Halonen's doped skiers receive Eurimages support
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Finnish director Arto Halonen's A Patriotic Man - the story that he could not tell in his documentary, When Heroes Lie - will shoot from next month in Finland, Croatia and Slovenia
When Finnish director Arto Halonen (photo) was preparing When Heroes Lie - his documentary, which was domestically launched last year (October 5) and later selected for the IDFA-International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam - he was "very meticulous in his research. So if anyone will sue us, we can prove every detail of the rotten, doping-ridden history of skiing we disclose".
But he also came upon "some second-hand reports, which were simply incredible, and unusable in a documentary on a sensitive subject." They have fed his new feature, A Patriotic Man, which goes into production next month (February) in Finland, Croatia and Slovenia, with €200,000 Eurimages funding.
Scripted by Halonen and Jouni Kemppainen, who also co-wrote When Heroes Lie, the €1.7 million feature is staged by Halonen for his own Art Films Production AFP, in collaboration with Croation producer Igor A. Nola, of MP Film Production. Future Film Distribution has scheduled the local release for next Christmas.
The Finnish director, whose feature Princess (2010) sold more than 300,000 tickets in Finland, spent three years researching the background for the scandal at the 2001 Lahti Skiing World Championships in Finland, where an entire group of local skiers tested positive for doping, and the chief coach was banned from the sport for life.
He had always been fascinated by "the systematic use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in sport, but also the hypocrisy of a community that demands heroes at any cost." A Patriotic Man focuses on two members of the national ski team, Toivo, whose blood has an exceptionally high haemoglobin level, and Aino, who is regularly fuelled with it.
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