Mika Ronkainen and Merja Aakko won the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for outstanding writing on a Nordic drama series on Wednesday evening for “All the Sins,” a crime thriller and broken family drama set in Finland’s singular Bible belt and sod by Sky Vision.
The six-part series marks the first venture into series drama creation by documentary director Ronkainen, whose 2003’s “Screaming Men” played Sundance, and 2009’s “Freetime Machos” the Tribeca Film Festival, and by Aako, a former journalist specialized in human interest stories and social issues.
“All the Sins” is lead produced for Finnish VOD service Elisa Viihde by Ilkka Matila at Finland’s MRP Matila Rohr Productions.
The series begins with detective Lauri Räiha (Johannes Holopainen, “Unknown Soldier”) being dispatched to investigate the murders of two men, both pillars of the ultra-conservative Laestadian religious community, in Varjakka, a small northern Finnish town where he grew up. He is accompanied by a senior officer, Sanna Tervo (Maria Sid, “Donna Paukku” ).
Another murder occurs. It is the attention paid to character, however, and how criminal investigation interweaves with three characters’ confrontation of severe past suffering from gender violence or homophobia, which marks out the series.
Most viewers would expect snowy wastes from “All the Sins’” Northern Finland. Instead, in its local town of Varjakka, they get lush green fields, church spires dominating hamlets: rather like a real mid-west America, a land of profound religious belief.
Both Ronkainen and Aakko are from the region, the series once more confirming the industry mantra that writers should write about what they know.
“In the end, we decided to give the award to the show that in our opinion took the most risks in storytelling and originality in character development. The winning series showed us a community under pressure and found new ways to deconstruct and play with the crime genre,” the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize jury said in a press statement.
This year’s jury was comprised of Sweden’s Christina Jeurling Birro, a journalist and producer of podcast “Pop Culture Confidential”; Finland’s Laura Birn, Finland, an actress in “The Innocents” and “Purge”; American Justin Judd, a content consultant at Hulu; and Alexander Karim, the Swedish actor known for his performance’s in Viaplay’s “The Lawyer” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
“The Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize is an amazing award that goes not only to the creators Merja Aakko and Mika Ronkainen and our team at Matila Röhr Productions but to all Finnish producers of TV drama. We’ve often felt like the step-children in the big family of Nordic TV drama. “Now we’re 100% part of the family. It proves that our industry has matured,” said Matila.
She added: ˝We’re thankful to our financiers who supported us, including the Finnish Film Foundation, Elisa Viihde and Business Finland, representing the Finnish tax rebates. They have allowed us to raise the quality of our shows and enabled us to compete on an international level.”
Laura Kuulasmaa, Elisa Viihde content acquisition and commissioning of series and movies, said that “All the Sins” will be released in April. “Finnish series often have a hard time penetrating neighboring markets, so it’s very special to win the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize,” she added.
“The jury had a difficult time deciding between six very different shows that all showed creative ambition and a desire to move Nordic drama forward,” the jury said.
Underscoring this, two other shows whose writers were up for the NF&TV Prize – “Kieler Street” and “The New Nurses” – have been selected for Market Screenings at Berlin’s Drama Series Days the week after next.