Misc News

February good ‘free film’ month

Films offered free of charge include box office hits like Man's Job (Miehen työ), Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Shrek the Third, The Passionate Life of Edith Piaf, The Holiday, Kaurismäki films The Man Without a Past and Lights in the Dusk, and V2- Dead Angel.

With some cultural centres offering Finnish documentaries from the recent DocPoint Helsinki Documentary Festival
(many with English subtitles) and extra children’s films during the
school winter holidays, the total number of free film screenings is
close to one hundred.

Misc News

Hanoi Rocks drummer replaced

Popedia (formed in 1977) has announced a new line-up which, in addition to founding member Pate Mustajärvi (vocals) and long-time members Costello Hautamäki (guitar) and Jyrki Melartin (bass), consists of Lahtinen and keyboard player Iso-Pate Kivinen. A new album by the group Tampere-based group is scheduled to be released this autumn.

Lacu Lahtinen has played with Hanoi Rocks since lead singer Michael Monroe and guitarist Andy McCoy
reformed the band in 2002. Before that, he worked with Monroe on his
solo projects.

Hanoi Rocks
will announce the name of a new drummer soon.

Lacu Lahtinen: MySpace

Hanoi Rocks:
official website | MySpace

Popeda: official website (in Finnish) |


Another shot on the rocks – FREE!'s interview with Hanoi Rocks (May 2007)

Review: Street Poetry – Hanoi Rocks

News: Hanoi Rocks meets the fans! (31.8.2007)

Misc News

Legendary nightclub closes its doors

The nightclub closed because it couldn’t compete any more with the ever growing number of other nightclubs in the Finnish capital. Last Saturday (26.1) was the discotheque’s last club night, a special night open to all, to which members and other regular customers had been invited by SMS.

Celebrities and yuppies

Hotel Helsinki’s nightclub opened its doors on Hallituskatu (nowadays Yliopistonkatu) under the name ‘Helsinki Club’ in 1971. Before that, the hotel had run a restaurant under the same name and the hotel’s nightclub was called 'Helsinki-by-Night'.

For a long time, the club attracted especially lots of celebrities. As late as in 1989, even the Rolling StonesMick Jagger went to party at the Helsinki Club after a gig.

In the 1980s the Helsinki Club got a yuppie image, when the well-off could become club members and walk straight past the cues outside for 500 marks (about 83 euros) per year. Later, the membership became free of charge.

The Helsinki Club, for a long time one of only a few nightclubs in the capital, saw many ups, but also had its downs. During the early nineties there were often fights reported at the club. Once a man was even beaten to death in front of the premises. Some racist customers harassed people with a foreign background. Also notorious were the arguments between taxi drivers.

The Helsinki Club changed its image and interior many times, and last reopened in September 2006.

Since then, the nightclub still managed to attract enough costumers during weekends. But
on other days visitor numbers just were not high enough any more to
cover the high rental costs of the A location property in the capital’s

In the future, some of Helsinki Club’s bars will be open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On other days the former nightclub can be booked for private occasions. In February the place will renovated and prepared for its future purposes.

Helsinki Club (in Finnish)

360° virtual tour

Cover story Misc

Finnish game industry

{mosimage}Video games are not children’s games any more. They belong to one of the major entertainment industries in the world. With almost a hundred companies developing games, Finland is becoming an important player in this sector and it delivers one of the country’s specialties: mobile phone games.






It is a Tuesday night in a pub in the center of Helsinki. The place is crowded with young people playing… video games. It is the monthly gathering of the Finnish chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA Finland). This time there are free drinks sponsored by an international computer processor manufacturer and the attendees show their skills in a competition playing the racing video game Project Gotham Racing 4 and the popular Guitar Hero 3.

It is a young crowd, most of them are in their mid or late twenties, and it represents the fast growing game industry. In Finland there are around 80 companies developing video games in any format, from mobile phones to the latest generation consoles and PC. The oldest game firm was established in 1994, so the Finnish game industry is still relatively young. Nevertheless last year, the turnover of the industry was around 75 million euro and the number of employees was more than double than in 2004. Nowadays around 1,000 people work in game development, in offices in Finland and outside Finland.

KooPee Hiltunen represents Neogames, the member organization of the industry. According to him, there are very easy reasons that explain the success of this sector in Finland: “There is a good gaming culture, and good technology and infrastructure that secures the product delivery and a good price-quality ratio”, Hiltunen explains. “Also we enjoy good subsidies from Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation”.

During 2007 Tekes supported the industry with 6 million euro. This means that Finland invests in the game industry more any other country in Europe. Public investment in the games industry relative to the population is now 1.1 euros per head, compared with about 4 cents in the EU region.

The quality of Finnish games is well represented in the production of international hits. Espoo-based game studio Remedy Entertainment is responsible of the successful Max Payne saga. The first part of this third-person shooter video game was published in 2001 and it became a best seller world wide that even reached Hollywood. The production of the Max Payne film is about to begin with Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. Meanwhile in Espoo, Remedy is well into the production of a long awaited new title which might be released this year. Developed exclusively for Xbox 360 and Windows Vista, Alan Wake is described as “psychological action thriller”.

