23.09.2022 | Helsinki Film Festival

Finnish Film Affair announces its Best Project Award winners

International juries awarded the event's top prizes to Je'vida (dir. Katja Gauriloff), Natatorium (dir. Helena Stefáns Magneudóttir) and The Last Chapter (dir. Mohamed El Aboudi)

The 11th edition of Finland’s international industry destination Finnish Film Affair came to an end on Friday. Organised in the heart of Helsinki, the international event was attended by close to 500 guests from 22 countries and 3 continents. “Compared to our last non-hybrid edition in 2019, we’ve had a 25% increase in attendance. It really shows the strength and appeal of both the local industry and our event,” notes Head of Finnish Film Affair & Nordic Flair Maria Pirkkalainen. 

The winner of the event’s Best Fiction Project Award was Je’vida. Currently in post-production, the dramatic / historical feature weaves through three different places in time as Skolt Sámi Iida recounts her story of memory, survival and personal growth. The project is directed by Katja Gauriloff of A Shout into the Wind and Canned Dreams fame, and is produced by Joonas Berghäll of Oktober oy. Gauriloff and Berghäll were on-scene at FFA to pitch the project. 

The international jury deciding on the winning project consisted of Jason Gutierrez, Programmer at Tribeca Film Festival, Eleonora Pesci, Acquisitions Executive at Curzon, and Claire Willats, Director of Film Nordics at Netflix. The jury noted that “The winning project is a story that needs to be told, with real potential to become relatable globally. The presentation and cinematography felt personal, beautiful and visually striking.

Finnish Film Affair’s Best Nordic Project Award was awarded to Natatorium, produced by Bjartsýn Films (Iceland). Currently in production, Natatorium is a dramatic thriller that explores the dark, underlying secrets of a family’s matriarch that erupt in a tragedy that nobody could have foreseen. The project is directed by Helena Stefáns Magneudóttir, and produced by Sunna Guðnadóttir of Bjartsýn Films, Julia Elomäki of Tekele Productions, and Heather Millard of Silfurskjár. Guðnadóttir and Elomäki were on-scene to pitch, accompanied by a video greeting by Magneudóttir. 

When deciding on the winning project, the jury, which also chose the Best Fiction project, noted “This is an intriguing project that we’d love to follow and explore more. Despite having just started filming, the film already feels like it has a distinctive, atmospheric voice and a style that grabbed our attention.”

Finnish Film Affair’s Best Documentary Project Award went to The Last Chapter, produced by Icebreaker Productions. The documentary follows three immigrants in Finland, Paul (87), Justin (68) and Sisto (69), who face the question of where and how they want to spend the last chapters of their lives. The film is directed by Mohamed El Aboudi (School of Hope) and produced by Kirsi Mattila.

“The project tackles complex and universal questions that will become more and more relevant, and haven’t been touched before. The jury felt the creative intention of the director very strongly and believes this award can help the project realise its potential”, noted the jury, which consisted of Pierre-Alexis Chevit, Head of Cannes Docs at Marché du Film - Festival de Cannes, Poppy McAlister, Sales Manager at TVF International, and Shane Smith, Artistic Director at Hot Docs.

Sponsored by Finnish Film Foundation, Konstsamfundet and AVEK respectively, each award is worth 3,000€ which will go towards the project’s international marketing (Best Fiction & Nordic) or making an international trailer (Best Documentary). 

Some of the other projects that whipped up considerable attention in international meetings were The Worst Idea Ever and Four Little Adults, Nordic Selection’s Handling the Undead, as well as the documentary Start Me Up. The event has already scheduled over 200 meetings for its projects, with many more to come. A recording of the pitching showcase will be available for delegates after the event. 

The 12th Finnish Film Affair will take place in September 2023. 

Press photos:

For more information:

Maria Pirkkalainen, Head of Finnish Film Affair & Nordic Flair

maria@hiff.fi, +358505448763