Norsk filminstitutt

Director Johanna Pyykkö will participate in Toronto Film Festival’s prestigious Filmmaker Lab with her upcoming feature film EBBA & THE LOVER. The director will also receive an award at this year’s festival.

johanna pykkoNY

Johanna Pyykkö, a filmmaker of Finnish-Swedish descent, was educated at the Norwegian Film School in Lillehammer, and is currently working in Oslo, where she resides, and in Sweden.

Pyykkö and her forthcoming feature EBBA & THE LOVER, which partakes in NFI’s script development programme and was previously given an idea development grant from NFI’s talent programme New Roads, will attend the international director laboratory during the Toronto Film Festival, one of the world’s largest film festivals. It runs September 5 - 15.

The TIFF is North America’s largest and most important film festival, with more than a hundred films from over sixty countries in its program. It is also one of the world’s most important markets for buying and selling films internationally. This year, two other Norwegian features will also be shown there, Maria Sødahl’s HOPE and Jorunn Myklebust Syversen’s DISCO.

The world’s most promising talents

The TIFF Filmmaker Lab is a development lab for gifted directors. Every year, the Lab invites some of the world’s most promising filmmakers to participate in a four-day program where internationally acclaimed filmmakers and guests teach and inspire the participants on how the industry works and how they better can develop their projects. Among previous lecturers: Jane Campion, Juliette Binoche, Jim Stark, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Ivan Reitman, Atom Egoyan, Sandra Oh, Darren Aronofsky, Mia Hansen-Løve, Agnieszka Holland, Wim Wenders, Alfonso Cuarón and Spike Lee, to name a few.

“It is a great honour to be selected to attend the Toronto Film Festival - and, in addition, also to receive an award and a scholarship from the TIFF Filmmaker Lab Fellowship Scholarship!” enthuses an joyful Pyykkö, who in addition to the award and scholarship will receive an official honorary title and be an associate of the festival. “All this means that one of the world’s biggest film festivals is highlighting my next feature and supports it being made.”

“Johanna Pyykkö is a very exciting and talented director,” says NFI department director Stine Helgeland, “and with this award and her work at the TIFF Filmmaker Lab, she will get a unique chance to further develop her voice and her film project.”


Johanna Pyykkö participates in UP, NFI and Talent Norway’s development program for female filmmakers. During the past year, she attended a number of workshops and programs through UP, including with EBBA & THE LOVER, a project which was also featured in a NFI pitch event at the Berlin Film Festival in February, as well as selected for the Focus Pro pitch forum at May’s Cannes Film Festival.

Johanna Pyykkö co-wrote EBBA & THE LOVER’s screenplay with Jørgen Færøy Flasnes, and the film is being produced by Verona Meier at Ape & Bjørn production company. It tells the story of Ebba, an 18-year-old school dropout, who suffers from poor self-esteem and works in the Port of Oslo. She is lonely, dreaming of finding a great, true love. One evening, as she is finishing work, she encounters an Eastern European man who has hit his head and appears completely disoriented. Ebba finds him wonderfully attractive, and when she discovers that he has lost his memory, on an impulse she decides to take advantage of the situation and tells him that she is his girlfriend and that they are very much in love with each other.

International Critics Week in Cannes

Earlier this year, Johanna Pyykkö participated in the prestigious Semaine de la Critique in Cannes with her short film THE MANILA LOVER, produced by Barbosa Film. The film received NOK 1 million in production grants from NFI.

Read an interview with Johanna Pyykkö here

Pyykkö has directed several award-winning short films: VI SKA PLOCKA PASCAL I NATT (2010), LILLASYSTER FIXAR KONDOMER (2011), BEVISA DET! (2012) and OSLO TRIFFIC (2016). This past summer, her short MY SISTER DANCES had its world premiere in the international competition at Italy’s Lago Film Fest. Pyykkö has also written episodes for the popular NRK TV-series Homeground.

In addition to her feature film, EBBA & THE LOVER, Pyykkö is working on a drama series and developing other feature projects, several of which have received development grants from NFI’s New Roads and the Swedish Film Institute, among others.