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Debuting their latest collaboration, Heart of a Lion, to positive reactions at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, Helsinki-filmi has set adored Finnish director Dome Karukoski to helm a biopic based on the life of gay illustrator Tom of Finland. The film will be the first authorized portrait of the influential Finnish pornographer, approved by the Tom of Finland Foundation.
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Tom of Finland, aka Touko Laaksonen, is considered a pioneer of androerotic and fetish art, illustrating overtly homoerotic imagery from the early 1950s through the late ’70s. His “beefcake” artwork has been collected by both the Museum of Modern Art and LACMA. “It’s impossible to overstate the impact Tom’s work has had on the image and self-image of gay men all over the world. He created the archetypes that now form an integral part of the iconography of popular culture, both gay and straight,” says Aleksi Bardy, producer and partner at Helsinki-filmi.
Over the last decade, Karukoski has emerged as one of Finland’s premiere directors, picking up a multitude of awards and solidifying his place in the industry with box office results. Yet his topics are decidedly outside the Hollywood mainstream; Heart of a Lion is described as “a redemption story” centered on the head of a family of neo-Nazis. Karukoski will make his English-language debut with the proposed Tom of Finland biopic.
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Helsinki-filmi and Karukoski were not immediately available for additional comment. According to a press release, casting is expected to be announced in early 2014.
Heart of a Lion will open in Finland on Oct. 18.
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