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Shadow of harassment hangs over Finland's 2017 film awards

The Finnish film industry gathered to recognise the past year's accomplishments Friday in a ceremony deeply coloured by accusations of a leading film director using questionable methods.

Eero Aho (vas.) vastaanotti parhaan miespääosan Jussi-palkinnon elokuvasta Tuntematon sotilas ja Krista Kosonen parhaan naispääosan Jussi-palkinnon elokuvasta Miami Jussi-gaalassa.
Best male actor Eero Aho and best female actor Krista Kosonen Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

The annual Jussi Awards are Finland's premier film industry event, where a closed vote from the peer association Filmiaura awards directors, actors, and other filmmakers with a gypsum statute for their achievements.

This year's ceremony was touched by recent accusations from eight prominent female actors, who say that award-winning director Aku Louhimies subjected them to demeaning tactics and abuse in their work. Almost all of the award presenters that took the stage on Friday evening made a reference to the episode, and showed their support for the women who made the charges and the #MeToo movement in general.

Louhimies' latest film, a remake of this Finnish war epic "Tuntematon Sotilas (The Unknown Soldier)", broke box office records last year, with over one million tickets sold. Even so, the film lost in the best picture and best director categories to AJ Annila's historical film "Ikitie (The Eternal Road)".

Lead actor Eero Aho from the remake won best male actor, however, and Krista Kosonen won best female actor for her role in the film "Miami".

"Unknown Soldier" wins audience favourite

"The Unknown Soldier" did win the Jussi award for audience favourite. Upon accepting the award, director Louhimies gave a speech apologizing for his behavior and promising to mend his ways.

"I have pushed things to the limit and beyond at times, and acted unwisely in how I wielded my power. I am seeking help and have received it," Louhimies said.

The director also had some words for his work colleagues on the film.

"I hope you will allow yourselves to celebrate our accomplishments. My mistakes are not your mistakes," he said.

Minister refuses to present award

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reported late on Friday that Minister of Culture Sampo Terho, who attended the ceremony, was originally intended to present the Jussi award for audience favourite. He told the paper that he refused to do it in light of the recent accusations.

"In my opinion, the reason is obvious. It is not right that the culture minister would convey the sort of message that this kind of behaviour is acceptable in film directing," he told IS.

Former programme director for the commercial broadcaster MTV Jorma Sairanen filled in for Terho and presented Louhimies with the award.

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