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Directors

Sharing our filmmakers’ passion, we also wanted to share their thoughts and influences, to see into their world and better understand their work. With this notebook, explore their favorite places with them and learn more about their influences.

Directors
Reetta Aalto
Levan Akin
Tine Alavi
Lionel Baier
Jean-Stéphane Bron
Ilker Çatak
Alice Diop
Camille Ducellier
Zeina Durra
Alli Haapasalo
Ulla Heikkilä
Heather Kessinger
Juho Kuosmanen
Fanny Liatard
Ursula Meier
Frédéric Mermoud
Inari Niemi
Anna Paavilainen
Michaela Pavlatova
Shirel Peleg
Aude Pépin
Sofía Quirós Ubeda
Kirsikka Saari
Aino Suni
Miia Tervo
Samuel Theis
Elli Toivoniemi
Jenni Toivoniemi
Jérémy Trouilh
C.B.Yi
Countries
Argentina
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Egypt
England
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Israel
Slovakia
Sweden
USA

Reetta Aalto

Reetta Aalto​ is a film director and screenwriter of both fiction and documentary films. Her works as a screenwriter and​ director include the documentary film ​Grey Violet​ – ​Odd One Out​ (2017), ​which premiered at the Hot Docs Film Festival, and the award-winning internet-hit animation ​Pussy for Beginners​ (2015). As a director, she is also known for the Prix Europa nominated miniseries ​Paradise ​(2010) as well as the award-winning comedic short films ​Girls’ Night (​2008) and ​The Inspection​ (2015). Her most recent directorial work is the short film ​Fingerling​ (2018) premiered at the 2018 Helsinki International Film Festival.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

Little Snow Animal by Miia Tervo

Golden Age by Maija Blåfield

Two Bodies On A Beach by Anna Paavilainen

Elsa by Marja Pensala

No Time For Toes by Kari Pieskä

Levan Akin

Levan Akin is a Swedish born filmmaker and his work often plays on class and gender. He most recently directed THE CIRCLE (2015 world premiere at the Berlin film festival) based on the bestselling YA book. He has also directed the feature film CERTAIN PEOPLE which received its international premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews. He has also directed several TV- series for SVT Drama most notably REAL HUMANS. Currently Levan Akin is writing and directing a new TV-series for SVT titled DOUGH set to premiere in the spring of 2021.

And Then We Danced (2019) - The Circle (2015) - Certain People (2012)
Countries

Sweden

Georgia

Films influences :

A Streetcar Named Desire by Elia Kazan

Dolores Claiborne by Taylor Hackford

Yol by Yilmaz Guney

Aliens by James Cameron

The Color of Pomegranates by Sergei Paradjanov

Tine Alavi

Tine Alavi ​is a director and screenwriter based in Stockholm, Sweden. She has written and directed multiple documentaries and short films including the short film ​Aliki ​(2015).​ ​Alavi has a degree in directing and production from Vancouver Film School and a bachelor in film studies from Gothenburg University, from where​ she​ continued to the masters program at Stockholm University. She is currently working on a short film together with Fembot Production written and directed by her.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Films influences :

A Separation by Asghar Farhadi

Offside by Jafar Panahi

Caramel by Nadine Labaki

Eat, Sleep And Die by Gabriela Pichler

The Celebration by Thomas Vinterberg

Lionel Baier

Born in Lausanne in 1975 in a Swiss family of Polish origins, Lionel Baier programs et co-manages the Rex Cinema of Aubonne since 1992, before studing humanities at the University of Lausanne (1995-1999). Following the documentary THE PASTOR's and THE PARADE (OUR HISTORY), he directs his first feature film in 2004, STUPID BOY. His next films are Stealth– first episode of a tetralogy that continues with LONGWAVE, then ANOTHER MANOR VANITY in a filmography of fictions and documentaries in several formats. Director of the Film department at the ECAL (Art school of Lausanne) since 2002, he co-founds Bande à part Films in 2009 and is the vice-president the Swiss Cinemathèque’s board of administration. Lionel also produced the four films of SHOCK WAVES, and THE VENERABLE W. (directed by Barbet Schroeder), presented in Cannes in 2017.

