Finding our way to festivals again

Director Anu Kuivalainen and producers Pasi Hakkio (Wacky Tie Films) and Isabella Karhu (Danish Bear) are looking forward to Nordisk Panorama.

Nordisk Panorama, the key festival for Nordic documentary and short films, takes place on September 17–27. The festival will be a hybrid event mixing online screenings and in-person gatherings in Malmö. The industry platform Forum is held fully online. 514 entries were submitted for the festival’s competition and 67 films in total were selected – 13 Finnish films are nominated in the competition.

Among the nominated films is the feature Still Into You by Anu Kuivalainen. Still Into You follows 70–85-year-old couples, telling the story of aging and love. “In our minds love belongs to young people, not to the elderly. However, love and sexuality do not fade as people age. They might transform, but they don’t just vanish from people’s lives,” states Kuivalainen.

She wants to change how people view the elderly: as active subjects of their own life, not just caregivers to grandchildren or dependent on the care of others. “The people in the film have the ability to focus on the good things in their lives, not on the things they have lost,” Kuivalainen continues.

As we all know, the corona pandemic challenges things, like reaching audiences as well as expanding and networking internationally. “I’m a bit nervous about how the audiences will find the movie,” Kuivalainen tells. “I make movies for the big screen and it’s sad that the viewers cannot experience that. Anyhow, fretting things doesn’t really ease the situation,” she continues.

Still Into You

Wacky Tie growing internationally

Along with the feature films, there is also a great variety of Finnish short films nominated in Nordisk Panorama. Two of them are Canary by Risto-Pekka Blom and The Best Possible Life by Jussi Sandhu and Ville Hakonen. “Here we have two works that have an excellent potential to circle the festivals. Both films are rather short and made in a bold and distinguishable way,” tells producer Pasi Hakkio of Wacky Tie Films.

Canary

Blom has had previous success with short films. The Best Possible Life, in turn, seems to resonate in Finland’s neighbouring countries, which is understandable since it focuses on Finland’s image. Wacky Tie is planning on building a continued relationship with all three filmmakers.

International co-operation offers new perspectives, possibilities to work with European top professionals as well as bigger potential audiences, according to Hakkio. “However, maybe the most important thing about expanding internationally is that it forces us to consider our projects outside of our own social bubbles and viewpoints. How the film could communicate the things even wider?”

One of those projects is Clouds, a feature documentary by Tuija Halttunen, that was presented in Forum last year, as well as IDFA’s Forum. Currently it is being developed in dok.incubator. “Corona slowed down the financing but recently things have started to roll,” Hakkio says. “Right now we are editing and looking for an opening festival for next year.” Expectations are high as the film has already gained a lot of interest internationally.

Hakkio feels it is important to attend festivals and watch movies together with new audiences – unfortunately this year it has not really been a possibility. On the other hand, it’s really important to also rest, develop the projects and prepare for the coming circulations. “We are still excited to see what happens after Nordisk Panorama – we trust that world will surprise use positively in these strange times.”

Danish Bear on a mission

The Finnish Film Foundation’s wild card pitching in Forum is The Mission by Tania Moilanen. The feature documentary follows four Mormon teens during their missionary work in Finland. The film’s main target audience is young adults, but the film could also speak to a more mature audience, states producer Isabella Karhu of Danish Bear.

“While the lives of Mormon teens is heavily shaped by their religion, they are also of course, just regular teenagers in terms of their hopes, concerns and uncertainties about their future – something that we can all identify regardless of our background,” she continues.

The Mission will be Danish Bear’s second feature-length documentary. Currently it’s in production with domestic financing. The project also has Dirk Manthey Film Ug, a German co-producer, on board — it would be the company’s first international production.

“We still have some artistic crew positions open, for which we are looking into Nordic talents. All in all, Nordisk Panorama will also be a wonderful opportunity to update the film’s progress to the parties to whom we have presented the film before, along with reaching new potential partners for co-production, distribution and broadcasting opportunities,” tells Karhu.

As Danish Bear hit the 5-year landmark, the company feels like expanding and is looking towards participating in international co-productions both in terms of working as the main producer, as well as looking for interesting projects outside of Finland which we think would be relevant also to the Finnish audiences. “We don’t have any set m.o. in our company – we are passionate about cinema and are drawn to projects that speak to us both on a personal and universal level.”

The Mission