Estonia-set drama is based on Finnish author’s award-winning novel.

Finnish director Antti Jokinen, whose first film was UK/US produced The Resident with Hilary Swank and Christopher Lee in the leads, will start principal photography today for the screen adaptation of Finnish author Sofi Oksanen’s award-winning novel, Purge (Puhdistua) – a drama spanning over 50 years – on locations in Estonia.

Originally a play, Purge is set in Estonia from before the Stalinist deportations in 1949 until after the country’s independence in 1991. It follows two generations of women, intertwining the stories of Aliide, a villager, and Zara, a victim of human trafficking, linked together by deceit, desperation and fear.

Finnish actress Laura Birn plays Aliide, and Liisi Tandefelt takes over when she grows older - the roles of Zara are yet to be announced in a cast which also includes Amanda Pilke and Peter Franzén. Translated into 38 languages, Oksanen’s third novel received last year’s Nordic Council Literary Award after the local Finlandia and Runeberg Prizes. It also won the European Book Prize 2010.

Shooting in Estonia until December, Purge is realised by Finnish producer Markus Selin’s Solar Films, in co-production with Estonia’s Taska Film, and supported by the Finnish Film Foundation, the Estonian Film Foundation and the MEDIA programme.

A broadcast and film graduate from East Carolina University in the US, Jokinen is widely acclaimed for his music videos (Céline Dion, Wyclef Jean, Westlife). Nordisk Film Distribution will release his new film domestically in September 2012, while Denmark’s TrustNordisk handles international sales.