Outstanding female talents were celebrated at Helsinki’s industry event where half of the 25 Finnish projects pitched were female directed.
On Wednesday evening’s closing ceremony of Finnish Film Affair at Helsinki’s popular restaurant/sauna Löyly, One-Off Incident was handed out the coveted €3,000 Best Project Award, celebrating the Fiction in Progress with the biggest international potential.
The project produced by Tuffi Films, will be a feature film, a collection of 10 short films, and an impact campaign to raise awareness on the invisible exercise of power used towards women, both in private and public circles. The Tuffi Films initiative had already won Best Pitch Project Award at Haugesund’s recent Nordic Co-Production and Finance Market. This is the company’s second Finnish Film Affair-Best Project Award in a row, after their 2017 pitch for Selma Vilhunen’s Stupid Young Heart, opening film of this year’s industry event.
Jury members Mark Adams (Edinburgh International Film Festival), Agneta Perman (SVT), Steven Bestwick (The Yellow Affair) said they picked On-Off Incident from seven strong Fictions in Progress, ‘for its timeless and well-thought out strategy, for providing potential for similar projects in other countries, for the potential to engage an audience to continue the discussion."
Three of the 12 female directors associated to One-Off Incident - Miia Tervo, Inari Niemi and Jenni Toivoniemi- had also individual feature projects that attracted much attention from international industry delegates. Tervo’s debut film Aurora (previously pitched at Haugesund’s New Nordic Films) was the second favourite Fiction in progress, for its story-a warm and humorous love relationship between an Iranian asylum seeker and a party animal girl in Finnish Lapland- and strong personal pitch by the director and producer Max Malka.
Among the 12 Fictions in Development, Games that People Play by Jenni Toivoniemi (Sundance short film winner with The Date) is a comedy drama about a group of old friends regressing to their teenage roles during a holiday weekend together. In the ensemble cast is Border actor Eero Milonoff. The film is produced by Tuffi Films, in co-production with HOBAB (Sweden) and Poland’s Match & Spark.
Light Light Light by Inari Niemi (Summertime) written by her sister Juuli Niemi, is a powerful story of first love between two teen girls in 1986 Western Finland, watched in retrospect two decades later by one of the protagonists. The €1.2m project produced by Lucy Loves Drama’s Oskari Huttu, is set to start production in the spring 2019.
Other buzzed fiction projects in development were Memory of Water by Saara Saarela (Bufo), My Sailor, My Love by Klaus Härö (Making Movies), The Oasis of Now by Hamy Ramezan (Aamu Filmi) and the horror flick The Twin by Taneli Mustonen (Don Films).
Two strong Docs in development also attracted interest: Future Remains by Anna-Karin Grönroos (Parad Production), about the power of idealism through the story of Henrik Wahlforss, an industrial designer who believed design can change the future, as well as The Happy Worker by award-winning John Webster (Yellow Film & TV), investigating the link between the office workplace and happiness.
Several industry delegates attending for the first time, said they were impressed by the quality of the pitches, variety of titles on offer, as well as the relaxed and professional Finnish Film Affair set up. Lauren Valmadre, Sales Manager at LevelK said: “several projects showed a very strong connection between the director and producer, a key ingredient to make a great film. There was a mix of promising talents and established directors, so the future looks bright for Finnish Cinema.”
Steven Bestwick, Head of Sales & Business at the sales outfit The Yellow Affair had 1-2 projects in mind and enjoyed discovering new Finnish talents. Cats & Docs’s Festival Manager and Acquisitions Maëlle Guenegues said it was worthwhile attending Finnish Film Affair to track upcoming docs and have an overview of what’s coming from Finland.
Industry panels held during the 7th Finnish Film Affair included ‘Doing Business with China’ and two actors-focused panels: ‘Unveiling the Casting process’ with top international agents and casting directors, and a ‘Peer-to Peer-All Actors’ panel with Norway’s Rune Temte (Captain Marvel), Sweden’s Hanna Alström (Kingsman: The secret Service), Sweden/Norway’s Amalia Holm (Alena), Sweden’s Edvin Endre (Vikings) and Finland’s Samuli Vauramo (Unknown Soldier).
Finnish Film Affair was held parallel to the 31st Helsinki International Film Festival, closing on Sunday.
Full line up of Finnish works in progress pitched in Helsinki.
Fiction in Progress:
Docs in progress:
Photo left to right:
Back row Steve Bestwick (Yellow Affair), Agneta Perman (SVT), Mark Adams (Edinburgh International FF), jury members, Holding the diploma Best Project Award for Tuffi Films in the middle: Elli Toivoniemi (producer/writer/director), Jenni Toivoniemi (writer/director), Miia Tervo, in the front Anna Paavilainen, Aino Suni, Inari Niemi.