Who We Are

Erol Mintaş (b. 1983, Kars) completed his graduate studies in cinema—his MA thesis was about the cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky. His first short Butimar, and second short Berf (aka Snow) received many awards, and competed in various important film festivals around the world. In 2014, Mintaş’s first feature, Song of My Mother, made a major splash on the festival circuit, playing around the world and being awarded plenty of prizes, including the Heart of Sarajevo award for best film and best actor, and numerous other important awards. He moved to Helsinki in January 2017, where his new project (Earth Song with collaborator Mikko Viljanen) is currently taking place, supported by thean Finnish Film Foundation (Suomen elokuvasäätiö) scriptwriting grant. His documentary film, From Mesopotamia to The North: Dzamil Kamangar, received funding from KONE Foundation, and is in production.

Erol Mintaş / Founder & Artistic Director

Administration Department

Sherwan Haji (b. 1985) is a filmmaker, writer, and actor. Haji has graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus. Haji played leading roles in several TV series for multiple TV channels in the Middle East, before moving to Finland in 2010 to continue his studies. He works as a filmmaker, writer, and actor. In 2012, he established the Lion’s Line Ltd production company. Haji has worked as an educator while producing documentaries, fiction movies, and art workshops. He moved to Cambridge to continue his studies and was awarded an MA in Film & TV Production in 2016. Haji recently acted for legendary filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, playing the role of main character Khalid in 2017’s The Other Side of Hope, for which he was awarded Best Actor at the Dublin International Film Festival..

Sherwan Haji / Production Manager

Mariangela Pluchino (Venezuela, 1991). She graduated in Psychology from the University of Costa Rica, and holds a MA in non-fiction cinema from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She is a Helsinki based filmmaker and producer.

Mariangela Pluchino / Production Coordinator

Maker and enabler, artist and legal practitioner, crazy cat and plant lady. Riikka’s one-person law firm Vegan & Legal started as a bike café in 2020 and has since developed into a radical legal practice where sustainability, non-discrimination, and kindness are the driving forces. Her alter ego, the Tax Potato, gives tax advice to artists in Vegan & Legal’s social media channels. Currently, one of Riikka’s objectives is to develop alternative strategies to working with legal issues, such as creating feminist agreement and contract writing practices, queer approaches to family and inheritance law, and taxation emancipation for the precariat.

Riikka Kuoppala / Legal & Financial Advisor

Alex van Giersbergen makes computer- and electronic- based works that focus on indirect or unusual interaction with the viewers. The works try to make a semi-functional translation of every day experiences and actions. The aim is to break the patterns in peoples behaviour by playfully attracting their attention and have them experience common principles in a new way.

Alex van Giersbergen / Web Development

Helen Aleksandrova (b. 1992) is a Helsinki-based artist and director from St.Petersburg. She works primarily with moving images, digital performance, and camp horror cinema. She holds a double Bachelor’s degree in Film & Video from Smolny College, St.Petersburg State University, and Bard College. She received her Master’s degree from Aalto University in the program of Visual Culture and Contemporary Art in 2017.

Helen Aleksandrova / Coordinator

Active Lecturers

Niina Vornanen is a film editor with experience in many other fields of audiovisual production as well. She has an MA from ELO Film School/Aalto University (film editing).

Niina Vornanen / Film Editing

Mete is a producer and CEO of Sons of Lumière, a Helsinki-based production company that makes international films of topics often related to global problems and phenomena. He produces both fiction and documentary films.

Mete Sasioglu / Producing

Alejandro Pedregal is a researcher at the Spanish Research Council (CSIC). He has been a lecturer at University-Wide Art Studies (UWAS) at Aalto University (Finland), and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Film, Television, and Scenography of the same institution, where he gained his Doctor degree with distinction. Founding member of the Critical Cinema Lab, he also founded and directed Lens Politica Film and Media Art Festival (2005-2011), and is the film director and screenwriter of several award-winning fiction and documentary works. Besides articles published in academic journals and other media, he has published several books, being the latest Evelia: testimonio de Guerrero (2018).

