GÖTEBORG, Sweden: “All the Sins”’ Finnish co-writers and creators Mika Ronkainen and Merja Aakko, winners of last year’s Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for outstanding Nordic screenplay, are developing for MRK Matila Röhr Productions an adoption drama set between Finland and Guatemala.
Based on a true story, the six-part series “Act of Telling” (a working title) will examine child adoption through the story of a young Finnish couple and their Guatemala-born son. The respectable father has harbored a secret for seven years -a crime he committed when he travelled alone for the adoption. When a journalist friend starts to ask questions about the son’s biological parents, the mystery threatens to come to light.
Producer Ilkka Matilä said that Finnish public broadcaster Yle has ordered the concept from the writing duo. He’s now looking for a “potential co-production partner who could facilitate the Guatemala shoot.”
In early development, the drama would sit perfectly next to MRP Matila Röhr’s Spanish/Finnish-language premium crime “The Paradise,” jointly developed and produced with The Mediapro, Studio, and the multi-language “The Peacemaker,” partly shot in the Canary Islands.
Presented at Göteborg’s TV Drama Vision this week, the two high-end dramas are part of MRP Matila Röhr’s strategy to ramp-up local stories with an international potential, and its recent immersion in the Spanish-language world.
“Scandinavia has a long tradition of co-producing with Germany but few projects so far have been made with Spain,” notes the company’s co-founder and producer Marko Röhr who set up an office on Spain’s Costa del Sol in 2019 to supervise both “The Paradise” and “The Peacemaker”.
Crime drama “The Paradise,” slated to air on Yle from Feb. 9, is MRP Matila Röhr’s second series in a row to run for the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize in Göteborg. This year’s writing candidate is thesp-turned crime writer Matti Laine (“Bordertown”). The show -co-developed with input from The Mediapro Studio’s Ran Tellem- is set in a small community of Finnish expats, living in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol. Marja Pyykkö directs. Röhr says that despite the cultural and language gaps, the collaboration with Tellem and Mediapro was “fantastic.”
“We held to the budget, everything went according to plan, and we were so happy to have Spanish star actor Fran Perea on board, playing opposite Riitta Havukainen.”
Röhr is waiting for the first ratings in Finland and Spain to get a greenlight for Season 2.
MRP Matila Röhr’s next major international series to be sneak-peeked in Göteborg, ahead of its premiere on Yle in August, is “The Peacemaker,” helmed by AJ Annila (“The Eternal Road”). The 10-part series, set between Turkey, Syria and Spain, plumbs a world of peacemakers, international arms trade dealings, and the deep-layered relationships with people in power. Among the top advisors who helped screenwriter Eriika Etholen create fiction characters from true stories, was Finland’s former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari.
Headlining the international cast are Irina Björklund, (“Bordertown”), Louise Peterhoff (“Blue Eyes”) and Kardo Razzazi (“Arne Dahl”). The €7.5m ($8.25 milion) series was co-financed by Yle with the other Nordic pubcasters: DR, SVT, NRK and RÚV. REInvent Studios (against world distribution) and tax credits in Finland and the Canary Islands. The Lumière Group has snapped rights for Benelux. Röhr said that “The Peacemaker” was conceived from inception as a multi-season show. He is now searching for potential co-producers for Season 2 which will be “even bigger” in scale and take up geopolitics in the Arctic.
The next highly-anticipated series slated to bow on Finnish streaming service Elisa Viihde in the fall is the sequel to hit crime series “All the Sins”. Penned once more by Ronkainen and Aakko, the show goes back in time to 1999 and centres on police officer Jussi Ritola (Matti Ristinen) as he investigates a new murder case in the religious Laestadian community in Varjakka, northern Finland.
Season 1 of “All the Sins” launched Dec. 20, 2019 in the U.S. on Walter Presents, via the PBS Masterpiece channel on Amazon Prime and the Walter Presents digital channels. NBCUniversal Global Distribution handles world distribution.
(Pictured: Mika Ronkainen and Merja Aakko; “The Paradise”; “All the Sins”)