'Paha Maa' ('Frozen Land')

Back in the early 1990s, as Finnish director Aku Louhimies read Russian author Leo Tolstoy's 'The Forged Coupon', he immediately thought "it would make a great film, with multiple plots, which would not only portray contemporary Finland, but also address universal issues." (At the time he did not know that French director Robert Bresson ('L'Argent'/'Money'), German director Berthold Viertel ('Die Abenteuer eines Zehnmarkscheines') and most recently US director Mimi Leder ('Pay it Forward') had already had - or would later have - the same idea to use the story).

In Louhimies' 'Frozen Land' an unemployed teacher of literature has turned to the bottle and begins unloading his unhappiness on his son.

On New Year's Eve, high on drugs, the son, Niko, makes a counterfeit Euro 500 note to buy a new stereo, since his father has sold the old one to get money for alcohol.

The forged note continues its journey to create further misery.

With an episodic structure, and compared to the films of US directors Robert Altman and Paul Thomas Anderson, 'Frozen Land' contains several stories, where the lives of different people intertwine and influence each other.

Niko, for example, is also the best friend of Tuomas and Elina - Tuomas is a computer hacker pursued by the police for breaking into an information network.

After Louhimies' third feature was released early 2005, it went straight to the top of the local charts, leaving several Hollywood productions behind.

Now, as a Buena Vista International Finland release, it has taken more than 120,000 admissions. And at the 28th Gothenburg International Film Festival it bagged no less than four awards.

"When I film I always use at least two cameras, and I work very quickly, giving the actors the space to spontaneously react to each other.

I want them to talk and behave like everybody else in real life. Naturally the screenplay is the basis of the film, but many scenes are changed here and now on the set," said Louhimies.

"This could be one of the reasons why the film has been a success with audiences. Although many of the subjects it deals with are quite heavy, the actors approach and present them with a certain lightness, which makes them easier to comprehend," the director concluded.

Director: Aku Louhimies

Voted Finnish Director of the Year 2004, Aku Louhimies gained professional skills and experience as a director for television - he made such series as 'Tähtitehdas' ('Star Factory'/Channel Four Finland), 'Sydänten akatemia' ('The Academy of Hearts'/MTV3), 'Isänmaan toivot' ('The Hopes of the Fatherland'/TV4) and 'Kotikatu' ('Home Street'/YLE1).

He has also directed a TV-film on the author Pentti Saarikoski, called 'Time-Out' ('Elämä on näytelmä: Jatkoaika'), as well as the award-winning series, 'Irtiottoja' ('Fragments').

His first two features, 'Levottomat' ('Restless'/2000) 'Kuutamolla' ('Lovers and Leavers'/2002), both became local blockbusters.

Scriptwriters: Paavo Westerlund

An actor since 1980s, Paavo Westerberg became a scriptwriter in 2003.

He was signed for a television series, but during the pre-production, the cast binned the original screenplay, and started a major re-write, under his guidance.

Aku Louhimies, who directed, was so impressed he trusted him to pen ''Frozen Land'.

Producer: Markus Selin

"Essentially it is an instinct's game, what else can I say," explained Finnish producer Markus Selin, of Solar Films.

"I like strong stories - they could be tough to watch, but they must always end with a gleam of hope. I also want the best actors to play in them - and large audiences to see them, obviously." A regular on the Finnish charts, Selin started in film production, when he and Renny Harlin made 'Born American' in the mid-1980s.

Since then almost three million Finns have seen his films (Aleksi Mäkelä's 'Pahat pojat'/'Bad Boys - A True Story' alone took 615,000 admissions in 2003).

Five times he has won for Most Popular Finnish Film of the Year, but his film has also bagged nine Jussis, the local Oscars. Today his outfit targets 60% of its productions for television.


Aku Louhimies


Paavo Westerberg


Markus Selin, Solar Films

Principal cast:

Jasper Pääkkönen, Mikko Leppilampi, Sulevi Peltola, Petteri Summanen, Mikko Kouki, Samuli Edelmann

Local distributor:

Buena Vista International Finland.

International sales:

Birch Tree Entertainment