Shock Waves - First Name : Mathieu (2018) - Vanity (2015) - Longwave (2013) - Bon Vent Claude Goretta (2011) - Toulouse (2011) - Low Cost (Claude Jutra) (2010) - Un Autre Homme (2008) - Comme Des Voleurs (2006) - Stupid Boy (2004) - The Parade (Our History) (2002) - The Pastor (2000)

Jean-Stéphane Bron

Born in Lausanne in 1969, Jean-Stéphane Bron is a documentarian. His movies received several distinctions in Europe and in the US, like KNOWN TO OUR DEPARTMENTS (1997), about a scandal of files compiled by Swiss Federal Police. CORN IN PARLIAMENT (2003), one of the biggest success of Swiss film, or THE BLOCHER EXPERIENCE, portrait of the right-wing populist leader Christophe Blocher, which stirred up controversy. WITH CLEVELAND VERSUS WALL STREET (2010), about the subprimes crisis, which is presented in Cannes and nominated for a Cesar, he gains international recognition and receives for the second time the Quartz of Best documentary at the Swiss Film Award. His last movie, THE PARIS OPERA (2017), about Paris Opera’s backstage, is widely distributed around the world.

Shock Waves : The Valley (2018) - The Paris Opera (2017) - The Blocher Experience (2013) - Cleveland Versus Wall Street (2010) - My Brother Is Getting Married (2006) - Corn in Parliament (2003) - The Way I Look at You (1999) - Known to Our Departments (1997)

Ilker Çatak

Stambul Garden (2020)
Countries

Germany

Films Influences :

Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade

Elephant by Gus Van Sant

Uzak by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days by Christian Mungiu

Taste of Cherry by Abbas Kiarostami

Alice Diop

Nous (2020) - Océan (2019) - Vers La Tendresse (2016) - La Permanence (2016) - La Mort De Danton (2011) - Les Sénégalaises et La Sénégauloise (2007) - La Tour Du Monde (2006) - Clichy Pour l'Exemple (2006)
Countries

France

Camille Ducellier

Writer, director and artist Camille Ducellier works on a hybrid art between art and cinema. Feminist queer, she knows very well the gender issues. She studied them through her friends but also on an academic level. The form of her artwork can vary – documentary, interactive art, sound installation – but the spell remains the same : dreaming the dark, unveiling the body, binding the spiritual and the political.

Gender Derby (2018)

Zeina Durra

Zeina Durra received her BA in Oriental Studies from Oxford University and MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Programme. Her directorial debut, The Imperialists Are Still Alive! premiered in US Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2010. British born of Bosnian-Palestinian-Jordanian-Lebanese descent, Zeina spent over a decade living in New York, and after making her first film, she took some time off to have a family. She is now back having just shot her next feature, Luxor, staring Andrea Riseborough which will premiere in World Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2020. Zeina is now based out of London, and is currently developing various film projects.

Luxor (2020) - The Imperialists Are Still Alive! (2010)
Countries

England

Egypt

Films influences :

The Passenger by Michelangelo Antonioni

Don’t Look Now by Nicholas Rogue

Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown by Pedro Almodóvar

The Rules of The Game by Jean Renoir

Cria Cuervos by Carlos Saura

Alli Haapasalo

Director and writer ​Alli Haapasalo​ graduated from Aalto University’s School of Motion Picture, Television and Production Design with a 30-minute comedy ​The Girl Who Had No Problems (2003),​ which traveled well internationally. Wanting to continue studying film abroad in a vibrant film industry, Haapasalo moved to New York and began in the graduate program of New York University’s film school at Tisch School of the Arts. During ten years in New York, she wrote and directed many short films and developed several features. It was Haapasalo’s 60-minute thesis film ​On Thin Ice (2009)​, that got notice at festivals in the United States as well as Europe. This story of a lonely mercenary looking for a friend won several awards, and was nominated for Prix Europa in 2012. Haapasalo returned to Finland to make her feature debut, ​Love and Fury (2016),​ which was released in Finland in 2016 to rave reviews. Shortly after, her first feature length documentary ​P.O.Box 347 (2017)​ came out and garnered a large number of viewers on the Finnish National Broadcasting Company. In 2019 Haapasalo released ​television show ​Shadow Lines​, a cold war era political drama she co-directed with ​A.J. Annila​. ​Alli Haapasalo holds a Master of Fine Arts from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (2009), as well as a Bachelor of Arts from Aalto University’s School of Motion Picture, Television and Production Design (2003).

