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FUNDING Finland

The Finnish Film Foundation makes sure different stories are told

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- The organisation has given over €4.36 million to 21 new projects, ten of which are being helmed by female directors

The Finnish Film Foundation makes sure different stories are told
A promo image for Birds of a Feather by Hanna Bergholm

The Finnish Film Foundation has kick-started 2019 by supporting 21 new projects, giving over €4.36 million to 11 fiction features, six feature-length documentaries, two short documentaries, one short animation and one animated series. Three of them are international minority co-productions, including 0-2 by Margus Paju, produced by Nafta Films, Taska Film and Solar Films, as well as the documentaries Libres! This Train I Ride by Arno Bitschy, produced by Les Films du Balibari with napafilms, and The Other Side of the River, directed by Antonia Kilian, who will also produce alongside Doppelplusultra Film und TV Produktion, Zavod Stefanova Stala and Greenlit Productions. Ten of the chosen projects will be helmed by female directors.

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Maria Sid will helm the eighth entry in the phenomenally popular Ricky the Rapper [+see also:
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series, produced by Rimbo Salomaa, Jukka Helle and Markus Selin, of Solar Films (€690,000), while Ulla Heikkilä will direct Confirmation (€730,000) with the help of producer Miia Haavisto, of Tekele Productions. Hanna Bergholm’s horror Birds of a Feather (€675,000), produced by Mika Ritalahti, of Silva Mysterium, promises to continue the successful “Weird Wave” of Finnish genre cinema with a story about a girl who hatches an evil twin out of a bird’s egg. “Well, an evil twin who goes and carries out her worst, most deeply buried impulses. And she feeds it by vomiting into its mouth,” clarified screenwriter Ilja Rautsi, helpfully. “It’s about a girl who has to be perfect to be loved; the monster that she hatches comes from that feeling. And it’s about facing the weakest, ugliest part of yourself, which can destroy everyone around you. If you try to hide how you really feel, eventually it will come out and bite your head off.”

Rounding off the four debuts is Khadar Ahmed’s much-anticipated The Gravedigger (€400,000), produced by Mark Lwoff and Misha Jaari, of Bufo. “This project has been in the making for a long time, so I’m extremely excited that it’s finally going into production,” the director told Cineuropa. “The story is very personal to me, as it’s inspired by true events that took place in my family some years ago. The film follows the lives of a certain group of underprivileged Djiboutians who are working very hard to make ends meet. As a kid who spent his teenage life under those circumstances, I was able to draw on many personal experiences,” he added. “As a filmmaker, my aim is to help those people to get their stories told, have their voices heard or, at least, have their existence acknowledged. And to help them be appreciated for their contribution to society.”

To lighten things up somewhat, a number of comedies were also selected, starting with Potato, produced by Olli Haikka and Marko Talli, of Yellow Film & TV, about a man trying to introduce the titular delicacy to 17th-century Finland (€750,000), to be directed by Joona Tena and written by Pekko Pesonen, of Lapland Odyssey [+see also:
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fame. Taneli Mustonen, the man behind the Finnish remakes of The Reunion [+see also:
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, will take on a Norwegian hit, Norske byggeklosser [+see also:
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(€720,000), backed by Solar Films, while Teemu Nikki, known for Finland’s Oscar candidate Euthanizer [+see also:
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, will direct Nimby (€565,000). Produced by Nikki and Jani Pösö’s company, It’s Alive Films, the title stands for “not in my backyard”. “It is a comedy about intolerance among tolerant people – we could call it 'hipster intolerance',” explained Pösö. “The core idea is that it’s really easy to be tolerant if something is far away, but when it comes close to you, it’s much harder. Teemu Nikki will be directing scenes with eight actors, who are stuck in one room and speaking three different languages. I will be looking forward to watching that on the monitor,” he added jocularly.

Other selected projects include Hayflower, Quiltshoe and the Feisty First-grader (€640,000), directed by Lenka Hellstedt and produced by Jarkko Hentula and Anni Pänkäälä, of Yellow Film & TV; Antti J Jokinen’s new film, Helene (€800,000), to be produced by Mikko Tenhunen, of Finland Cinematic; and the final instalment in the trilogy that includes Tale of a Forest and Tale of a Lake [+see also:
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, Tale of a Sleeping Giant (€450,000) by Marko Röhr, who will also produce the film alongside Hanna Kauppi. Among the documentaries, heads were turned by the shorts Dance of Elderly by Markku Heikkinen and Sakari Suuronen’s Viileä voima, as well as the features Island of Souls (€80,000), directed by Lotta Petronella and produced by Ilona Tolmunen, of Made; A Moroccan (€110,000), directed by Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen and Khalid Laboudi, produced by Vitikainen’s Zone2 Pictures; The Red Ring (€184,000), produced by Satu Majava and Joonas Berghäll, of Oktober, who will also direct; and Silicon Valley, Baby (€80,000) by Erika Haavisto, produced by Wille Lehtovaara and Heli Sirviö, of Taavi Vartia Film & TV. Support of €20,000 was also received by several animations, such as the short film The Last Matador by Katariina Lillqvist and the animated series Archipellina and the Black Box, directed by Antonia Ringbom and produced by Mats Långbacka, of Långfilm Productions Finland.

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