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Alejandro Pedregal / Film & Critical Theories

Jan Forsström is a Finnish screenwriter, director, script editor and author. He graduated from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 2006. Forsström´s screenwriting credits include J-P Valkeapää´s The Visitor, The Princess of Egypt, which Forsström himself directed; and Zaida Bergroth´s films Last Cowboy Standing, The Good Son, Miami and Maria´s Paradise. As a script editor/consultant, Forsström has been involved in dozens of Finnish and international productions, both fiction and documentary. He has also published two books of fiction.

Jan Forsström / Scriptwriting

Kirsi Korhonen (b.1983) is a Helsinki-based sound designer, who has worked in more than 60 productions in film, TV, radio, and media art since 2004. She has studied in the University of Industrial Art and Design Helsinki, and works as a sound recordist, sound editor, and sound designer. Some of her work includes Oma Maa, Matchen, Jürgensonin taajuus, and the TV series Karppi.

Kirsi Korhonen / Sound Recording & Editing

Jemina Sillanpää (b.1982) is an actress, director, musician, and teacher. She graduated with an MA in Acting in 2010 from the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts, Helsinki. She has also pursued Pedagogical Studies (2010-2014) at the Theatre Academy, within their department of Dance and Theatre Pedagogy. She has taught acting courses in a variety of universities, schools, theatres, and organisations across Finland. Jemina directed the film Karavaani 2017 which was screened at the National Theatre in Helsinki; she has also directed a variety of performances at different theatres. Jemina also works as a musician and has a band with her sister called Jemina & Selina. They have toured in Finland, Europe and USA.

Jemina Sillanpää / Camera Acting

Sezgin Boynik (b. 1977) lives and works in Helsinki, having completed a PhD on the cultural politics of Black Wave in Yugoslavia from 1963 to 1972. He has published texts about punk, cultural nationalism, the Situationist International, Yugoslavian cinema, and the relation between aesthetics and politics. He co-edited Nationalism and Contemporary Art (2007), and co-authored a book on An Interrupted History of Punk and Underground Resources in Turkey, 1978-1999 (2008).

He also authored Counter-constructivist Model (2012); Still Stealing Steel: Historical-Materialist Study of Zaum (2014); Noise After Babel: Language Unrestrained (2015); and On Lenin: Atlases, Herbariums, Rituals (2017). He is founder and editor of Rab-Rab: Journal for Political and Formal Inquiries in Art.

Sezgin Boynik / Forms of Representation

Iiris first started filmmaking in primary school and completed her first independent at the age of 12. She’s now been working as a 1st Assistant Director for more than a decade. Mostly Iiris considers 1st AD’s job as being the glue holding together creative vision, production and it’s crew and cast. On her work she’s underlines the importance of handling everyone respectfully and making the working environment safe.

Due to her interest in global films, Iiris has been focusing on international and challenging co-productions. Lately, she’s ran sets in most of the Nordic and Baltic countries, US and Djibouti and worked with crew and production companies from all over the world.

Besides working as a 1st AD Iiris is a Co-Founder of Blockbusters Gang, Finland’s first crewing service provider in the media industry. She’s also a regular lecturer in Aalto University of Arts in Helsinki.

Iiris Juutilainen / 1st Assistant Director

Jonas Rothlaender (b. 1982 in Lübeck, Germany), studied directing at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB). His first feature-length documentary Familiar Circles, premiered during Max-Ophüls-Preis in 2015, and had its theatrical release at the beginning of 2016. His feature film debut Fado, an international co-production, premiered in Rotterdam and at Max-Ophüls-Preis in 2016, where he won the prize for best directing. It subsequently toured around many international festivals, where it won several awards. During the Berlinale 2017, Fado received the prize for best debut from the German Film Critics’ Association.

