Finnish director Arto Halonen’s upcoming sports doping film A Patriotic Man has cast the infamous Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson (photo) and former Olympic Games golden medalist, in one of the secondary roles, CineEuropa reported.
The first ever Finnish/Croatian co-production was introduced to co-financiers in Cannes.
The established documentary filmmaker Halonen made his fiction debut with Princess (2010), which became one of the most popular Finnish films of the past decade.
His latest work, When Heroes Lie, a documentary about doping in elite cross-country skiing in Finland, gave him the idea to continue to explore the subject from a fictional point of view.
”With fiction, I can play with the characters and bring in empathy and humour. I want to help people think of doping in a different way, from the angle of people outside the system,” said the director.
A Patriotic Man is the story of ski champion Toivoa who has a rare blood type: his hemoglobin levels are high and his O- blood is compatible with everyone.
This makes Toivo the secret weapon for the Finnish national ski team.
He becomes a friend of Aino, herself a ski champion, beloved by the audience and the media. The pair ski to the top of the world’s ranking, until the Olympic games race.
When an unexpected incident occurs, the Finnish Olympic team’s success is placed in Toivo’s hands. Will he be a patriotic man?
In the lead roles are Martin Suosalo, Pamela Tola, Mikko Kouki and Hannu-Pekka Bjorkman.
Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson who won the Gold medal for the 100-metre race at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games but had to give it back because of illegal doping, plays a taxi driver who picks up Toivo.
The film, produced by Halonen’s Art Films Production in co-production with Croatia’s MP Film Production was granted support from Eurimages, the Finnish Film Foundation and Nordisk Film & TV Fond.
The film will be released domestically on December 4, 2013.
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