Other awards handed out September 23 at Helsinki’s biggest film industry event were Best Documentary project to Nasrine’s Voice and Best Nordic Fiction to The Great Silence.
After a full day of pitching of 24 Finnish and four Nordic film projects, more than 150 Finnish and international guests gathered on Thursday evening at the Finnish Film Affair’s crowd-pleasing sauna+dinner+awards ceremony at the Löyly architectural gem.
The film winning trio - still available for world sales - shared strong narratives about families and/or female empowerment. Both Bubble and The Great Silence were inspired by personal stories, a dramaturgic starting point shared by many fiction projects.
Bubble by Aleksi Salmenperä was bestowed the €3,000 Best Fiction Project Award from a jury consisting of Annina Wettstein, programmer for Scandinavia/German-speaking territories at the International Rotterdam Film Festival, Nele Paves, film commissioner, Estonian Film Institute and Fulko Kuindersma, acquisitions manager, Dutch Features.
The jury unanimously picked the drama comedy among a slate of six Finnish projects in post-production, for its “boldness, mix of humour and drama and new take of family relations, relatable to both children and parents internationally.”
The upcoming film by the award-winning Salmenperä (Bad Family, A Man’s Job) tells of 16-year-old Evelina’s, whose world collapses when she finds out about her mother’s extramarital affair with a woman. The teenager then tries to sabotage the affair to get her parents to fall in love again.
Bubble was pitched live at Helsinki by Rabbit Films producer and seasoned actress Minna Haapkylä who also plays one of the title roles. The film supported by Nordisk Film & TV will be released by Aurora Studios in Finland.
Meanwhile Nasrin’s Voice by seasoned director Kaisa Rastimo (A Respectable Tragedy, Hayflower and Quiltshoe) was voted Best Documentary Project from a jury including Will Tizard, CEE Correspondent, Variety, Kevin Chan, Head of Acquisitions, MUBI and Elaine Wong, Content Partnerships Manager, Viveport, HTC VIVE. The €3000 award from AVEK will go towards the making of an international trailer.
The jury was convinced by the “urgency of the untold story” of a young woman who no longer agrees to remain silent. The project pitched as well a few days ago at Nordisk Panorama Forum, is produced by Ella Ruohonen of Image Club.
Handed out for the first time, the Best Nordic Project Award was given out to the Danish feature The Great Silence by Katrine Brocks.
“We are very happy to support this great, fresh voice from the North. The context of the story is very impactful and you can really see it come alive on the big screens around the world,” said the Fiction Jury. The film tells of Alma, a young woman preparing for her perpetual vows at a catholic convent, suddenly confronted with feelings of guilt and shame when her brother -a recovering alcoholic comes to visit her. The project pitched remotely by the director and producer Pernille Tornøe, of Monolit, will be delivered in the spring 2022. (See separate story here).
Other projects in production or post-production that caught industry delegates attention include Tonislav Hristov’s first fiction film The Good Driver, the Icelandic family musical 12 Hours to Destruction by award-winning scriptwriter/director Nanna Kristín Magnusdóttir (Happily Never After, The Minister), Aku Louhimies’ actioner Omerta 6/12 and the documentary Alma-Who Am I? about Finnish pop sensation Alma, directed by Pamela Tola (Ladies of Steel).
Buzzed about fiction projects in development comprised Lex Julia by Laura Hyppönen (Live East Die), a drama about shame in sexual abuse, the period drama Stormskerry Maja by Tiina Lymi (Happy Times, Grump), Viva la Vida by Ulla Heikkilä, a bittersweet look at the expat Finnish community on the Spanish Costa del Sol, and the animated film Trash Monsters from the leading animation studio Anima Vitae, co-produced with Indonesia’s Nusa Film and Australia’s Seeding Pictures.
Among industry delegates, French sales agent Lucie Desquiens of Paris-based Charades, who was attending the Finnish Film Affair for the first time, was impressed by the condensed format of the pitching session, the eclectic and quality line-up. Charades’ recent intake of Nordic films include Wildmen and the documentary The Scars of Ali Boulala.
Long-time attendee Rose-Marie Strand of Swedish arthouse distribution outfit Folkets Bio, was also pleased with “the smooth pitching and quality films with interesting topics,” and was looking forward to releasing in Sweden the Finnish Cannes hits Compartment No.6 and The Gravedigger’s Wife.
TrustNordisk sales rep Silje Glimsdal said “most projects had strong stories, although she felt those in development perhaps lacked an international perspective and thought-out packaging to attract sales agents and foreign distributors. “From idea stage, producers and directors should think why they want to tell a story, and how to eventually attract a wider international audience,” she said.Glimsdal also underscored the large number of projects looking for sales, probably due to the larger volume of titles put into development during the pandemic.
Göteborg ‘s Nordic Film Market managing director Cia Edström praised the wide breath of fresh Finnish talent, some of which had attended Göteborg’s Nordic Film Lab such as Lauri-Matti Parppei, who pitched The Beast Friend (Tekele Productions) in development.
The Finnish Film Affair’s closing day September 24 will be dedicated to panel discussions about representation, private financing and sustainability.
The last session “Beyond Best Practices: What Should the Next Steps Be for a Sustainable Nordic Film Industry?' is co-organised by Nordisk Film & TV Fond, as part of Audiovisual Collaboration 2021.
More than 400 industry delegates attended the hybrid Finnish Film Affair including 300 on-site.
Helsinki’s Love & Anarchy closes Sunday September 26.