Jonas Rothlaender / Creative Writing & Directing

Hannu Käki is a cinematographer based in Helsinki. After studying cinematography at Aalto University´s Department of Film, Television and Scenography he´s been working as a freelancer dop and colorist working in documentaries, fiction, commercials, experimental cinema and music videos.

Hannu Käki / Color Grading

Aino Suni (1985) is a Helsinki-based film director and screenwriter. Suni graduated in 2014 as Master in Film Screenwriting from University of Salford, UK. Suni works both in fiction and documentary. Her first feature documentary Never Again (2018) about female gangsta rap artist Mercedes Bentso was a big hit in Love&Anarchy film festival and was selected in the national competition of Tampere film festival. Her short films Shake!, Turnaround and Wolf Carver have been selected in major film festivals. Suni’s short popular documentary series Pussy Diaries was just released on YLE. Currently Suni is preparing for her first fiction feature, A Girl’s Room.

Aino Suni / Scriptwriting

Maryan Abdulkarim is a writer who is interested in questions relating to freedom. Abdulkarim investigates the potential of radical dreaming together with Sonya Lindfors in We Should All Be Dreaming.

Maryan Abdulkarim / Norms, Theories & Histories

Salla Sorri (b. 1981, Finland) is a Helsinki-based director. She graduated with an MA from the Helsinki Film School 2014. In 2009, her film The Hidden Room was commissioned by Amos Anderson Art Museum. In 2012, she co-directed the documentary Resistente, which was selected to premiere at the 69th Venice Film Festival. Her first feature documentary, Between Rings, which she also co-directed, was granted an honorary mention in the Tampere Film Festival 2015. Her first short fiction, Return Until, was screened in the Cannes Cinéfondation selection in 2014.

Salla Sorri / Directing

Jaakko Kiljunen (MA) is a professional Finnish actor with an international career. He graduated with an MA from the St. Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy in 2009, and his post-graduate studies include a one year course with the Theater Group SITI-Company, New York. Kiljunen has versatile experiences working in various film, TV, and theatre productions. He has worked in Finland, Russia, Lithuania, Portugal, Italy, Greece and the USA, acting in Finnish, English and Russian. In Finland, he is best known for his charismatic roles in popular TV shows Korpelan Kujanjuoksu and Pirunpelto, produced by YLE, the Finnish National Broadcasting Company. In addition, Kiljunen is an experienced acting coach and teacher who specialises in the Suzuki method for acting, and the Viewpoints technique.

Jaakko Kiljunen / Acting

Director and writer Alli Haapasalo is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (MFA 2009) as well as Aalto University’s School of Motion Picture, Television and Production Design (BA 2003). Films written and directed by Haapasalo include award winning On Thin Ice (2009), critically acclaimed Love and Fury (2017) and collectively made Force of Habit (2019), nominated for Jussi Awards for best film, best screenplay and best directing. She co-directed drama series Shadow Lines (2019), which received a Golden Venla nomination for best directing. Haapasalo is currently in production with a feature documentary, and in preproduction with her next narrative feature film.

Alli Haapasalo / Directing

Sherwan Haji (b. 1985) is a filmmaker, writer, and actor. Haji has graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus. Haji played leading roles in several TV series for multiple TV channels in the Middle East, before moving to Finland in 2010 to continue his studies. He works as a filmmaker, writer, and actor. In 2012, he established the Lion’s Line Ltd production company.

Haji has worked as an educator, while producing documentaries, fiction movies, and art workshops. He moved to Cambridge to continue his studies, and was awarded an MA in Film & TV Production in 2016. Haji recently acted for legendary filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, playing the role of main character Khalid in 2017’s The Other Side of Hope, for which he was awarded Best Actor at the Dublin International Film Festival.

Sherwan Haji / Acting

Toni Teivaala is a sound designer who is interested in crafting sounds and music to films.

Even that he is graduated from film school as a Master of Arts, he still sees himself as a keen student in finding fresh ways for film storytelling. Toni has worked fulltime freelancer from year 2012 and films that has been working with have won first prices in several film festivals from Tampere to Los Angeles.

