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Biopic about Olavi Virta will be released in Finland

A biopic about the ‘king of Finnish tango’, Olavi Virta, is set to be produced, with Timo Koivusalo directing.

Olavia Virta (1915-1972) was a Finnish singer who recorded almost 600 songs between the years 1939 and 1966, many of which are classics of Finnish popular music. Some of his most famous songs are Punatukkaiselle tytölleni (For my red haired girl)Ennen kuolemaa (Before death) (Avant de mourir) and Täysikuu (Full moon), while standouts from his other popular music are Poika varjoisalta kujalta (Boy from a shady alley) (Guaglione), Hopeinen kuu, (Silver moon, Guarda Che Luna; video[3])Eva and Kultainen nuoruus (The golden youth)

Virta’s career was cut short by a scandalous arrest for drunken driving in 1962, after which the press mockingly called him ‘The Singing Meatball’. Ten years later he succumbed to alcoholism, living his final years in poverty. 

While the film will cover an extensive period of Virta’s life, the majority of the film will focus on his younger years, before his career was cut short by alcoholism. The film was described by director Timo Koivusalo as ‘melancholic’. The Singer will be shot in a retro style.

Lauri Tilkanen will star as the young Virta, with Raimo Gronberg as the older incarnation. 

“I just find it interesting to dive into someone’s life,” explains the director, who also composed the scores for some of his films. “Music is a time machine that leads us to different places and times. It carries our memories, feelings, hopes and fears, and brings them back instantly if need be. But it’s very important to understand that Olavi and all of these other artists weren’t just entertainers; they brought light to the people who survived the war and gave them hope for something better. Different times need different heroes, and their music reflected what was going on in our country.”

Technical Information
The film is supported by the Finnish Film Foundation and produced by director Timo Koivusalo and his Pori-based production company Artista Filmi. The Walt Disney Company Nordic will distribute the film, and the Finnish premiere is scheduled for October 2018. 

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.