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

A Separation by Asghar Farhadi

Amour by Michael Haneke

Spotlight by Thomas McCarthy

Call Me By Your Name by Luca Guadagnino

BPM (Beat Per Minute) by Robin Campillo

Ulla Heikkilä

Ulla Heikkilä ​is a Helsinki-based film director and screenwriter whose first feature film ​Eden will premiere in 2020. Heikkilä ​Heikkilä studied film directing in Aalto University in Helsinki, where she graduated with a M.F.A​. ​Heikkilä's short films​ Golgotha​ (2016) and​ #Barewithme (2017) have screened at the Aspen, Palm Springs, Angers and Tampere film festivals, among many others.​ Heikkilä has also directed and written for television. In addition to her work in film and tv, Heikkilä has also written and directed plays and music videos. Heikkilä has acted as the vice-chairman of the Association of Finnish Film Directors SELO.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

Miami by Zaida Bergroth

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants by Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää

Gods of Molenbeek by Reetta Huhtanen

Flame Top by Pirjo Honkasalo and Pekka Lehto

Inspector Palmu’s Error by Matti Kassila

Heather Kessinger

The Most Fearless (2020)
Countries

USA

Films influences :

Breaking the Waves by Lars Von Trier

Burden of Dreams/Les Blank

When We Were Kings by Leon Gast

Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders

L’année Dernière à Marienbad by Alain Resnais

Juho Kuosmanen

Juho Kuosmanen (b. 1979) is Helsinki based filmmaker. He graduated from ELO Heslinki Film School of Aalto University in 2014. His first two films have won a prize in Cannes Film Festival. THE PAINTED SELLERS (2010) won the 1st prize in Cannes Cinefondation and The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (2016) won The Prix un Certain Regard. Besides making award-winning films, he has directed avant-garde opera and theater. He also makes silent short films with live music and foleys. He is the co-founder and artistic director of a small film festival in his birth town Kokkola.

Compartment n°6 (2021) - The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (2016) - The Painting Sellers (2010)
Countries

Finland

Fanny Liatard

Gagarine (2020)
Countries

France

Films influences :

Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders

Mauvais Sang by Leos Carax

Happy As Lazzaro by Alba Rohrwacher

Nobody Knows by Hirokazu Kore-eda

We All Loved Each Other So Much by Ettore Scola

Ursula Meier

Swiss and French, Ursula Meier studied filmmaking in Belgium. Her short films’ and documentaries’ successes allowed her to get worldwide recognition. She was chosen to be part of Arte’s collection of TV movies MASCULIN/FEMININ and directed in 2002 STRONG SHOULDERS which was met with great acclaim. In 2008, her movie HOME has been premiered at the Cannes Film Festival Critics' Week and received several awards and distinctions, including three Césars’ nominations. SISTER received a Silver Bear-Special Award at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival, was nominated for the Independant Spirit Awards and Kacey Mottet Klein for Best Male Newcomer’s César. This film, as HOME, was rewarded of three Quartz at the Swiss Film Awards and represented Switzerland for the Oscar race. In 2014, she takes part of the omnibus film BRIDGES OF SARAJEVO presented in Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival.

Shock Waves : Diary Of My Mind (2018) - Bridges of Sarajevo (2014) - Sister (2012) - Home (2008) - About Pinget (2004) - To the Lost Body (1994)

Frédéric Mermoud

Born in 1969 in Sion, Frédéric Mermoud directed noted short films like THE STAIRCASE, awarded Best short film at the Swiss Film Award, and RACHEL nominated for a Cesar. In 2009, his first feature film, THE COMPLICE, is presented in Locarno Film Festival and receives Best Script at the Swiss Film Award. In 2012, he directs four episodes (5-8) of Canal+ series THE RETURNED, awarded of an International Emmy Award. He gets back to swiss cinema by directing MOKA (2016) with Emmanuelle Devos and Nathalie Baye, which has a big critical an commercial success. He focuses then on thriller and directs six episodes of the Canal+ SPIRAL series. He also directed the writing and production of around 40 ECAL (Art school of Lausanne) students.

Shock Waves - Sirius (2018) - Moka (2016) - The Complice (2009)

Inari Niemi

Inari Niemi​ is a film director and screenwriter. Her most well-known feature films are Summertime​ (2014) and ​Wonderland​ (2017). She also directed several short films and a feature length documentary ​Robin - The Movie​ (2012). Her work aims to give a voice to young women. She studied in Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Science, graduating in 2010 and holds a BA in film directing.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

Spring Breakers by Harmony Korine

The Graduate by Mike Nichols

Lost In Translation by Sofia Coppola

Rust And Bone by Jacques Audiard

The Squid And The Whale by Noah Baumbach

Anna Paavilainen

Anna Paavilainen​ is a Finnish film director, screenwriter and actor. She graduated in 2006 from the Helsinki Theatre Academy and acted in the Finnish National Theatre from 2004 to 2012. While studying directing and screenwriting in Stockholm, Sweden, Paavilainen wrote the monologue ​Play Rape​ about the representations and normalisation of rape scenes on the theatre stage. ​Play Rape​ had its premiere in 2014 at the Pop Up Art House in Helsinki. Paavilainen has performed the highly acclaimed monologue in Finnish, Swedish and English. In 2016, Paavilainen co-directed the play ​Sinuus​ with ​Marja Salo​, which dealt with subjects such as appearance pressure and the merciful gaze. Short film ​Two Bodies on a Beach​ (co-written with ​Laura Birn​, 2019), received the International Competition’s Special Mention at Tampere Film Festival in 2019. Besides her work on and for the theater stage, Paavilainen has also acted in many Finnish films and television shows.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

