More than 300 film & TV professionals –including 80 international guests- are attending the 8th Finnish Film Affair, kick starting tonight with the screening of Zaida Bergroth’ Maria’s Paradise.

For her first time at the helm of the industry sidebar of the Helsinki International Film Festival, Maria Pirkkalainen is thrilled to welcome high-ranking industry people from around the world, including first-timer Scott Farris from Amazon Studios.

“My own background is in festival, distribution and exhibition,” says the  FFA producer who spent the last five years in the UK –working for the Independent Cinema Office, and the British Film Institute among others. ”With one-day dedicated to works in progress, and one-day with panels and discussions, on top of the popular sauna/dinner, people get a lot from attending FFA. We have many returnees and the word of mouth among industry attendees is very strong,” Pirkkalainen told

“This year’s main theme is sustainability,” continues the head of FFA, pointing out at eco-friendly handbooks, bags, shuttle buses available to delegates. “Sustainability in filmmaking” is also the subject of a panel on Thursday with Timo Argillander (IPR.VC
), Kaisa Astikainen (sustainability coordinator at BUFO) and television freelancer Anne Puolanne.

‘Contracts and Rights’ moderated by producer Gudrun Giddings (G4C Innovation) will be discussed by producer Kim Magnusson (Soya Entertainment) entertainment lawyer Orly Ravid (The Film Collaborative) and Elisa Alvares (IPR.VC), ‘Festival Strategy’ by Jana Wolff (European Film Market), while the importance of ‘Marketing and PR’ will be explained by Berlin-based Wolf Consultants.

The Nordic Flair workshop on Thursday and Friday, focusing on career development, is expanding this year beyond actors. “Acting talents remain our core focus as we are the only industry event offering casting sessions to 15 Nordic actors with six top international talent agents,” says Pirkkalainen. “But we want to bring directors and composers to the forefront as well, as the growing number of co-productions in film and television provide greater opportunities for everyone.”

To mark Nordic Flair’s new focus on directors, this year’s recipient of the third Nordic Flair Award is writer/director Lone Scherfig who will give a master-class on Friday. Her latest film The Kindness of Strangers will have its Nordic premiere at the Helsinki Film Festival. Nordic Flair is supported by Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

FFA’s piece de resistance, the works in progress session, has 24 feature films and documentaries in development and post-production, including 10 debut films. Pirkkalainen stresses that 58% in the works in development are by female directors. 

 Among the anticipated Finnish works in progress are the horror film Hatching (previously known as Birds of a Feather) by Hanna Bergholm, Nimby by Teemu Nikki (nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize for Euthanizer), the biopic Helene by Antti J. Jokinen, about celebrated painter Helene Schjerfbeck, and Oasis of Now by Hamy Ramezan, winner of the Screen International Best Pitch at the last Baltic Event in Tallinn.

Features in development include The Good Driver, first fiction film by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Tonislav Hristov (The Good Postman).

Works in progress docs include Tukdam: a Question of Life and Death by established Irish filmmaker Donagh Coleman which chronicles the passing of a few Tibetan meditators, and Here Be Monsters about human clutter in oceans sea, directed by up and coming Anna Antsalo.

For the first time, the pitching event will include a presentation of seven Finnish TV dramas with international appeal, to respond to the growing international demand for quality drama.

Full list of works in progress and in development:

Feature films in Works in Progress

  • Eden by Ulla Heikkilä (Tekele Productions) 
  • Games People Play by Jenni Toivoniemi (Tuffi Films) 
  • Goodbye Soviet Union by Lauri Randla (Exitfilm, Bufo) 
  • Hatching by Hanna Bergholm (Silva Mysterium) 
  • Helene by Antti J. Jokinen (Finland Cinematic, Stellar Films) 
  • Layers of Lies by Ramin Sohrab (Sonram Productions) 
  • Nimby by Teemu Nikki (It's Alive Films) 
  • Oasis of Now (Working title) by Hamy Ramezan (Aamu Film Company, Three Gardens Film)

Feature films in Development

  • The Adventures of Master Elf by Rosa Karo (Sons of Lumiere) 
  • Friday by Alli Haapasalo (Citizen Jane Productions) 
  • A Girl's Room by Aino Suni (Adastra Films (FR), Made (FI), Oma Inge Film (DE) 
  • The Good Driver by Tonislav Hristov (Making Movies, Soul Food) 
  • Kerttu alias If I Would Talk To You by Kirsi Marie Liimatainen (Ilanga Films) 
  • Khadar's Ghost by Sami Laitinen (Inland Film Company) 
  • A Light That Never Goes Out by Lauri-Matti Parppei (Made) 
  • Sound from the Deep (Twisted Films) 

Documentaries in Progress

  • Fragments of Humanity by Elli Rintala (Kinocompany) 
  • Game of Minds by Petri Luukkainen, Jesse Jokinen (Napafilms) 
  • Here Be Monsters by Anna Antsalo (Tuffi Films) 
  • The Journeyman by Juha Rosma (Illume Ltd) 
  • Lady Time by Elina Talvensaari (Aamu Film Company) 
  • Tukdam; A Question of Life and Death by Donagh Coleman (Making Movies (FI), Wildfire Films (IE), Allfilm (EE))

Documentaries in Development

  • Clouds by Tuija Halttunen (Wacky Tie Films) 
  • SuperB by Mia Halme (Napafilms)

For the full programme of Finnish Film Affair, check: