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LevelK Believes in ‘Maria’s Paradise’ (EXCLUSIVE)

‘Maria’s Paradise’ Included in Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema

LevelK has picked up Zaida Bergroth’s “Maria’s Paradise,” ahead of its screening at Haugesund’s New Nordic Films and at Toronto’s World Contemporary Cinema section.

Bergroth is an habitué of the Toronto International Film Festival and a favored Finnish director for programmer Steve Gravestock who has praised in the past her “sensitivity and intelligence,” displayed in her previous films “Last Cowboy Standing” and Toronto picks “The Good Son” and “Miami.”

Her latest feature “Maria’s Paradise” is set in the 1920s in Finland and is based on a true story. We follow charismatic cult leader Maria Åkerblom as she leads her group of devout followers to a remote house in Helsinki.

Among them is the adoring teenager and orphan Salome. Maria is sentenced to prison, accused of violent crimes, but manages to escape and re-joins her devotees. Meanwhile, Salome has befriended a street girl, Malin, and is torn between her newfound freedom and Maria’s dangerous all-consuming love.
Toplining Pihla Viitala (“Deadwind”), Satu-Tuuli Karhu (“Happier Times, Grump”), Saga Sarkola (“Thicker than Water”) and Tommi Korpela (“Rare Export-A Christmas Tale”), the Finnish drama is produced by Koometa Film, in co-production with Kaiho Republic and Estonia’s Stellar Film. It received backing from the Finnish Film Foundation, Yle, the Finnish Church Media Fund, the Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture, the Estonian Film Institute, the Estonian Cultural Endowment, and Film Estonia. Nordisk Film will release it domestically on Oct. 4.

Bergroth’s fourth film is also her second collaboration with LevelK after “Miami.”

“Zaida is extremely strong at portraying female relationships, which she once again proves in a diverse story, unlike anything she has done before,” said LevelK CEO Tine Klint. “We have been working with Zaida for almost 10 years and, to me, this is her best film-both an impressively well-crafted period piece and a riveting character drama.”

Copenhagen-based sales and distribution company LevelK is also repping at Haugesund’s Nordic market the Danish thriller “The Exception,” with the all-star female cast: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Danica Ćurčić, Amanda Collin and Lene Maria Christensen. Pic opens in Denmark on April 30, 2020.

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