Nordisk Film & TV Fond: Finnish Film Affair closes with pitch prizes to The Missile, Lovable, Showtime in Helsinki

By Annika Pham / Nordisk Film & TV Fond



The three films won respectively best fiction, best Nordic and best documentary pitch at Helsinki’s 12th industry event attended by over 500 delegates from 26 countries.

The jury of the best Finnish fiction and Nordic projects consisting of Franziska Bioh, acquisitions manager at MUBI, Steve Gravestock, former senior Programmer at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Josef Kullengård, Göteborg’ head of industry, said they were “impressed with all the projects and pitches, as well as the range of genres."

In their motivation note about Tervo's sophomore feature The Missile, the jury said the project had stayed in their minds already from the development stage: “The director’s personal voice can be heard in the timeless but also topical northern comedy, with plenty of local character and international potential,” they said.

Currently in post-production, the absurd comedy drama based on real events, is set in 1984, in a small village in Lapland. The local community’s daily routine is turned upside when a Russian missile lands in their back yard. “It’s a film about borders and boundaries" said the director who herself witnessed the missile incident.

The project produced by Kaisla Viitala of Komeeta Film with Estonia’s Stellar Film and support by Nordisk Film & TV Fond among others, is due to release in Finland early 2024. The €3,000 best fiction project award was sponsored by the Finnish Film Foundation.

In a very tight Nordic competition, Norway’s Lovable directed by rising talent Lilja Ingofsdóttir for seasoned producer Thomas Robsahm (The Worst Person in the World), picked up the €3,000 best Nordic pitch prize sponsored by Konstsamfundet. “This film has a distinctive but universal approach into the division of labour in modern relationships. It’s a compelling story with impressive potential to reach audiences around the world,” said the jury.

Lovable stars the relatively new faces on the international scene - Helga Guren and Oddgeir Thune - as a couple in crisis. For Maria, her marital break-up is an opportunity for self-growth and for dealing with unconscious and dysfunctional patterns in herself, according to the director.

The project produced by Robsahm for Nordisk Film Production and Amarcord is handled internationally by TrustNordisk.

The jury of the €3,000 AVEK sponsored best documentary award consisting of producer Oleksandra Kravchenko (Moon Man), Sheffield fest programmer Mita Suri, and Women Make Movies’s Debra Zimmerman said about the winner Showtime Helsinki: “the project sheds light to an interesting and pivotal event in political history, and addresses alarming issues with genuine humour.” They were impressed by “the commitment and passion of the team and how the artistic vision skilfully presents to a modern audience.”

The archive-based documentary directed by Arthur Franck, chronicles the July 1975 Helsinki Accords or Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe, attended by 35 world leaders.

The meeting at the time viewed as “meaningless” by Henry Kissinger, eventually fuelled the demise of the Soviet Empire and totalitarian rule in Eastern Europe.

The director said he will use a deadpan humour to highlight “the banality of the conference that changed the world.” Oskar Forstén is producing for Polygraf. The premiere is set for 2024-25.

Other buzz titles included Sweden’s coming-of-age drama Glaspest by Elina Sahlin, Denmark’s stone age drama thriller Stranger by Mads Hedegaard which impressed with the use of a recreated pre-Indo-European language for authenticity, and Iceland’s dark comedy Grand Finale by Sigurjon Kjartansson.

Projects in development that stirred buyers’ interest included the horror films The Mire by newcomer Marika Harjusaariand produced by Hatching’s Silva Mysterium, and Will-o'-the-Wisp by American Film Institute graduate Hanna Västinsalo.

Among FFA attendees, TrustNordisk’s sales manager Nikolai Korsgaard said about the pitches: “I thought the sessions gave a good impression on local storytelling, and I could see some go further internationally. In order to travel, you really need original stories, high concept etc to get the international attention, and it’s not an easy job today,” he noted.

Japanese distributor Utako Morishita-a regular FFA participant and buyer of Nordic docs, said she was impressed by the docs Showtime in Helsinki, Maija Hirvonen’s Neurotypes, and The Last Misfits by the Golden River. She also praised the wide range of fiction projects relevant to Japanese audiences such as the series The Boy Next Door about the danger of sexual abuse, which would be timely in Japan, currently immersed in the scandal around the biggest J-pop and boyband talent agency Johnny & Associates. She said the Finnish docs series Kona! Dream Big, Pitch Hard about the local sports hero Konsta Kurikka’s dream to make it to the Major League Baseball in the US would also appeal to the huge baseball Japanese fan base.

Commenting on this year’s 500+ industry participants, the head of Finnish Film Affair & Nordic Flair Maria Pirkkalainen-Barber said she was “really happy to keep growing our audiences both internationally and in Finland, and to keep attracting new attendees” as a third of this year’s industry event were first-time attendees.

Meanwhile the parallel Love & Anarchy - Helsinki International Film Festival announced a list of winners of the short film competition, such as the Aurora top prize handed out to the Swedish/Finnish co-production Lizard Brain (Reptilhjärnan) by Elisabeth Marjanovic Cronvall.

Please find the original article here.


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