×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Docu Features Shine at Helsinki’s Fourth Edition of Finnish Film Affair

HELSINKI, Finland– Elli Toivoniemi’s docu feature debut “Once I Was A Dragonfly” nabbed the inaugural Pitch Award at the fourth edition of the Finnish Film Affair, the two-day confab hosted alongside the Helsinki film festival.

“Dragonfly” (pictured above) follows the journey of Miikka Friman, a 24-year old amateur filmmaker whose fascination for butterflies shaped his life from the age of 6.

Toivoniemi, who is producing the pic via her Helsinki-based company Tuffi Films, previously directed the short film “Role” which played at Locarno in 2014 and produced the Oscar-nominated short “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything” in 2013.

The documentary won a 3000 Euros grant as part of the best pitch award whose jury comprised Fortissimo Films’ Berenice Fugard, TenOne Entertainment’s Robert Burke and LA-based critic Barbara Gasser.

“Elli has a rare talent for capturing stunning visuals and telling a complex story in a relatable way. She also understands how to create an invisible bond between the subject of her documentary and the audience,” stated the jury.

Hussain Currimbhoy and Jim Kolmar, programmers for Sundance and SXSW, respectively, argued the win for “Dragonfly” underscores the strength of Finnish documentaries. In fact, both programming execs said Finnish documentaries have the potential to travel more widely than features.

Kolmar cited “The Punk Syndrome” “Steam of Life,” “The Visit” and “Searching for Sugar Man” as recent exemple of critically-acclaimed documentaries from Finland or elsewhere in Scandinavia.

“Documentaries are particularly interesting because they often reveal subcultures and eccentricities which is what South by Southwest is all about,” said Kolmar. Speaking about Finnish docus in particular Kolmar argued that “many of them display a sensibility and a quirky sense of humor that translate better than in fiction films; and they also have and underlining warmth and the willingness to invest in characters.”

Although the projects pitched at the Finnish Film Affair are too early in the development stage to be considered for a selection at South by Southwest or Sundance, Kolmar and Currimbhoy agreed that being in Helsinki and listening to the pitches was useful.

“We can’t rely exclusively on submissions and being here, in the epicenter of the Finish Film industry, helps me pick up on trends, meet filmmakers, and get a broader perspective on the local movie landscape,” said Kolmar.

“Dragonfly” was one of the 19 works in progress pitched at the Finnish Film Affair. Other highlights included Katja Gauriloff’s “Baby Jane” from Oktober, Selma Vilhunen’s “Little Wing” from Making Movies, Aleksi Mäkelä’s “Love Records” from Fisher King and Juho Kuosmanen’s “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki” from Aamu Film Company.

“Jailhouse Socrates” by Pekka Lehto is another noteworthy docu project pitched at the confab, per Marja Pallasalo, head of short and documentary film promotion at the Finnish Film Foundation. Lehto is known for making provocative films and docs such as “Flame Top” and “Emergency Call- A Murder Mystery” that give an edgy insight on Finnish society. Produced by Zone2 Pictures, “Jailhouse Socrates” unveils Finland’s criminal underworld and the justice system’s rampant corruption.

The confab hosted a panel discussing ways to develop, cast, package and market Finnish-originated films in the States and get into festivals and theaters. The roundtable featured U.S. execs, notably Currimbhoy, Kolmar, Gudrun Giddings, whose credits include “Banshee Chapter,” Ryan Wickers, head of development of U.S. production at EuropaCorp, Peter Trinh, agent at ICM and Robert Burke,” managing director of TenOne Entertainment.

Johanna Karppinen, CEO of the Finnish Film & Audiovisual Export association, said local directors and producers are increasingly looking collaborate with North American partners in order to deliver movies with broader commercial potential and access bigger budgets, which in Finland are lower on average than in the rest of Scandinavia. The exec also argued the success of “Iron Sky” and “Big Game” have bolstered that trend.

“Finnish films are definitely on the international radar,” says Sara Norberg, the exec director of the Helsinki film fest, also known as Love & Anarchy festival. “There is a huge appetite in the local industry to take this to the next level and we are very happy to offer them the tools that can help them and their projects work internationally.”

The Finnish Film Affair presented nearly 60 Finnish films, either finished or in development, and attracted a record 300 participants, including 90 international industry players such as sales agents from Fortissimo Films, Picture Tree International and Memento Films.

More Film

  • Wings Over Everest

    Terence Chang's 'Wings Over Everest' Set to Swell China's Rescue Film Genre

    “Wings over Everest,” a new action adventure film from veteran producer Terence Chang and “Wolf Warrior 2” producer Lu Jianmin, is poised to join the burgeoning Chinese sub-genre of rescue movies.   The Chinese- and English-language film stars Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu (“Project Gutenberg”; “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”), Japanese actor Koji Yakusho (“Babel”; “Memoirs of a [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    China Film Marketing Firms Must Adapt To Internet Age, Says Huayi's Jerry Ye

    Huayi Brothers Pictures CEO and media group VP Jerry Ye made no mention Sunday of the abrupt cancellation of the premiere for his firm’s highly anticipated war epic “The Eight Hundred,” which was set to be the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival’s opening film the night before. Instead, he looked to the future at a panel [...]

  • The Meg

    Chinese Script Development Requires A Different Touch, Top Producers Say

    Leading film producers highlighted the challenges of developing good scripts in China and abroad at a panel during the Shanghai International Film Festival on Sunday. Wanda Media GM Jiang Wei (aka Wayne Jiang) recommended that producers remain aware of the real differences between the scriptwriting process for Chinese productions versus international and co-productions. The fundamental [...]

  • Lou Ye's "Spring Fever"

    Shanghai: Previously-Banned Producer Nai An Now Hails Chinese Film Funding

    At a panel on indie film production at the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival, Chinese and foreign producers discussed the shifting funding landscape for their projects over the years. Nai An, the longtime collaborator of controversial sixth generation Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye, kicked off the talk with a look back at her producing career, which has [...]

  • My Dear Friend

    Shanghai Film Review: 'My Dear Friend'

    Like a slow-acting hallucinogen, Chinese director Yang Pingdao’s audaciously strange and sorrowful feature debut works its magic so gradually that it’s with a slight surprise that halfway through you glance down and realize you’re high off the social-realist ground, suspended surreally in the air. At first a gritty tale of feckless men abandoning their families [...]

  • Agent M (Tessa Thompson) and Agent

    Box Office: 'Men in Black: International' Ranks No. 1 Overseas With $74 Million

    Sony’s “Men in Black: International” is making good on its title, leading overseas box office charts with $74 million from 56 foreign territories. Combined with its disappointing $28 million start in North America, the latest chapter in the sci-fi action series debuted with $102.2 million globally. “Men in Black: International” sees “Thor: Ragnarok” co-stars Tessa [...]

  • Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and Agent

    'Men in Black: International' Leads Box Office With Muted $28 Million

    Hollywood seems to be coming down with a contagious case of franchise fatigue this summer, as “Men in Black: International” and “Shaft” become the latest sequels largely dismissed by moviegoers in North America. Sony’s “Men in Black: International” led ticket sales at the box office this weekend with $28.5 million, but still fell short of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content