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Authentic stories about real people at the Finnish Film Affair


- The Finnish industry event was the perfect place to find appealing projects and make new connections

Authentic stories about real people at the Finnish Film Affair
l-r: Hugo Barbio (Legendmain), Sara Norberg (executive director, Helsinki International Film Festival) and Jana Wolff (Pluto Film) (© Birgit Heidsiek)

As a showcase for Finnish films, the fourth Finnish Film Affair attracted more than 90 international industry representatives such as distributors, world sales agents, TV buyers and festival programmers from Europe and the US. At this three-day event (22-24 September), Finnish writers, directors and producers pitched about 30 works in progress and in development. Among them were Kaarle Aho and Kai Nordberg, the producers of the Finnish Oscar contender The Fencer [+see also:
interview: Ivo Felt
film profile
 by Klaus Härö. With their production outfit Making Movies, they are currently working on the drama Little Wing [+see also:
film profile
by Selma Vilhunen.

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Meanwhile, award-winning short-filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen has started to lens his first feature film, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Juho Kuosmanen
film profile
. Shot on 16mm black-and-white film, the drama is based on the true story of a promising Finnish boxer who fought for the world featherweight title in the 1960s.

For the first time at the Finnish Film Affair, the Best Pitch Award, worth €3,000, was given out. The prize, which is sponsored by the Finnish Film Foundation, went to the documentary Once I Was a Dragonfly by Elli Toivoniemi, who had previously received an Academy Awards nomination for her short Do I Have To Take Care of Everything?

Further projects at the Finnish Film Affair included the biographical story Star Boys by Visa Koiso-Kanttila, which tells of what happens when the sexual revolution arrives in a conservative and religious small town in Northern Finland, as well as the dark comedy-drama Laugh or Die by Heikki Kujanpään, which is based on a true story during the Finnish Civil War. “The pitched projects got some very positive feedback. Various producers have already received offers for their projects,” reported Sara Norberg, executive director of the Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy. “The Finnish Film Affair has reached a very good size, enabling Finnish industry representatives to easily meet new business partners.”

Among the international guests in Helsinki were several world sales agents. “The quality of the work and the mix of stories are really impressive,” stated Berenice Fugard, senior vice-president at Fortissimo Films. For Jana Wolff, who is in charge of acquisitions and sales at the new German world sales agent Pluto Film, the Finnish Film Affair is the perfect place to build up a close relationship with up-and-coming directors and producers. “We are looking for small arthouse films that are special and pure. In Scandinavia, we can find many authentic stories about real people.” 

But distributors that are seeking finished films can also find what they are looking for at the festival. “We started our distribution company Legendmain in 2013,” reported Portuguese arthouse distributor Hugo Barbio. “Among the 30 films we have been releasing are two Finnish ones. One of our first movies was Heart of a Lion [+see also:
festival scope
film profile
by Dome Karukoski, which opened the Helsinki International Film Festival in 2013.”

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