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Teemu Nikki • Director

“There will probably always be a B-movie vibe in my films”


- TORONTO 2017: Cineuropa chatted to Finnish filmmaker Teemu Nikki, who is presenting his third feature, Euthanizer, in the Contemporary World Cinema section

Teemu Nikki  • Director
(© WIDE)

With numerous shorts, commercials, music videos and TV series under his belt, Finnish filmmaker Teemu Nikki has quite an impressive CV. Having always had a soft spot for genre films, he proves his admiration beyond all doubt with his third feature, Euthanizer [+see also:
film review
interview: Teemu Nikki
film profile
, which is taking part in the Contemporary World Cinema section of the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival. Cineuropa had a chat with the director on the topic of revenge, that special B-movie feel and his experience creating an almost handcrafted movie.

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Cineuropa: Why did you decide to deal with such an edgy character, a euthaniser? What is the main idea behind your story?
Teemu Nikki:
 The main idea was to create a new version of a character that I have seen millions of times before. He’s a bad good guy, who lives by his own rules and tells everybody his “truth”. Then I had the idea of a euthaniser for suffering animals – so a “Dirty Harry” with animals was born.

Despite its “revenge film” premise, Euthanizer has a softer and more emotional core. How did this work for you and your script?
I’m not a big fan of simple revenge stories; there has to be more than just the payback. I think that the softer core comes from me, as I also have a softer, more emotional side. I wanted to give it a touch of hope.

There is a clear B-movie vibe to your movie, almost an homage, and you have forged an extensive career in genre cinema. What were the influences for this particular film?
Many inspiring B-movies are “A-movies” for me. There will probably always be a B-movie vibe in my films. In the beginning, I had the idea of making a hard-boiled 1970s genre film, like Dirty Harry or Death Wish. In the process, I was also thinking of films like Taxi Driver and other violent movies with a strong vigilante as a protagonist.

What was your experience of offering legendary character actor Matti Onnismaa his first lead role?
For many years, I had been waiting for the right kind of lead role for Matti. In real life, he is a very kind and peace-loving person, and I was a bit worried that he wouldn’t like the role because of the violence that was associated with the film. Before I started working on the character, I asked Matti if he would take a Charles Bronson type of a role. He said yes, so I started to write it.

You were the director, scriptwriter, editor and producer of the film. Did you enjoy carrying out all of these professions, and how hard was it to balance everything?
Euthanizer is a very personal film, and I loved pulling all the strings. It wasn’t easy all the time, but I certainly enjoyed the ride.

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