The Collector by  Auli Mantila

Void by Aleksi Salmenperä

Fire-Eater by Pirjo Honkasalo

The Match Factory Girl by Aki Kaurismäki

Gods of Molenbeek by Reetta Huhtanen

Michaela Pavlatova

Michaela Pavlátová is an animation director from the Czech Republic. Her films have received numerous awards at international film festivals, including an Oscar nomination for WORDS, WORDS, WORDS (Reci, reci, reci). FILM REPETE has also won a series of awards including the Grand Prix at the International Animation Festival Hiroshima and Golden Bear in Berlin. Her last film TRAM premiered in the Director's Fortnight in Cannes and won Annecy Cristal in 2012. Since 2016 she is the head of the Animation Department at FAMU, Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

My Sunny Maad (2021) - Night Owls (2008) - Faithless Games (2003) - Prague Stories (1999)
Countries

Czech Republic

Slovakia

France

Shirel Peleg

Shirel Peleg was born in 1985 in Venezuela and raised in Israel. She was graduated in 2010 with a BFA in film and television from the Sapir College and majored in production and directing. After her graduation, she worked as a newsdesk producer at the Israeli news company Channel 2 and for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. In 2012, Shirel immigrated with her partner to Germany where she learned the language in no time to enroll at the screenwriting program at the renowned Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Her latest directing work WE’RE BACK AGAIN has been selected for German Film’s talent showcase and THE NEXT GENERATION SHORT TIGER was presented during the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Kiss Me Before It Blows Up (2019)
Countries

Israel

Germany

Films influences :

It Happened One night by Frank Capra

To Be or Not To Be by Ernst Lubitsch

The Apartment by Billy Wilder

Angst Essen Seele Auf by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Fried Green Tomatoes by Jon Avnet

Aude Pépin

À La Vie (2021)
Countries

France

Sofía Quirós Ubeda

Sofía was born in 1989 and studied Sound and Image Design at the University of Buenos Aires. Since her first short films, Sofía has focused on working with non-actors and actresses, creating films that explore their characters intimate worlds with a poetic vision that highlights atmosphere and emotion. In 2016, her short film SELVA premiered at La Semaine de la Critique of the Cannes Film Festival 2017. Since then, it went to screen in more than 40 cities around the world gathering awards like the TV5 Prize in Biarritz and the ‘Women in Film and TV Award’ given by the Guanajuato IFF. Her first feature film CENIZA NEGRA (LAND OF ASHES) was filmed in the Costa Rican and explores topics such as mourning and the end of childhood. Its premiere will be held at the 58th Semaine de la Critique in 2019.

Land Of Ashes (2019) - Selva (2017)
Countries

Costa Rica

Argentina

Films influences :

Amour by Michael Haneke

Medea by Alexandra Latishev

El Sonido De Las Cosas by Ariel Escalante

Lazzaro Felice by Alice Rohrwacher

Sans Soleil by Chris Marker

El Silencio Es Un Cuerpo Que Cae by Agustina Comedi

Cavalo Dinheiro by Pedro Costa

La ciénaga by Lucrecia Martel

Jauja by Lisandro Alonso

Summer 1993 by Carla Simón

Kirsikka Saari

Kirsikka Saari​ is a screenwriter and director based in Helsinki, Finland. Her most celebrated works as a screenwriter include the Academy Award nominated short film ​Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?​ (2012) and the feature film ​Stupid Young Heart​ (2018), that had its world premiere in Toronto International Film Festival and won the Crystal Bear in the Generation 14plus category in the Berlinale Film Festival the following year.​ ​Her latest work as a director includes the short fictions ​Super Comfort ​(2018) and ​After the Reunion (​2016), that was chosen for the Future Frames at the Karlovy Vary IFF and Palm Springs Shortfest in 2017 and received a Jury's Special Mention at the Filmschoolfest Münich. She has written the feature films​ Korso ​(2014) and children’s film ​Sihja - Fly With Me​ (2020) in collaboration with​ Jenni Toivoniemi​. Saari has also written for television, theatre and published a novel.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

