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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Finland

There are no Bad Apples among the productions supported by the Finnish Film Foundation

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- The foundation has granted €5.6 million worth of production support to 22 projects, including a documentary that will finally explain why Finns don’t show emotion

There are no Bad Apples among the productions supported by the Finnish Film Foundation
Joy Eternal, a Divine Consultants Story by Juha Fiilin, which has received €120,000 in support (© Fiilin Good Films)

Proving once again that what the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, the Finnish Film Foundation – which has just received €5 million for production support from the Ministry of Education and Culture due to COVID-19 (see the news) – has redistributed €5.6 million among 22 new productions, consisting of ten feature-length fiction films, six documentaries, four series (including two animations) and, finally, two short films: Pete Riski’s Ero and For Relaxin’ Times by Aleksi Delikouras.

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Among the fiction features, It’s Alive Films scored a double win with Teemu Nikki’s A Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic (awarded €100,000) and the children’s film Snot and Splash (€850,000), while Making Movies, run by Kaarle Aho and Kai Nordberg, got €300,000 for Tonislav Hristov’s The Good Driver, which will see him come back to the same small town he previously showed in his EFA-nominated documentary The Good Postman [+see also:
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. The company is also behind Klaus Härö’s much-anticipated English-language debut, My Sailor, My Love (€690,000), and Saara Cantell’s Siblings (€550,000).

One of the five minority co-productions in the mix, A Girl’s Room by Aino Suni (co-produced by Made), received €300,000, while Mer Film’s Let the River Flow, written and directed by Ole Giæver and with Helsinki-based Bufo on its side, was given €150,000. Finally, Franky Five Star, to be helmed by Birgit Möller and overseen in Finland by Aamu Film Company’s Jussi Rantamäki, was given €135,000, with Rantamäki also behind The Woodcutter’s Story by Mikko Myllylahti (€705,000), best known as the screenwriter of the 2016 revelation The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki [+see also:
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interview: Juho Kuosmanen
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. Finally, Light Light Light by Inari Niemi (produced by Lucy Loves Drama) rounds off the slate with €640,000.

The new documentaries start – rather ironically, given the title – with Epilog: Jörn Donners’ Last Interview, celebrating the filmmaker who passed away in January. It is being directed by John Webster, and produced by Misha Jaari, Mark Lwoff and Ari Tolppanen, of Bufo (€100,000), which is also behind The Pure Ones (€140,000), directed by Otso Tiainen. In the World of Colour and Shape – Maija Isola, about a textile designer responsible for the most beloved Marimekko patterns, directed by Leena Kilpeläinen and produced by Greenlit Productions, got €120,000, and two minority co-productions, Final Cut For Real’s A House Made of Splinters by Simon Lereng Wilmont (co-produced by Finland’s Donkey Hotel) and Ragnhild Ekner’s Ultras (Story, Wacky Tie Films), were given €32,000 and €30,000, respectively.

Karaoke Nation by Einari Paakkanen, produced by napafilms and boasting a logline to remember (“Finns don’t show emotions – they sing karaoke”), walked away with €150,000. “I got the idea in an actual karaoke bar and called my producer the same evening. The research has been easy and fun, since I love to sing karaoke myself,” the director admitted to Cineuropa. “What got me interested was noticing what happens when shy Finns pick up the mic – they come alive and pour their souls out in front of strangers. I wanted to find out what makes them sing.” This was also done via a Facebook campaign that asked karaoke lovers to share their stories. “For many, it’s a passion beyond words, but also an outlet to process life’s challenges: loneliness, illness and loss. That’s what makes Finnish karaoke so special, or maybe it’s because everybody gets applauded, no matter how they sing. For me, it’s a celebration of the fact that none of us is perfect.”

The Finnish Film Foundation also noticed new series, starting with Bad Apples, co-directed by Marja Pyykkö and Pamela Tola, and produced by Fire Monkey Productions (€100,000), as well as The Lake, co-directed by Miia Tervo and Markus Lehmusruusu, and produced by Yellow Film & TV (€70,000). On the animation front, The Unstoppable Yellow Yeti (€160,000), directed by Joonas Utti and produced by Gigglebug Entertainment, was recognised. But Joy Eternal, a Divine Consultants Story, produced and directed by Juha Fiilin (of Fiilin Good Films) and supported with a sum of €120,000, is bound to take things a bit darker with its story of Joy, who “takes on an idealistic struggle against a heartless, murdering mega-corporation, which in response murders Joy and her parents. Whoops!”

“It’s not a kids’ show, but we don’t want to make it super dark. It has diverse characters of all possible races, reflecting our multicultural world, female and male, as well as non-binary. We try to balance action, comedy, social satire and things that we really want to say about the world,” shared Juha Fiilin over the phone. Or indeed the otherworld, as Joy discovers a corrupt afterlife that has nothing to do with traditional religious ideas. “There is a company that runs the soul business, and Joy’s mission is to stop the exploitation of souls and the environment. But the main theme is about how difficult it is to trust in lasting love.”

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