The Finnish director Zaida Bergroth, whose film Miami was a festival favourite around the world in 2017, has announced that her new film will be based on Maria Åkerblom.

Maria Åkerblom was a leader of a religious sect in the 1920s. The film will follow Maria Åkerblom has she leads members of her rleigious sect to Helsinki, where they house themselves in the beautiful Villa Toivola. At night, Maria falls into a trance and preaches her followers the message brought to her by an angel. One of Maria’s most dedicated followers is the passionately religious teen Salome. But what is hidden behind the magnetically intriguing Maria?

“Maria Åkerblom is a charismatic and controversial young woman who saw people’s fears and dreams, and knew how to take advantage of them. Maria and her frightening power over her followers are immensely interesting subjects for me. What makes a person trust a charismatic leader and give their life over to someone else?” Bergroth says in an article on the Finnish Film Foundation website. 

You can learn more about Maria Åkerblom on Wikipedia here. 

The script is written by Anna Viitala and Jan Forsström and the film will be shot in Finland and Estonia. Daniel Kuitunen and Kaisla Viitala from Komeetta are producing.

Shooting will start in the summer and the release date is set for 2019. This will be Bergroth’s fourth feature film.