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Finnish National Prize honours creators of rock 'n' roll, film and fashion

This year's Finnish National Prize went to a rock star, a fashion designer, a film director and others for their contributions to cultural life in Finland.

Remu Aaltonen kävelee vastaanottamaan Suomi-palkintoa musta kävelykeppi oikeassa kädessään.
Henry "Remu" Aaltonen, the drummer and vocalist of the 1970s band Hurriganes, was one of 2018's recipients of the Finnish National Prize for cultural contributions. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

The Finnish National Prize, an annual cultural award from the Ministry of Education and Culture, went to Henry "Remu" Aaltonen, the drummer and vocalist of the 1970s band Hurriganes; the fashion designer behind Ivana Helsinki, Paola Suhonen; and Academy Award nominated director Selma Vilhunen.

This year each of the prizes, which were handed out by culture minister Sampo Terho on Monday, include an award of 25,000 euros.

Other recipients of this year's prize include the Oulu-based design firm alt Architects, the non-profit hobby group Finnish Game Jam, poet Jyrki Kiiskinen and Helsinki's Koko Jazz Club.

Aaltonen, Suhonen and Vilhunen

The 70-year-old bald-headed rock star Aaltonen helped to found the rock band Hurriganes in 1971 in Helsinki. The group went on to enjoy more than a decade of success and popularity in Finland, Sweden and Estonia, releasing their music on the Love Records label. The band's name was intentionally misspelled and their music has been described as nostalgic roots-based rock 'n' roll which has become icons of the rock scene of the 70s and 80s. During its heyday, the band recorded several covers of popular 50s hits, but the group also wrote their own songs, including one of their most well-known, Get On. The track was recorded - and improvised - at the producer's request for an extra song at the last minute when the band was finishing up their second album in 1974.

Fashion designer Suhonen founded the clothing, art and film company Ivana Helsinki in 1998. By 2007 the company was the first Nordic firm ever to take part in the prestigious Paris fashion week. Suhonen has continued to design products and concepts around the world. The designer also ran into some controversy earlier this year when the charity group Plan International Finland ran a high-profile ad campaign featuring a pregnant 12 year-old Zambian girl posing in a line of maternity clothing design by Suhonen.

Director and screenwriter Vilhunen has made fiction and documentary films during a career that started nearly two decades ago. Her short film Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? was nominated for an Academy Award for best live action short film in 2013. Vilhunen has received awards for her other work as well, like 2008's documentary Pony Girls and the TV film Pietà in 2007 and was co-writer of the 2005 feature film Homesick. Her 2016 film Little Wing was one of Finland's most prominent films in the past few years.

This year's prizes were handed out on Monday in Helsinki and the recipients will be acknowledged at the Independence Day gala at the Presidential Palace on Thursday, 6 December.

The Finnish National Prize has been handed out annually since 1993.

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