Another success in the brief story of the Finnish game industry is the online game Habbo Hotel, developed by Sulake. It started as a free-time project in 1999, but nowadays Habbo is recognize as international brand, localized in 31 countries with six million users visiting the Habbo communities and playing the game. The company employs around 300 people in 14 different offices around the globe.

With these successes in mind, the industry is growing fast and Neogames predicts that the game industry will become a major export sector in the next few years. “Most of the Finnish game companies are growing faster than the market”, Hiltunen explains.

{mosimage}Pocket gaming

One of the characteristics of the industry in Finland is that game developers have chosen mobile phones as the platform of choice. Due to Nokia’s strong presence, Finland has been a pioneer in mobile games, a market that is expected to grow over the next few years.

Many Finnish companies like Digital Chocolate / Sumea, Rovio, Universomo or Mr Goodliving are among the top developers of mobile games and they served their games to operators across the world. These companies produced several titles a year and they must  port them to the hundreds of difference mobile phones models.

Markku Hakala is the managing director and one of the founders of Universomo. For him, developing mobile games was the logical path to follow. “At the beginning, we did not have any prior experiences in the game industry, so PC and console game was too far ahead us”, he says.

Mobile gaming opens the doors of game development for a young generation of gamers. Hakala mentions the demoscene culture and Nokia as the main reasons that lead programmers and developers to the mobile games. Demoscene is a computer art that specializes in producing non playable demos of games to showcase programming and artistic skills. Finland hosts Assembly, one of the largest international demoparties that gathers around 5,000 participants every summer. Since 2007, the event has also a winter edition which this year will be held in Tampere from 22nd to 24th of March.

Established in 2002, Universomo is the only major game developer outside the Helsinki area. The main office is in Tampere, although recently the firm opened a new one in Helsinki. “When we started, we didn’t think we would grow so much, so Tampere was fine”, admits Markku. Indeed Universomo has doubled its personnel every year and developed games for well known brands like Star Wars and the film 300. In 2007 the company was acquired by THQ Wireless, one of the major mobile phone publishers.

Sumea is another mobile games developer that has attracted foreign investors. Sumea was founded in 1999 and in 2004 it was acquired by Digital Chocolate, a California based company founded by Trip Hawkins, one of the pioneers of computer games and founder of Electronic Arts back in the early eighties.

Digital Chocolate is one of the top 5 mobile phone publishers and its main office and game studio remains in Helsinki and it employs more than 100 people coming from many different countries. Soon the company will also start operations in India. This rises the question if game development might move to more affordable countries. KooPee Hiltunen sees no threat: “India is at the moment very good place to make large volume,"bulk" games, but only European game developers can make European (Western) games. This is a little bit like film industry. Making Hollywood films in Bollywood would make economical sense, but still that doesn’t happen”.

The game industry in Finland is flourishing and growing at a fast pace. “We are a visible industry already and we get the attention we deserve.However, we are still a small business and we would like to get more investors that truly understand the peculiarities of this industry”, concludes Markku Hakala.

Misc News

All What You Can Get: English-language theatre in Helsinki

The fresh comedy, written by Romanian Ioan Peter and directed by David Kozma, tells the story of three Romanians on their way to the England of their dreams. They wait for instructions at a train station. While many trains are rushing by, they get orders from a certain ‘Mr. Polonius’ through a public phone. The bones of Hamlet and Ceauşescu and the statue of Lenin lead the threesome from one situation to another. Ultimately they find out whether the grass is really greener at the other side of the fence.

All What You Can Get, described as 'a comical mixture of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a road-movie and a satirical thriller', is performed daily until the end of January (except on Thursday the 24th and Monday the 28th).


European Theatre Collective

23.1, 25-27.1 and 29-31.1

at 19:00

KokoTeatteri [website, in Finnish]
Unioninkatu 45

Tickets: 15 / 10 €
Groups (min. 8): 8 € /person

  • All What You Can Get

  • Director: David Kozma

  • Dramaturgy: Markus Alanen

  • Performers: Romulus Chiciuc, Timo-Pekka Luoma, Salla Kozma, David Kozma

  • Music: Lauri Wuolio

  • Choreography: Mari Koponen
Misc News

Also stopping by in Finland: Rihanna, Juanes, Foo Fighters, Deep Purple and Nazareth

Popular R & B star Rihanna will fill Helsinki’s Hartwall
Areena on the 14th of March. Tickets will cost 49 and 46 euro and will
go on sale on Tuesday at 9.00 via Lippupalvelu. Latino heartthrob Juanes
performs at Helsinki’s Jäähalli (Ice Hall) on the 31st of July. Tickets
costing 53 euro are available via or from Thursday (24.1)
via Lippupalvelu.

Also Deep Purple and Nazareth are heading to
Finland as part of their 40th anniversary tour. The legendary British
rockers play the Jäähalli in the capital on the 12th of August
(tickets: 57 euro) and the Kuopio Hall in Kuopio (50 euro) the next
day. Tickets can be bought via or from Friday (25.1) via

For more info and more foreign acts playing in the country, check Coming to Finland

UPDATE: The organisers of Provinssirock in Seinäjoki, held for the thirtieth time during the second weekend of June, have announced this year's first big international act performing at the festival. The Foo Fighters will take the stage on Sunday, the 15th of June. It will be the first time the American rock group lead by Dave Grohl play in Finland at a publicly accessible event.

