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Finnish film-making takes the spotlight locally and abroad

Family Time producers Emilia Haukka and Jussi Rantamäki from Elokuvayhtiö Aamu celebrate their big night.

Jaakko Meyn & Lucas Ekblade / Filmiaura ry

The Finnish film industry celebrates the best of 2023, and British film star Dame Emma Thompson speaks in glowing terms about filming in Finland.

The “Finnish Oscars”, officially the Jussi Film Awards, celebrated Finnish films that premiered in 2023 at its 80th-anniversary gala in March. Tia Kouvo’s directorial debut, Family Time (Mummola), was the biggest winner of the evening, clinching the coveted Best Director, Best Script and Film of The Year honours.

The film, set at an annual Christmas family gathering, is a heartfelt exploration of family dynamics and personal relationships laced with dry humour. It follows how tensions rise between three generations of Finns amid the celebrations.

The most awards of the night, four in total, went to Jalmari Helander’s action film Sisu. The film, a commercial success grossing 14.3 million US dollars worldwide, was recognised for cinematography, editing, production design and make-up. Another significant winner was Je’vida, which won three awards for music, sound design and costume design. Directed by Katja Gauriloff, it is the first feature film entirely in the Skolt Sámi dialect.

Aki Kaurismäki’s internationally acclaimed Fallen Leaves was left without honours at the award ceremony. However, one of its leads, Golden Globe nominee Alma Pöysti, was named best actor for her role in Four Little Adults. Furthermore, Kati Outinen, a regular in Kaurismäki films, received the Concrete Jussi for her career spanning over 40 years. The jury described her work as exhibiting courage, unconventionality and curiosity.

The Jussi Film Awards are handed out by the Filmiaura Association. It has over 600 members who represent film makers, distributors, journalists, cinema operators and other professionals working with Finnish film.

Natural hospitality

Meanwhile, two-time Oscar winner Dame Emma Thompson was recently in Finland filming Brian Kirk’s upcoming action-thriller, The Fisherwoman. According to Thompson, the film takes place in Minnesota, USA, but since there was no snow in Minnesota due to climate change, all the outdoor scenes were shot in Koli, Finland.

In a letter written to the biggest Finnish daily, Helsingin Sanomat, Thompson spoke in glowing terms about her experience.

“What supported me at all times was the extraordinary nature of the environment and the people. From the moment I landed, I was met with kindness and warmth, with deep hospitality and humour by people who made my stay in Koli feel more and more like home.”

The Finnish landscape filled Thompson with “a daily sense of awe”.


Additionally, Thompson praised the Finnish crew for being peculiarly well suited to film work. “They were calm. They were confident. They worked incredibly hard and without complaint, no matter how insane the hours or the weather.”

“They cared for us, they kept us safe, and they showed us where the best bars were, which was perhaps the most essential thing of all,” Thompson added.

The Fisherwoman was one of many international productions to receive the AV Incentive, a government initiative enabling them to save up to 25 per cent of their costs by filming in Finland.

“I would give anything to get the chance to work here again and therefore thank everyone who is working so hard to keep the AV incentive alive and kicking.”

“I would encourage colleagues in my industry with all my heart to locate productions here – if you need dramatic landscape, it is here, if you need brave-hearted, highly sensitive and indomitable crew people, they are here, if you need comfort and a homely life, it is here,” Thompson said.

By: Eeva Haaramo