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The Finnish Film Affair announces its award winners


- Katja Gauriloff’s Je'vida, Helena Stefáns Magneudóttir’s Natatorium and Mohamed El Aboudi’s doc The Last Chapter have been crowned as the victors at Finland’s biggest industry event

The Finnish Film Affair announces its award winners
Je'vida by Katja Gauriloff

The industry sidebar of the Helsinki Film Festival – Love & Anarchy, the Finnish Film Affair, came to an end on Friday with close to 500 guests having attended, a record-breaking number for the on-site edition. Impressively, the attendees hailed from 22 different countries and three continents. “Compared to our last non-hybrid edition in 2019, we’ve had a 25% increase in attendance. It really shows the strength and appeal of both the local industry and our event,” stated Maria Pirkkalainen, head of the Finnish Film Affair and Nordic Flair.

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Je’vida, directed by Katja Gauriloff (Baby Jane [+see also:
film review
film profile
) and produced by Joonas Berghäll and Anna Nuru, of Oktober, received the Best Fiction Project Award. “It is a story that needs to be told, with real potential to become relatable globally. The presentation and cinematography felt personal, beautiful and visually striking,” underlined jurors Jason Gutierrez, programmer at the Tribeca Film Festival; Eleonora Pesci, acquisitions executive at Curzon; and Claire Willats, director of Film Netflix Nordics. Currently in post-production, the dramatic historical feature weaves through three different places in time as Skolt Sámi Iida recounts her story of memory, survival and personal growth.

The Best Nordic Project Award went to Iceland’s Natatorium, directed by Helena Stefáns Magneudóttir and produced by Sunna Guðnadóttir, of Bjartsýn Films; Julia Elomäki, of Tekele Productions; and Heather Millard, of Silfurskjár. Currently in production, the film is a dramatic thriller that explores the dark underlying secrets of a family’s matriarch that erupt in a tragedy nobody could have foreseen. The jury noted: “This is an intriguing project that we’d love to follow and explore more. Despite having just started filming, the movie already feels like it has a distinctive, atmospheric voice and a style that grabbed our attention.”

Finally, the Finnish Film Affair’s Best Documentary Project Award went to The Last Chapter, directed by Mohamed El Aboudi (School of Hope [+see also:
film review
film profile
) and produced by Kirsi Mattila for Icebreaker Productions. The documentary follows three immigrants in Finland – Paul (87), Justin (68) and Sisto (69) – who face the question of where and how they want to spend the last chapters of their lives. The jury, which consisted of Pierre-Alexis Chevit, head of Cannes Docs at the Marché du Film – Cannes Film Festival; Poppy McAlister, sales manager at TVF International; and Shane Smith, artistic director at Hot Docs, mentioned: “The project tackles complex and universal questions that will become more and more relevant, and haven’t been touched on before. The jury felt the creative intention of the director very strongly and believes this award can help the project realise its potential.”

Sponsored by the Finnish Film Foundation, Konstsamfundet and AVEK, respectively, each award is worth €3,000, which will go towards the project’s international marketing (Best Fiction and Nordic) or the making of an international trailer for it (Best Documentary).

Here is the list of award winners at the 11th Finnish Film Affair:

Best Fiction Project Award
Je'vida - Katja Gauriloff (Finland)
Producers: Joonas Berghäll, Anna Nuru (Oktober)

Best Nordic Project Award
Natatorium - Helena Stefáns Magneudóttir (Iceland)
Producers: Sunna Guðnadóttir (Bjartsýn Films), Julia Elomäki (Tekele Productions), Heather Millard (Silfurskjár)

Best Documentary Project Award
The Last Chapter - Mohamed El Aboudi (Finland)
Producer: Kirsi Mattila (Icebreaker Productions)

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