With “Aurora,” a female-centric romantic comedy with social undertones, Miia Tervo has emerged as one of Finland’s most promising and daring young directors.
While attending the Goteborg Film Festival, where “Aurora” is nominated for three awards, Tervo spoke to Variety about being one of Finland’s very few women directors and her desire to address young women’s substance abuse, a topic which has never been addressed in Finland.
Set in the snowy Finnish region of Lapland, “Aurora” tells the story of a commitment-phobic, heavy-drinking party girl who meets Darian, an Iranian refugee seeking asylum for him and his daughter. The two of them agree to help each other in unconventional but vital ways that will shape their respective futures.
Tervo said the idea for “Aurora” came up whhile she was at university and made a documentary on young women’s substance abuse. “I realized that alcoholism is always perceived as a disease that only affects older while males and mothers. Very few films talk about the alcoholism that young woman inherits,” said Tervo.
The director pointed out that Finland had a conservative society, in contrast with other Scandinavian countries like Sweden or Denmark which are highly progressive. “I’ve never seen in a Finnish film with a young and single woman in a leading role who is misbehaving and has flaws. There is a very conservative portrayal of women in Finnish films,” added Tervo.
Tervo said she watched a flurry of romantic comedies and female-centric films, including “When Harry Meets Sally,” “It Happened One Night,” as well as “Bridesmaids” and “Trainwreck,” prior and during the writing of “Aurora.” She said “Toni Erdmann” was big inspiration for the unconventional and raw study of a modern, goofy woman.
“The main thing for me what to get the audience to feel empathy and tenderness towards Aurora, the main character, who is flawed and goofy but so authentic that people would find commonalities,” explained Tervo.
Although the film addresses social and political issues as it deals with a woman financially struggling in the Arctic ghetto, and a refugee seeking asylum, Tervo said she didn’t want to make a political statement through “Aurora.”
“The film isn’t about the whole political backdrop; it’s really about the encounter between these two characters who come from different worlds and are brought together by the forces of nature,” said Tervo.