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HBO’s first Finnish production portrays life during coronavirus

AJ Annila received a Jussi Award for Best Directing for The Eternal Road (Ikitie) in 2018.Andres Teiss

Seven Finnish directors have each produced a short film on the theme of adapting to life during the coronavirus pandemic for HBO Nordic.

Called Isolated, the experimental and genre-crossing series is set to premiere on the subscription-based on-demand service later this year, according to YLE.

The directors contributing to the first original Finnish production for HBO are AJ Annila, Alli Haapasalo, Mikko Kuparinen, Mika Kurvinen, Teemu Nikki, Marja Pyykkö and Aleksi Salmenperä. Both Annila and Salmenperä have been recognised for their directing works at Jussi Awards, the Finnish equivalent to the Academy Awards.

Each director was allowed to choose the genre of their film freely.

“Due to the circumstances, the format was both limiting and challenging. On the other hand, we were able to do what we wanted within that framework. I got to try things that wouldn’t fit a normal TV story,” Kuparinen told YLE.

He described his film as a satire about a couple who are frustrated by the pandemic situation – a sentiment, he added, he can relate to.

“The story unfolds when they both blame the state of emergency for everything that bothers them in their lives. The story started naturally from myself and my own moments of everyday frustration,” he recounted.

Haapasalo revealed to the public broadcaster that she filmed her episode with a team of five women in her block of flats – mostly in the flat of her cottage-dwelling neighbours – in May.

“They were at their summer cottage because of the coronavirus. I asked them how they would react to three days of filming in their apartment,” she told. “Disinfectant was used and hands were washed. There were no protective masks though, except for the make-up artist, who had to go close to the actors.”

The series is currently in production and set to premiere on an unspecified date on HBO Nordic before becoming available elsewhere in Europe later in 2020.

By: Aleksi Teivainen