Love & Anarchy embraces biz

Helsinki fest sharpens focus on Finnish films

HELSINKI — Finland’s leading movie showcase, the Helsinki-set film festival known as Love & Anarchy, is to add a new industry focus after successfully piloting a Finnish film focus at its 24th edition, which wrapped Sunday.

Love & Anarchy — an annual non-competitive festival that brings an eclectic mix of international arthouse fare to audiences that this year hit a record 54,000 — hopes to attract more film industry professionals as Finnish productions come under growing focus.

There has been critical acclaim in the past year for films including “Lapland Odyssey” and “Rare Exports,” and the success of other Scandinavian movies — such as the “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” trilogy — is sparking Hollywood interest in the northern European region.

Blind Spot Pictures’ spoof Nazis-on-the-moon “Iron Sky” — a $10 million part crowd-financed sci-fi fantasy — is due to release in around 26 territories worldwide April, and a slew of other movies, ranging from romantic comedies to dark criminal dramas, such as Matila Rohr Productions’ “Priest of Evil” are also due to hit screens next year.

It all adds up to a window of opportunity for Finnish producers and directors to use the festival as a networking opportunity with international industry figures, said Sara Norberg, the fest’s new producer.

“The idea is to screen all the releases from the past year and make that an industry focus,” Norberg told Variety.

Films that have not yet got distribution deals, although not part of the event, will also be screened during the festival, she added.

The one week Finnish Film Event will be held within the 11 days of a festival that has become a popular annual autumn event, drawing audiences from Helsinki and beyond, with attendances averaging 50,000 — a respectable figure for a nation of just 5.5 million people.

Movies that screened this year included Elias Koskimies’ controversial new social and political satire, “Dirty Bomb,” and crime thriller “Body of Water.”

Norberg is an industry pro, and intends to up the biz side of the event. For 10 years she worked as a line producer, production manager and assistant director, before joining the festival, which is headed up by Pekka Lanerva, one of the founders in 1988 of the festival.

Norberg plans to involve local audiovisual industry body, FAVEX, and the Finnish Film Foundation in the event.

Mika Siltala, a co-founder of Love & Anarchy and founder of arthouse distributor Cinema Mondo, said the festival had played a key role in creating an audience for edgy international fare such as Japanese anime animation in Finland.

The festival’s program this year showcased 145 features and 67 shorts with 400 screenings — 113 of which were sold out.

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