American Honey by Andrea Arnold

Secrets and Lies by Mike Leigh

A Prophet by Jacques Audiard

Involuntary by Ruben Östlund

L’Enfant by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Aino Suni

Aino Suni ​is a film director and screenwriter based in Helsinki, who directs both fictional and documentary films. Suni has obtained a master’s degree in screenwriting from the University of Salford, UK in 2014. Suni’s short films ​Turnaround​ (2015) and​ Wolf Carver (​2012) have been chosen for several international film festivals, including Sarajevo Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. Suni’s feature-length documentary ​Never Again ​(2018) premiered at the Helsinki International Film Festival in sold out screenings and the film was chosen for the national competition at the Tampere Film Festival. Besides film, Suni also works in the fields of music videos and photography. Suni bases her work on values like respecting and listening to others. In her spare time, she enjoys petting cats and going nuts for dancing.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

The Night by Michelangelo Antonioni

The Lovers on the Bridge by Leos Carax

Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola

Holiday by Isabella Eklöf

Enter the Void by Gaspar Noé

Miia Tervo

The awarded director​ Miia Tervo​ grew up in Lapland, Finland. Her short films ​The Seal (2006), ​The Little Snow Animal (​2009),​ ​Santra and the Talking Trees (​2013), ​Clumsy Little Acts of Tenderness​ (201​5) circulated around the world’s festivals su​ch as Idfa and ​The Little Snow Animal​ got an EFA nomination among other prices. Tervo‘s debut fiction feature Aurora (​2019) was a critical success. It premiered as an opening film of Gothenburg Film Festival and has been selected to SXSW South by Southwest and is currently touring festivals. In addition to Finland, ​Aurora (2019) ​ is having its theatrical release for example in Estonia and in Australia and is distributed by Level K.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

Orlando by Sally Potter

Tony Erdmann by Maren Ade

Moonlight by Barry Jenkins

Mirror by Andrei Tarkovsky

Lady Bird by Greta Gerwig

Samuel Theis

Petite Nature (2020) - Party Girl (2014)
Countries

France

Elli Toivoniemi

Elli Toivoniemi ​is an award-winning producer-director from production company Tuffi Films based in Helsinki, Finland. She is a producer and co-founder-owner of the company, and behind acclaimed films like the Academy Award nominated short fiction ​Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?​ (2012). Her filmography as a producer includes over 20 films in all forms and lengths. Films produced by her have been awarded at festivals for instance at Sundance and Chicago, latest of which was ​Stupid Young Heart​ (2018) that won the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale Film Festival. Her first short fiction film as director, ​Role​, had its world premiere in Locarno International Film Festival in 2014, and her documentary film director debut ​Once I Was a Dragonfly​ won the Critics Choice Award in Docpoint film festival in January 2017. Games People Play​, a feature film produced by Toivoniemi, will premiere in 2020.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade

The Reunion by Anna Odell

Her by Spike Jonze

Marriage Story by Noah Baumbach

Jenni Toivoniemi

Jenni Toivoniemi​ is a writer-director. Toivoniemi’s debut as a director, short comedy ​The Date ​(2012)​,​ won several awards including International Short Fiction Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival and a Special Mention at the Berlinale Generation 14+ in 2013. She has directed several short films, of which ​The Committee ​(2016), written and directed together with the Norwegian ​Gunhild Enger​, premiered in Locarno 2016 and ​The Door (2017) was selected for the national competition of the Tampere Film Festival in 2017. Toivoniemi has also written theatre plays, an audio play and a feature film ​Korso​ (2014) together with ​Kirsikka Saari. ​Their latest collaboration, children’s film ​Sihja - Fly With Me, will premiere in 2020, as well as her feature film ​Games People Play​.

Force Of Habit (2020)
Countries

Finland

Films influences :

Three Rooms of Melancholy by Pirjo Honkasalo

Shadows in Paradise by Aki Kaurismäki

The Good Son by Zaida Bergroth

The Snow Queen by Päivi Hartzell

The Collector by Auli Mantila

Jérémy Trouilh

Gagarine (2020)
Countries

France

Films influences :

Nobody Knows by Hirokazu Kore-eda

Happy As Lazzaro by Alba Rohrwacher

Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Steven Spielberg

The Return by Andrey Zvyagintsev

Mauvais Sang by Leos Carax

C.B.Yi

Chen Bo was born in the People's Republic of China. He studied Sinology at the University of Vienna, Directing at the Vienna Film Academy - Michael Haneke, University of Music and Performing Arts, Photography at the Film Academy Vienna - Christian Berger, University of Music and Performing Arts and at the Beijing Film Academy (foreign year 2003-2004).

Moneyboys (2020) - Emei, Viewed From A Galloping Horse (2008)