Mäkelä's skyjacker takes Finnish fast lane for public funding
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
While Finnish director Aleksi Mäkelä's dramatic thriller Life for Sale, spends a fourth week in the local charts, the Finnish Film Foundation has chipped in €550,000 for his next project, The Hijack That Went South, which will be produced by Solar Films' Jukka Helle and Markus Selin.
Awarded the State Prize of Cinema, Mäkelä (pictured), whose features have exceeded 2.5 million admissions domestically, and collected 11 Jussis - the Finnish national film prize - will this time realise a script by Mika Karttunen about an unusual Finnish hijacking in 1978.
On the flight back from Oulu to Helsinki, after a drunken night, an ordinary businessman - down-on-his-luck, but always with good intentions, and with a handgun in his briefcase - suddenly decides to take command. Nordisk Film Production AB will release the film in December 2012.
The Hijack That Went South is the first of four films supported on a new 50/50 scheme, introduced by the foundation to speed up the decision-making process for projects that have half their budgets in place and to encourage producers outside the film industry.
In the first round, €2.3 million state funding has boosted a total production cost of €4.9 million, also including Taneli Mustonen's Ella and Her Friends, Timo Koivusalo's The Year of '85 - Rock Your Memories and Lauri Maijala's Diary of a Drunk.
Scripted by Aleksi Hyvärrinen, Ella and Her Friends follows a group of pupils who team up with their teacher to save the school, which is about to move to the city centre as a Centralised Learning and Schooling Facility. Juha Wuolijoki will produce for Snapper Films OY.
Koivusalo will also produce The Year of '85 for Artista Filmi Oy, the story by Riku Suokas, Heikki Syrjä and Heikki Vihinen about young machine factory workers "who lost their youth but did not find their adulthood". Local distribution will be by Buena Vista International Finland.
Based on Juha Vuorinen's novels about Juha Berg and his misfortune with women, sex, work, and drinking, Diary of a Drunk will star Finnish actors Joonas Saartamo and Krista Kosonen. The Aleksi Bardy-Dictator Films production will be domestically released by Scanbox.
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