The Finnish Film Foundation grants production support to a variety of new projects
by Marta Bałaga
- War, a tango festival and love for the forest are among the topics tackled by the films that have been granted a total of €6.3 million in production aid
The Finnish Film Foundation gave out over €6.3 million in production support earlier in March. Among the nine selected features, Never Alone is bound to pique particular international interest. Described as a “long-time passion project” for director Klaus Härö, recently behind the English-language drama My Sailor, My Love [+see also:
film profile], it’s set during the war in 1942, when Finland was allied with Nazi Germany. The film, written by Härö and Jimmy Karlsson, and produced by Ilkka Matila for MRP Matila Röhr Productions, was granted €800,000.
Jenni Toivoniemi, who made her feature debut with the well-received Games People Play [+see also:
film profile], is behind another possible highlight, Butterfly (supported to the tune of €850,000). This modern comedy, set during a summer tango festival, will see a father and a daughter trying to reconnect. Miia Haavisto is producing for Tekele.
Other projects include Arto Halonen’s After Us, the Flood, produced by Art Films Production AFP (€745,000), as well as four features that received production support as part of the 50/50 scheme, intended for mainstream films with significant audience potential: Kolme valepukkia by Rike Jokela (Dionysos Films, €600,000), two titles from Yellow Film & TV, both awarded €600,000 – Reetta Aalto’s Hayflower, Quiltshoe and the Chicken and Mari Rantasila’s My Name Is Dingo – and, finally, The Grump’s Love Story. This continuation of the popular franchise, granted €500,000, will be produced by Jukka Helle, Markus Selin and Hanna Virolainen for Solar Films, with Mika Kaurismäki coming back to direct after 2022’s The Grump: In Search of an Escort [+see also:
interview: Mika Kaurismäki
The foundation also noticed two minority co-productions, starting with the chiller Cychosis, directed by Kari Vidø. After a near-death experience, Lulu ends up in hospital. She feels that someone, or something, is after her. As explained by the boy she meets, who can apparently see dead people, there is another girl following her around. Produced by Aleksi Hyvärinen for Finland’s Don Films, and Julie Rix Bomholt and Mia Elvstrøm Myrälf for SF Studios Production (Denmark), the film was awarded €165,000.
In Kevlar Soul by Maria Eriksson-Hecht (€150,000), two brothers are intertwined, “as if magnetically bound to one another”, until one of them falls in love. When Robin gets convicted for a felony, Alex blames himself for letting his first love distract him. But, ask the filmmakers, “Can you save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?” Misha Jaari, Mark Lwoff, Lizette Jonjic, Ronny Fritsche and Verona Meier are on production duties, with Finnish company Bufo and Zentropa Sweden attached.
With Teppo Airaksinen’s White Trash (€100,000) representing the shorts, on the documentary front, 13 titles were chosen. They include a new offering by Virpi Suutari, who will now focus on nature activists in a film bearing the working title The Sparrow. Described as a “morality play and a love story involving a younger generation whose main location and object of love is the Finnish forest”, it will see young protagonists coming face to face with the forestry industry. Granted €120,000, Suutari will be producing herself for Euphoria Film.
Panu Suuronen’s Regina (Aito Media, €110,000), Olavi Linna’s Pariah (Polygraf, €110,000), My Choice by Karoliina Gröndahl (Icebreaker Productions, €105,000) and Fat Dance by Kirsikka Saari (napafilms, €33,000) were also chosen. The Arctic Circle of Lust, directed by Markku Heikkinen (Zone2 Pictures, €120,000), will explore the “secret sexuality” of middle-aged men living in peripheral regions and the ensuing identity crises that occur when they are caught.
Carmen! by Pihla Viitala will follow a “fearless” Finnish Romany girl who is passionate about dancing (Gimmeyawallet Productions, €150,000), while Oskari Pastila’s Burn the Ginger (Emerald Gate Industries, €90,000) focuses on the rise and fall of an Australian immigrant in the “world’s happiest country”. “After becoming the golden boy of the academic, political and business elites sent to promote the Finland brand abroad, he is thrown away like a wet rag in times of adversity and gets to experience the much-praised safety networks of the mythical Nordic welfare state at first hand,” noted its makers.
Maija Hirvonen’s Törmäysteoria (Mouka Filmi, €110,000), Iiris Härmä’s Omid – Hope (Guerilla Films, €90,000) and Unelmaa kohti by Joonas Berghäll (Oktober, €100,000) round off the slate, with two minority co-productions also making the list: Holy Land by Göran Olsson (€40,000), produced by Tobias Jansson, Miia Haavisto and Marja Pihlaja for Story AB (Sweden) and Tekele, respectively, and The Andersson Brothers (€42,000).
The latter, produced by Annika Hellström, Erika Malmgren for Cinenic Film (Sweden) and Kaarle Aho for Making Movies, will introduce the world not only to famous filmmaker Roy Andersson, but also to his brothers. Directed by Andersson’s niece, Johanna Bernhardson, the film promises to be “intimate and humorous”, even though the siblings in question lost contact and rarely speak to one another. “Their relationship is tense, but Johanna is determined to unite them again before it is too late,” stated the team, adding that despite their differences, the brothers still have one thing in common – they all drink too much.
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