As the Finnish film affair enters its second decade, organizers of the annual industry event, which runs parallel to the Helsinki International Film Festival — Love & Anarchy, can both look back on 10 years of success and look ahead at ways to Finnish and Scandinavian film industry continue to serve.
“The Finnish Film Affair started in 2012 with 240 participants. This year, for our 11th edition, we have nearly 500 delegates from over 20 countries, a third of whom are international guests and buyers,” said Finnish Film Affair director Maria Pirkkalainen. Variety on the eve of the event, which will run from September 21 – 23.
It’s a return to form for a Scandinavian showcase that, like other industry events around the world, has seen a series of disruptions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
“The last few years have not been the easiest for the Scandinavian film industry, and festivals and market events have also had their share of challenges,” said Pirkkalainen. “With the help and support of both old and new partners and collaborators, we are absolutely thrilled to bring our biggest and brightest event yet for everyone this year.”
In addition to a showcase of nearly 50 Finnish films in the programme, the Finnish Film Affair includes a host of discussions on topics ranging from the prospects for theatrical distribution in Scandinavia to the challenges and dreams of an emerging generation of filmmakers in their twenties.
Part of the event’s success has been its ability to evolve as Pirkkalainen — now in her fourth year at the helm — and the organizing team continue to look for ways to respond to the needs of the industry. “As both the Finnish film industry and the event continue to grow, the question we had a few years ago was ‘Where to now?’” she says.
A new wrinkle introduced two years ago was an award for a first or second feature film director from the Nordic region – an example of the Finnish film affair going beyond its host country roots. The biggest addition this year is the focus on Finnish drama series through a partnership with the New Nordic Narratives development lab, which will include the onstage presentation of four new local drama series in the early development phase during the Finnish content showcase. movie affair on Sept.
That showcase will present 26 feature film and documentary projects to industry guests, including four feature films in the Nordic Selection competing for the prize for the best Scandinavian project. Six Finnish feature films in development will be pitched live to an audience, alongside seven works of fiction in progress and six documentaries from the host country at various stages of development and production. Some of the films that have launched from the Helsinki stage in recent years include Juho Kuosmanen’s ‘The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki’, Teemu Nikki’s ‘The Euthanizer’ and Selma Vilhunen’s ‘Stupid Young Heart’. .
In addition, the Finnish Film Affair’s lineup includes 13 fictional films and eight documentaries that have already been completed and selected by the organizers for their strong international potential. Among them are Klaus Härö’s English-language debut “My Sailor, My Love” (pictured), which will be screened in Helsinki just after its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and the documentary “Karaoke Paradise”, by director Einari Paakkanen, which played at Visions du Réel and CPH:DOX in Copenhagen earlier this year.
To measure the event’s success, one needs to look no further than attendance figures which have risen by 20% since Pirkkalainen took over in 2019 – despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19. “It was already a great event with an excellent reputation when I took the helm, and it feels like we have now reached the next level internationally and have definitely taken our place as a major industrial destination,” she says.
To celebrate the first decade of the Finnish film affair, the organizing team recently compiled their first industry impact report, gathering input and case studies from both the local and international industry to assess the effect of the event on the growing Finnish film industry.
“It was so amazing and encouraging to see the concrete impact we’ve had on the industry over the past 10 years,” said Pirkkalainen. “The Finnish film affair is of course not the only thing that has contributed to the development of the Finnish industry in a more international direction; the producers, filmmakers, financiers, as well as the audiovisual boost, are all to thank. But having an event that brings everyone together and has a well-loved reputation internationally has and will have a big impact on this.”