Forest Giant stomps into existence with Solar Films
by Marta Bałaga
- Cineuropa visited the set of the upcoming Finnish drama being directed by Ville Jankeri, adapted from Miika Nousiainen’s third novel
Directed by Ville Jankeri and produced by Rimbo Salomaa, of Solar Films, who are reuniting after the 2011 slacker comedy Six-Pack Movie [+see also:
film profile], a more sombre proposition, Forest Giant, promises to go full Local Hero with the story of Pasi, forced to go back to his hometown to make its plywood factory more efficient. This usually translates to firing a whole bunch of people, only this time, he has known them his entire life – including his best friend since childhood, Janne. The movie is an adaptation of Miika Nousiainen’s third novel. “I love Nousianen’s novels, especially this one,” Salomaa tells Cineuropa. “When I read it, I found it very cinematic. Our story is universal, about what really happens to small towns when their factories are closing. It’s happening everywhere – not just in Finland.”
Still, the setting alone makes it an unarguably Finnish story. “We are a country full of forests and lakes, and Finland has lived with, and survived thanks to, wood factories. In every family, you will find someone with a connection to this industry,” adds Salomaa, with his director, who has co-written the script with Timo Turunen, echoing this: “The wood industry is how Finland was built. We have been told that this is the most precious thing we’ve got. But in this story, it could have been anything else, really,” says Jankeri. “In the last 20 years, there have been a lot of foreclosures, so people know how it feels. You could say that we start from the forest and then get to the characters.”
With a cast boasting the participation of Jussi Vatanen, of Lapland Odyssey [+see also:
film profile] fame, Jussi winner Tommi Korpela, Sara Soulié and Hannes Suominen, who is rejoining Vatanen after Aku Louhimies’ behemoth of a movie The Unknown Soldier [+see also:
film profile], expectations are understandably high. “I just relate to it very much,” explains Vatanen after finishing his scene and celebrating another 100th take with the crew and a shot of local brandy called Jaloviina – as tradition requires, Cineuropa learns. “I grew up on a farm, and a lot of my childhood friends are now doing completely different things in life than I am. It’s a rich situation for any actor, having these two people who come from two opposite sides, but still knowing each other somehow.”
“I wasn’t born in a village, but I moved to Lapland when I was young,” adds Jankeri. “That’s when you experience new things, and this makes these friendships last. I moved away, and we barely speak any more, but I still consider these guys my best friends.”
Although the subject matter seems to be rather glum, there is some humour to be found in the story, just like in Nousiainen’s bittersweet novel. “I mean, it’s about downsizing a factory, and obviously it’s a hilarious topic. But we try to keep it light,” jokes Jankeri on set. “In Miika’s books, there is always tragedy lurking behind all of the jokes,” explains Salomaa. “And he writes so well that you think it’s a comedy, even though the whole thing is ultimately very dark. It’s hard to adapt his books, but I hope we are making a drama with some comedy in it.”
Produced by Solar Films, financed by the Finnish Film Foundation and broadcasting company MTV3, and still awaiting a further winter shoot in January, Forest Giant is scheduled to premiere next year. The distribution will be handled by Nordisk Film.
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