Helsinki: Best Pitch Award was split between Tom of Finland and Post-Punk Disorder

The two films –supported by Nordisk Film & TV Fond- were among 11 new Finnish films pitched at the 5th Finnish Film Affair held in Helsinki September 20-22.

The jury of the Best Pitch award including Cia Edström (head of Nordic Film Market, Gothenburg) Sergei Rakhlin (Chair of the Hollywood Foreign Language Films Committee), Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter) and Marie-Pierre Valle (Head of Acquisitions Wild Bunch) said Post Punk Disorder is ‘so funny and engaging and made with such humanity that we are convinced it will be appreciated around the world. Regarding Tom of Finland, they praised Karukoski who ‘employed expert craftsmanship to tell a story that is unmistakably Finnish but possesses universal appeal."

When handing out the split €3,000 Best Pitch Award, Feinberg said: “We were impressed by all works in progress so our decision was not an easy one." His view was shared by many of the 70 international delegates.

“All projects pitched were very strong,” said James Fler of Toronto-based Raven Banner Entertainment who acquired in Cannes The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki for his speciality Northern Banner Label.

His Canadian counterpart Robin Smith, founder of the speciality boutique operation Kinosmith that acquired in the past Dome Karukoski’s The Grump said: “Karukoski has obviously reached the next level of filmmaking with Tom of Finland and is ready to conquer Hollywood.” The buyer that released successfully in Canada the documentary The Punk Syndrome was keen to acquire the follow up Post Punk Disorder.

French distributor Jan Roeloffs of Jupiter Communications said: “Tom of Finland was an obvious front-runner, but other projects were very impressive such as The Unknown Soldier, Love & Fury, and the documentary The Good Postman.”

Favourite works in progress also included Eternal Road by AJ Annila just picked up by TrustNordisk, Thick Lashes of Lauri Mäntyvaara by debut director Hannaleena Hauru, sold by Paris-based Premium Films, and Law of the Land by newcomer Jussi Hiltunen.

Here is the full line up of Finnish works in progress pitched in Helsinki:

  • Love & Fury by Alli Haapasalo, Solar Films. The story of a life-altering love set in Helsinki in the 1980s is adapted from Anja Kauranen-Snellman’s best-selling novel. In the starring roles are Laura Birn (Purge) and Lauri Tilkanen (Tellus). The Finnish premiere is set for October 14. 
  • The Good Postman by Tonislav Hristov, Making Movies & Soul Food. Villagers in a small Bulgarian village find themselves in the middle of the refugee crisis. Ivan the postman wants to welcome some refugees while his opponents want the opposite. “The village is a microcosm of what’s happening right now in Europe”, said Hristov (Love & Engineering). The documentary is handled worldwide by Cats & Docs. 
  • Eternal Road by AJ Annila, MRP Matila Röhr Productions The epic story of one man’s struggle to survive is set in the 1930s. The film part of ‘Finland 100’ centenary celebration 2017 is based on Antti Tuuri’s best-selling eponymous novel. “It’s the story of a man who goes through hell and tries to go back home,” said Annila. The Finnish/Estonia/Swedish co-production will be delivered in May 2017 for a September 2017 release. TrustNordisk handles sales. 
  • Post Punk Disorder by Jukka Kärkkäinen and JP Passi, Mouka filmi. After the 2012 doc hit The Punk Syndrome, the film continues the story of the mentally disabled punk rock group PKN, as the band comes to an end. The Finnish/Swedish/Danish co-production will be delivered September 2017. 
  • Star Boys by Visa Koiso-Kanttila, Silva Mysterium. Star Boys is the first fiction by established documentary film director Koiso-Kanttila tells of 13 year-old Star Boy singers exposed to the arrival of sexual revolution in religious Northern Finland at the end of the 1970s. The film will premiere in Finland September 2017. 
  • The Unknown Soldier by Aku Louhimies, Elokuvaosakeyhtiö Suomi 2017 The WW2 drama based on Finland’s literary classic by Väinö Linna is a ‘compassionate look at human beings, their journey and how war affects them’, said the director. The film will be released in October 2017, to coincide with Finland’s centenary of its independence. Beta Cinema just picked up world sales. 
  • The Story of a Mobile Phone by ArtoKoskinen, Illume Oy The film about the rise and fall of Nokia by the people who created it, will be delivered in 2018. The film is co-produced by Piraya (Norway) and Lichtblick Media (Germany). First Hand Films handles sales. 
  • Euthanizer by Teemu Nikki, It’s Alive Films The dark comedy drama about a man merciful to animals but ruthless to humans is described by Nikki as ‘Dirty Harry with pets’. The film is ready for December. 
  • Law of the Land by Jussi Hiltunen, Making Movies The Finnish western set in a remote village in Lapland tells of a retired police officer (Ville Virtanen) trying to prevent his sons from killing each other. The film will be release in March 2017.
  • Thick Lashes of Lauri Mäntyvaara by Hannaleena Hauru, Aamu Film Two rebellious teenage girls try to sabotage posh summer weddings but their plan fails when one of them suddenly falls in love. The first feature of rising talent Hauru is a humorous coming of age film about friendship and the need to find a place in a community. The film is co-produced by France’ s 10:15. Premium Films hands sales. Delivery date is set for spring 2017. 
  • Tom of Finland by Dome Karukoski, Helsinki filmi. The story of Touko Laaksonen, better known as the iconic gay artist Tom of Finland, spread across four decades and was shot across five countries. “It’s the incredible story of a man who started a revolution about men but had to hide, said Karukoski. “He was a positive person but in an emotional jail”. The €4m Finnish/Swedish/Danish/German co-production will be ready in November 2016. Producer/writer Aleksi Bardy said he hopes to platform the film at an A festival early 2017. Protagonist Pictures handles sales.