Variety: “Finnish Director Miia Tervo Brings Out Fresh New Voice With ‘Aurora’”

Film alumna Miia Tervo interviewed in Variety by Elsa Keslassy February 1, 2019 2:33AM PT

Finnish Director Miia Tervo Brings Out Fresh New Voice With ‘Aurora’

With “Aurora,” a female-centric romantic comedy with social undertones, Miia Tervo has emerged as one of Finland’s most promising and daring young directors.

While attending the Goteborg Film Festival, where “Aurora” is nominated for three awards, Tervo spoke to Variety about being one of Finland’s very few women directors and her desire to address young women’s substance abuse, a topic which has never been addressed in Finland.

The director pointed out that Finland had a conservative society, in contrast with other Scandinavian countries like Sweden or Denmark which are highly progressive. “I’ve never seen in a Finnish film with a young and single woman in a leading role who is misbehaving and has flaws. There is a very conservative portrayal of women in Finnish films,” added Tervo.

Tervo said she watched a flurry of romantic comedies and female-centric films, including “When Harry Meets Sally,” “It Happened One Night,” as well as “Bridesmaids” and “Trainwreck,” prior and during the writing of “Aurora.” She said “Toni Erdmann” was big inspiration for the unconventional and raw study of a modern, goofy woman.

“The main thing for me what to get the audience to feel empathy and tenderness towards Aurora, the main character, who is flawed and goofy but so authentic that people would find commonalities,” explained Tervo.

Although the film addresses social and political issues as it deals with a woman financially struggling in the Arctic ghetto, and a refugee seeking asylum, Tervo said she didn’t want to make a political statement through “Aurora.”

“The film isn’t about the whole political backdrop; it’s really about the encounter between these two characters who come from different worlds and are brought together by the forces of nature,” said Tervo.

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Pitching animation in Cartoon Forum 2018

I felt so privileged to attend the 29th Cartoon Forum in Toulouse France this September. Cartoon Forum is one of the largest international pitching forums in Europe for animated TV projects. Pitching in Cartoon Forum means that you present your animation project in front of an auditorium full of producers, broadcasters and investors in 20 minutes or less, to find financing for the project.

Every year they choose one country to be presented in the spotlight. This year it was the “happiest nation of the world”: Finland. Thanks to Cartoon Forum and Finnanimation thirteen Finnish animation students were invited to participate in the couching programme. I got the chance to represent Turku University of Applied Sciences among with two of my classmates Linda and Ilari and two alumnus Hanne and Janna-Riina.

Attending the coaching programme meant that on our first day in Toulouse there were lectures by Anttu the co-founder of Gigglebug Entertainment and Petteri the CEO of Anima – about pitching and producing animation. They were informative introduction to the event but the biggest lesson came from attending the pitching sessions non-stop for the three following days.

Most of the productions were in early stages but to be selected to pitch at the Cartoon Forum means that you have at least a trailer’s much ready. The production budgets varied from about 800 000 euros to 8 million euros.

Approximately 85% of the projects had a leading female character. I noticed also that lot of the projects were based on an older idea: either a children book or even a gif sensation from Instagram. Also it’s not enough to have “only” a TV project anymore – there’s often plans to stream the project in YouTube or create games, AR and VR around the idea.

When your pitching for animation you need to have stunning visuals to pack up your presentation. I loved seeing the visual development – from the rough sketches to the highly rendered concept art. Cool handouts were always a happy surprise – I especially fell in love with my Frida Kahlo bag for the Little People Big Dreams –project.

In total I saw 31 pitching sessions. Some of my favourites were Laïdak Films’ Mom is pouring rain. It was a Christmas special, drawn 2D animation, which tells a story with depth about a girl whose mom is hospitalised for depression. Another favourite was Rabbit from a Tin Hat by Origin Tales studio in Serbia. After seeing multiple super cute (but little repetitive) pre-school projects it was always a relief to see something aimed for adults instead.

At nights Cartoon Forum organised dinner events in beautiful venues. Good food and great wine. First I was terrified about the thought of mingling. It’s just something we are not taught in Finland: how to start conversation with strangers. But then I remembered Andy J. Pizza’s word from his podcast the Creative Pep Talk: “Don’t mingle. Make friends.”

So that I did. I got to know producers, investors, broadcasters, journalists around the world and other participants of the couching programme from Finland and France. New best friends were made.

The week in Toulouse was mind-bobbling. I was so inspired that it was hard for me to get any sleep at nights. Also congratulations for YLE for winning the year’s Broadcaster of the Year award.
Thank you for reading,

P.S. If you want to read the longer version of this blog post I invite you to my blog
2nd P.S. Thank you Cartoon Forum and Finnanimation for the experience and the photographs.

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Ami Lindholm´s Mother and Milk in production

What happens when a baby is born? What if there is no milk? Or just a drop too much?

Mother and Milk is an animated short film which describes the mental process of becoming a parent – in a scenery of a catastrophe film. When the baby is born the fresh mother has to give up the life she knew. A flood of breast milk covers everything – her home, work, friends, relationship and a good night sleep. The life she knew doesn’t exist any more. There’s just the mother and the baby – in an ocean of breast milk.



Animation director Ami Lindholm welcomes you to follow the process of creating the animated short film Mother and Milk.

During 2017 we made the development at Pyjama Films. Now everything is ready for animation! Producing company is now Paperihattu/coop Paperhat and here you can watch the trailer.

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Heta Jäälinoja jury member in Nordisk Panorama

Heta Jäälinoja was awarded last year 2017 in Nordisk Panorama film festival with a Best New Nordic Voice Award for her animated film Penelope.  Nordisk Panorama is an annual festival for nordic documentaries and short films and it´s happening  in Malmö, Sweden.

This year Heta was was chosen as a one member of the jury to choose the winner of the Best Nordic Short Film.

Here´s the interwiew of Heta in Good Morning Sweden, Swedish radio´s program for finnish speaking audience. In this interwiew Heta tells about festival jury´s work, nordic films and about her own work in film branch.

Heta Jäälinoja was one of the three jury members choosing Best Nordic Short Film in this year’s Nordisk Panorama, Malmö! A week ago, on very early morning she talked in Sverigesradio about this experience (in Finnish).

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Turku Animated Film Festival TAFF 29.8.-2.9.2108

Turku Animated Film Festival TAFF is here again! Third edition of the festival starts August 29th. and it´s five days of films, discussions, nice people and parties in a beautiful area of an old factory called Manilla by the river Aura.

Program is impressive with many national and international guests artists. Feature film screenings, children programs, competition, masterclasses, music etc.

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