Pic is Wuolijoki's first since 'Christmas'
GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Guido Rud’s Buenos Aires-based FilmSharks Intl. has acquired worldwide rights outside Scandinavia to Finnish pic “Hella W.”Scandinavian distribution is handled by Sandrew Metronome Distribution. Helmed by Juha Wuolijoki, “Hella W.” reps the director’s followup to “Christmas Story,” a Finnish box office and sales phenom. Set between 1920 and 1954, “Hella W.” tells the true story of Hella Wuolijoki, a redoubtable woman entrepreneur, playwright and politician. It records her ostracism at the hands of Finland’s intelligentsia, which disliked the popularity and incendiary politics of her plays, many of which are now regarded as modern classics. Biopic’s central World War II passages turn, however, on Wuolijoki’s arraignment for treason by a Nazi-friendly Finnish government, after the playwright had used her communist connections to help dissuade the Soviet government from annexing Finland. Rud said at the Guadalajara festival that he will initiate at Cannes the sales campaign on “Hella W.,” which he picked up because of its name director and story. Plushly turned out, the period drama topped Finnish B.O. charts when it opened on Jan. 21, grossing Euros 650,000 ($914,875) to date. From an original screenplay by Outi Nyytaja, “Hella W.” is produced by Juha Wuolijoki’s Helsinki and New York-based label Snapper Films. The hyphenate created B.O. waves in 2007 with his family feature “Christmas Story,” the highest-grossing Finnish film of 2007, which sold to 120 countries. Wuolijoki directed an English-language dub featuring the voices of John Turturro and Noah Emmerich (“Fair Game”). “Guido Rud’s enthusiasm and energy , combined with an impressive track record, are unique in the business,” Wuolijoki said. Juha Wuolijoki is the son of Hella Wuolijoki’s great nephew. Rud has already seen success with Finnish films. Klaus Jaro’s “Letters to Father Jacob” has sold 20-plus territories to date. FilmSharks’ Guadalajara sales slate includes the Patagonik-produced “Igualita a mi,” in the fest’s Vox Populi Box Office sidebar, Spanish blockbuster “Torrente 4: Crisis Letal” (Lethal Crisis), which will have its international premiere at Buenos Aires’ Bafici fest, Miguel Angel Lamata’s healthily-selling “Tension sexual no resulta,” produced by Segura, and two pics from Barcelona’s Eddie Saeta: Agusti Vila’s “The Mosquito Net,” which topped Karlovy Vary, and Sergio Caballero’s “Finisterrae,” which won a Rotterdam Tiger.