Finnish Film Affair event illustrating diversity of the current crop of features from the country.

The Finnish Film Affair, the industry strand of the 26th Helsinki International Film Festival, has returned for a second year and is highlighting the diversity of features emerging from the country.

“In the past Finnish directors would tell local stories to local audiences; now they try to find their place in international cinema,” said Sara Norberg, executive director of HIFF and FFA.

“The Finnish Film Affair will illustrate this ‘movement’ and the current diversity of Finnish films.”

The three-day event, which wraps tomorrow, includes 250 film professionals, comprising sales agents, buyers, festival programmers and press. This figure includes 60 international representatives – up from 35 at last year’s inaugural event.

The programme includes 30 Finnish films, both recent and upcoming releases. It also features the presentation of 16 works-in-progress, of which eight will be pitched by the filmmakers, at the Finnish Film Foundation’s Kino K-13.

Attending sales companies include the Hanway Films (UK), Fortissimo Films (Netherlands), Celluloid Dreams and Wild Bunch (France), Deckert Distribution (Germany), First Hand Films (Switzerland),  TrustNordisk and LevelK (Denmark), Eyewell (Sweden), and The Yellow Affair (Finland).

Finnish Gala

In the main festival, HIFF’s Finnish Gala includes Dome Karukoski’s Heart of a Lion, following its premiere at Toronto, and Pirjo Honkasalo’s Concrete Night, also in Toronto.

The line-up also includes Finland’s candidate for the Best Foreign-Language Oscar, Ulrika Bengts’ The Disciple, and the two films the Finnish Film Foundation has supported for their Golden Globe campaigns, Aku Louhimies’ 8-Ball and Peter Franzén’s Above Dark Waters.

Representatives are in attendance from international festivals including Palm Springs, Tribeca-New York, Rotterdam, Locarno International, Business Square-Moscow, St Petersburg International Film Festival, CP Pix-Copenhagen and Black Nights-Tallinn.

Strong local performance

Finnish cinema is currently performing well in its home market. During the first six months of 2013, local productions accounted for 30% (1.2 million) of total attendance.

Johanna Vuoksenmaa’s divorce comedy 21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage topped 400,000 admissions, the first time a female director has crossed the landmark and one of only four Finnish movies have achieved that in the past 25 years.

Ville Suhonen and Kim Saarniluoto’s Tale of a Forest became the first documentary ever to exceed 80,000 admissions.