Misc News

Good Charlotte coming to Helsinki

Other foreign bands that have announced gigs in Finland include
Low (5.4 Helsinki), Down (21.3 Tampere, 22.3 Helsinki), No Use for a Name (27.4  Helsinki) and Neverstore (11.3 Helsinki, 12.3 Turku, 13.3 Tampere, 14.3 Joensuu and 15.3 Seinäjoki).

For more info, check Coming to Finland

Misc News

No Oscar for Miehen Työ

Miehen Työ (Man’s Job) tells about family father Juha (Tommi Korpela) who, after being fired from his job at a concrete factory, ends up secretly working as a prostitute.

Last year, leading actor Korpela won the Best Actor award at the Marrakech International Film Festival. Director Aleksi Salmenperä was nominated for the Golden Saint George at the International Moscow Film Festival. Miehen Työ was also nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize and submitted as Finland’s entry for the European Film Awards.

On Tuesday (22.1) the Academy Awards selection committee will announce the final five nominees for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. The winners will be announced during the live televised awards ceremony on the 24th of February.


UPDATE: The final shortlist of nominees was announced on the 22nd of January. The five films that are nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film are: Beaufort (Israel), The Counterfeiters (Austria), Katyń (Poland), Mongol (Kazakhstan) and 12 (Russia).

Miehen Työ
– official site (in Finnish)
Miehen Työ / Man's Job – Blind Spot Pictures
Trailer (with English subtitles)

The Oscars

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days – official site

Persepolis – official US site

Misc News

Rufus Wainwright in Helsinki in April

Rufus Wainwright:
official site | MySpace


Misc News

The Simpsons Movie Finnish box office hit of 2007

In all, the number of people going to the cinema in Finland was 2 per
cent lower than in 2006. Finnish films attracted 1.3 million visitors,
20 per cent of the total number of cinema visits.

This year, at least
eleven Finnish films are expected to premiere.

The Simpsons Movie

Joulutarina (Christmas Story)

Trailer (with Englsih subtitles)

Misc News

Avril Lavigne and Backstreet Boys coming to Helsinki

Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne will perform at the
capital's Hartwall Areena on the 30th of June as part of her Best Damn
Tour. Tickets will go on sale in January. The Backstreet Boys
bring their more mature new sound to Finnish fans at the same venue on
the 16th of April. Both Avril Lavigne and the Backstreet Boys last
performed in Finland in 2005.

UPDATE: On January 21, concert promoter Welldone announced that the Avril Lavigne gig will take place at Helsinki's Jäähalli, in spite of what it said on Lavigne's official website.

Also check Coming to Finland >>

Misc News

Finns on skates 5000 years ago


Dashing Finns were first to get their skates on 5,000 years ago – The Times Online

Misc News

Domestic films attract over 1 million people to Finnish cinemas

Number 2 on the list is Joulutarina (Christmas Story) directed by Juha Wuolijoki,
which premiered on the 16th of November and may well end up being the
most popular Finnish film of 2007. Last weekend it again topped the box
office list with 20,826 viewers. So far (17.12) it has drawn a total of
172,254 people to Finnish cinemas.

V2: Dead Angel (V2: Jäätynyt enkeli) | trailer (with English subtitles)

Christmas Story (Joulutarina) | trailer (with English subtitles)

Misc News

Fire interrupts Nightwish gig

The fire started at another wing of congress centre Jyväskylä Paviljonki, where the gig took place. Because of heavy smoke development and the possibility of the fire spreading, the Nightwish fans were told to leave the hall and wait outside the building.

After about half an hour Nightwish were allowed to continue playing, when the fire department had begun extinguishing the fire and the risk of the fire spreading to the concert hall had been ruled out.

Not all fans were immediately aware of the resumption of the gig. Some had reportedly even gone home. The smoke machine used by Nightwish during the performance is also said to have caused some confusion.

The fire broke out when a shield covering a wall during construction works had been blown against a lamp by the wind and caught fire. The flames then spread to the roof of the building.


Nightwish Nummer Eins in Germany
Top metal musicians form new band
Nightwish album leaked
Nightwish announce first tour with Anette

Review: Nightwish – Dark Passion Play

Interview: Tarja strikes back

Official site | MySpace

Jyväskylä Palviljonki

Misc News

Russian painting sold for € 600,000

The painting was auctioned at auction house Bukowski. The final bid was twice as high as the starting price.

The work, painted by Bogolyubov in 1870, was sold to a Russian bidder.

Less than two weeks ago another auction house in Helsinki, Hagelstam, also did good business, when a painting by Finnish realist painter Eero Järnefelt (1863-1937) changed owners for 630,000 euros.


Near-record price for Finnish masterpiece at auction

Photo of the auctioned painting by A.P. Bogolyubov

Biography of Bogolyubov and more of his work –

Auction house Bukowskis (Helsinki)