Toni Teivaala / Sound: Final Mix

Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Christopher Thomas began his career as a photographer before falling in love with filmmaking. This love led him to a BA in Media Communication (Television) from the University of the West Indies, and an MA in Cinematography from the London Film School. He has worked in film and video production in the Caribbean and Europe for more than 10 years, and is currently based in Helsinki, Finland.

Christopher L. Thomas / Lighting & Cinematography

Jerem is an experienced film editor and has been editing both drama and documentary as a freelancer. He holds a Master of Arts from Aalto University.
He co-directed the documentary film The Blackouts (53 mins, 2018) which
won the Grand Prix at Emigra Film Festival, Warsaw 2019.

Jerem Tonteri / Film Editing

Erol Mintaş (b. 1983, Kars) completed his graduate studies in cinema—his MA thesis was about the cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky. His first short Butimar, and second short Berf (aka Snow) received many awards, and competed in various important film festivals around the world. In 2014, Mintaş’s first feature, Song of My Mother, made a major splash on the festival circuit, playing around the world and being awarded plenty of prizes, including the Heart of Sarajevo award for best film and best actor, and numerous other important awards. He moved to Helsinki in January 2017, where his new project (Earth Song with collaborator Mikko Viljanen) is currently taking place, supported by thean Finnish Film Foundation (Suomen elokuvasäätiö) scriptwriting grant. His documentary film, From Mesopotamia to The North: Dzamil Kamangar, received funding from KONE Foundation, and is in production.

Erol Mintaş / Script Development & Directing

Board of Collaborators

Marjo Pipinen / Finnish Film Foundation
Kimmo Koskinen  / Artlab Productions
Isabel Maria Hölzl / Goethe Institut Finnland
Johanna Rissanen / Cultural Centre CAISA
Jani Kylmälä / Helsinki Vocational Adult Institute, Stage and Theatre Technology /Make-up
Patrizia Gambarotta / Istituto Italiano di Cultura Helsinki
Susanna Helke / Critical Cinema Lab at the Department of Film, Television and Scenography, Aalto ARTS 
Giovanna Esposito Yussif  / Museum of Impossible Forms
Elina Knihtilä / The University of Arts Helsinki, Theatre Academy
Johanna Fredriksson / Taidekoulu Maa
Juha Huuskonen / HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme
Päivi Balomenos / Design Museum
Matti Strahlendorff / University of the Arts Helsinki – Sibelius Academy
Cristian Medel / GAP- Globe Art Point
Paul O’Neill / Publics
Michaël Toledano / French Institute in Finland 
Nita Arpiainen / Actors Academy Finland (AAF)
Hanna Parry / Baltic Circle – International Theatre Festival
Ana Gutieszca / Third Space

Advisory Board

Jaana Puskala / Head of International Department (Finnish Film Foundation)
Jarmo Lampela / Filmmaker
Sari Volanen / Film Producer
Sanna Kultanen / Film Producer
Saara Saarela / Filmmaker
Marja Helander / Sami Artist and Filmmaker
Tellervo Kalleinen / Artist
Senni Jyrkiäinen / Researcher
Ahmet Öğüt / Visual Artist and Sociocultural Initiator
Kalle Hamm / Artist
Mazdak Nassir / Filmmaker
Sasha Huber / Visual Artist
Christopher Wessels / Filmmaker
Panos Balomenos / Artist
Ahmed al Nawas / Researcher, Independent Curator
Hamy Ramezan / Filmmaker

Funders

The academy’s core concept was founded by filmmaker Erol Mintaş in 2018.
Developed in collaboration with Botyrka Konsthall in Stockholm, with the support of the Swedish Institute.


The academy’s pedagogical approach was tested with a “test workshop” in 2018, directed by Erol Mintaş where the first group of lecturers, participants, and other team members formed. The workshop was supported by Goethe Insitute Finland.


The academy’s concept was fully launched in Helsinki, in 2019.
The academy is supported by Kone Foundation for 2019-2022.