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“The reputation of films for young audiences is changing”

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Akseli Tuomivaara • Director

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- Finnish director Akseli Tuomivaara talked to us about his new project, Tagli and Telle, the winner of the Eurimages Co-production Development Award at the recent Cinekid

Akseli Tuomivaara • Director

Two young siblings open a detective agency: this is the starting point for Tagli and Telle, the Finnish film project directed by Akseli Tuomivaara and produced by Bufo Film which won the Eurimages Co-production Development Award at the recent Cinekid for Professionals, held in Amsterdam in October (read the news). With his live-action film, adapted from a series of books written by Paula Noronen, Tuomivaara will seek to grab the attention of young audiences, a point of view, and also a market, that is becoming more and more important for the film world. He answered our questions about what his sophomore feature will be like.

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Cineuropa: After your first feature, Korso, what made you want to direct Tagli and Telle, a film for kids?
Akseli Tuomivaara: I made my first feature with the production company Bufo and wanted to continue working with them. After directing a realistic coming-of-age film, I wanted to next make something completely different. I feel drawn to many different genres and also want to challenge myself as a filmmaker. What I really love about this project is that it’s a full-blown adventure film for the entire family.

Why have you chosen this story?
The emotional core of the story is crystal clear. Tagli and Telle is a story about two siblings who need to learn to get along and respect each other. The characters are very relatable. On top of that, there is a detective story and a big mystery is involved. There is a lot happening on the surface and also inside the characters' heads. In that sense, it reminds me a bit of films by Pixar, which I’m a big fan of.

How are you conceiving this film? Are you working closely with writer Paula Noronen throughout the process?
Paula Noronen is not only the screenwriter, but also the creator of the series of books Tagli and Telle. Paula seems to lack any jealousy over her work, so the writing process with her has been super-nice and smooth. From the get-go, Paula understood the differences between mediums (book vs film) and insisted that we shouldn’t get stuck with the original material. So we basically took the characters and the overall storyline, and started brainstorming from there. Along the way, we’ve had a lot of help from a bunch of writers and dramaturges, including Mieke De Jong from Cinekid. Currently, we are polishing the script; the latest version is number ten. For a while, I’ve felt there are no missing pieces in the story; it’s all there in the script.

Films for young audiences are usually overlooked by film professionals, but in the end, they prove to be the best money-spinners when they arrive in theatres. Are markets like Cinekid more necessary than we think?
I believe the reputation of films for young audiences is changing. At least in Finland, it seems like suddenly everybody wants to make them. For sure, it has a lot to do with some of the recent box-office successes. With the competition, I believe the quality of the films will also rise - to be honest, it hasn’t always been very high. Markets like Cinekid are absolutely necessary. Pitching your idea alongside similar projects is always helpful, and to get feedback from the people who know this specific market is invaluable.

After your participation in Cinekid, you received the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award. How do you think this will improve your plans?
Taking part in Cinekid has already been a tremendous help for us. And winning the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award turned out to be vital. We are aiming to shoot in summer 2018, and we really need to make Tagli and Telle a co-production. This award helps us convince financiers at home and abroad.

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