It's a Finnish Film Affair for the HFPA at the Helsinki Festival

by HFPA September 27, 2017
General view of screenings at the Helsinki Film Festival 2017

helsinki film festival

The unique coming of age story Stupid Young Heart, from director Selma Vilhunen, won the Finnish Film Affair Work-in-Progress award at the recent Helsinki International Film Festival.

Around 60,000 people flocked to Finland to attend the 30th anniversary of the Love & Anarchy: Helsinki International Film Festival, held from September 14-26 and the three-person jury for the September 19-21 industry showcase event included HFPA member Jenny Cooney Carrillo.

The showcase began in 2012 to bring together Finnish filmmakers and international guests, highlighting the top 10 Works-in-Progress and 10 Works-in-Development and offering talent behind the projects a chance to meet with possible sales agents and other industry heavyweights.  Stupid Young Heart producers Elli Toivoniemi and Venla Hellstedt, from Tuffi Films, gave the award-winning presentation, including a peek at early footage of the film currently in production. They accepted the award on behalf of Vilhunen, who was still shooting the film just outside Helsinki, at a popular Sauna Dinner event sponsored by the HFPA and Finnish Film Affair at Helsinki hotspot restaurant and sauna, Loyly.

The three jurors - Zsuzsi Bankuti of The Match Factory, Marge Liiske of Baltic Event/Tallin Film Festival and the HFPA’s Cooney, said in a statement about their choice to take home 3,000 Euros to use towards international marketing; “Stupid Young Heart felt edgy, relevant and focused on the dilemma of making correct choices in a complex and contemporary world, both personally and morally. Even though it is in the early stages of filming, the footage was excellent and the presentation and talent behind the project made us confident the film could reach international attention and would benefit from this prize.”

Scenes from the 2017 Helsinki Film Festival

Scenes from the 30th Helsinki Film Festival: indoor and outdoor screenings, festival guest-of-honor Pilou Asbæk, and the Finnish Film Affair jury and winner - HFPA member Jenny Cooney Carrillo is third from left.

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Vilhunen’s debut short film, Do I Have To Take Care of Everything, was nominated for an Oscar in 2014 and her debut fiction feature film, Little Wing, premiered at TIFF in 2016. Little Wing was screened at the Finnish Film Affair last year and nominated for a Nordic Council Film Prize while Toivoniemi’s documentary feature, Once I was a Dragonfly, won the FFA award in 2015. Other work-in-progress films showcased included: The Guardian Angel, a psychological thriller starring Danish actor Pilou Asbaek and American actor Josh Lucas; The Violin Player, a romantic drama from acclaimed Finnish playwright and director Paavo Westerberg and East of Sweden, a suspense drama from Finnish writer and director Simo Halinen.

Another highlight of the festival, which included 175 feature films and 190 shorts, was a tribute to Danish actor Pilou Asbaek, whose credits include Game of Thrones and Ghost in the Shell. He received the inaugural award of The Nordic Flair, a newly launched program aimed at promoting and honoring Nordic talent, and HFPA members Jenny Cooney Carrillo and Finnish member Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros attended the reception to congratulate him.

North Finland Film Commissioner Anne Laurila gave a group of industry visitors including Cooney Carrillo and Uimonen Ballesteros a tour of the town of Oulu, which competes for incentives as a popular shooting location, and also introduced the group to local filmmakers at Mutant Koala Productions.