Finnish director-producer Mika Kaurismaki will return to local filmmaking to shoot The House of Branching Love (Haarautuvan rakkauden talo), his first feature in Finnish since Zombie and the Ghost Train in 1991.

Credited with such films as Helsinki Napoli All Night Long, Rosso, The Clan and The Worthless, Kaurismaki - who has mainly been based in Rio de Janeiro - has made a dozen international movies, including documentaries on Brazilian music. (His brother Aki has still been active in local film-making in recent years.)

Scripted by Kaurismaki and Sami Keski-Vahala from Petri Karra's novel, and set to star Hannu-Pekka Bjorkman, Peter Franzen and Irina Bjorklund, The House of Branching Love will lense from July 15 for his own Marianna Films.

The $2.1m (Euros 1.4m) production follows the otherwise civilised divorce of a family therapist and a business trainer which goes totally out of control. FS Film will release the film domestically in February 2009.

Kaurismaki's Finnish come-back is one of seven new features backed with a total of $5.5m (Euros 3.6m) by the Finnish Film Foundation's new team of production consultants - Jukka Asikainen and Kaisu Ito.

Timo Koivusalo has started principal photography for the $4m (Euros 2.6m) Under the North Star (Täällä pohjantähden alla), his own story of a young Finn who joins the Red Guard and his experiences during the Finnish Civil War in 1918.

Ilkka Koivula will play the lead in the film which Koivusalo will himself produce for Artista Filmi on a March-October schedule, and Walt Disney Finland will handle local distribution with the premiere scheduled for December 2009.

Fresh from his box office success with Ganes, JP Siili has undertaken the $2.3m (Euros 1.5m) Blackout, a psychological thriller about a top surgeon (Petteri Summanen) who returns to work after a year in coma following a shot in the head.

The Olli Haikka production for Filmiteollisuus Fine, also scripted by Siili, will be launched by FS Film by the end of the year.

Not to be confused with that film of a similar title, Saara Saarela's $1.8m (Euros 1.2m) Blackouts (Katkoksia) is a family saga, scripted by Saarela and Selja Ahave, depicting the first time the Kuura parents are united with all their children under one roof, due to the father's hereditary disease. The Liisa Penttilä production for Edith Film will be ready in September 2009.

Dome Karukoski will direct the Eu1.m ($2.1m) Forbidden Fruit (Kielletty hedelmä), penned by Aleksi Bardy who will also produce for Helsinki-filmi. The film follows two girls from religious families coming close to marrying age. Sandrew Metronome Finland will release late 2008-early 2009.

Heikki Kujanpää's feature debut, the $2m (Euros 1.3m) Falling Angels (Putoavia enkeleitä), is the story of Helena, the daughter of two famous writers, who suffers a nervous breakdown. Sami Parkkinen and Heikki Huttu-Hiltunen wrote the original screenplay, Tero Kaukomaa will produce for Blind Spot Pictures, and Sandrew Metronome Finland will distribute.

Producer Tom Carpela and Filmkompaniet Alpha are backing Moomins and Midsummer Madness (Muumi ja vaarallinen juhannus), a fully-animated feature directed by Maria Lindberg about the latest events in the Moomin Valley, as told by Iivo Baric and Minna Karvonen. FS Film will cater for the April 18 première.