By Marta Balaga for

Finnish helmer Tiina Lymi has found the cast for her upcoming period drama “Stormskerry Maja,” set in the 19th century. “Thin Blue Line” star Amanda Jansson will play the headstrong lead, with Linus Troedsson cast as Maja’s husband Janne.

Jonna Järnefelt, Tobias Zilliacus, Amanda Kilpeläinen Arvidsson will also star, joined by Tony Doyle and Desmond Eastwood, who appeared in “Normal People.” The film will be shot in Swedish and English.

Based on a series of novels written by Anni Blomqvist, “Stormskerry Maja” tells the story of Maja and her family as they move to a barren and remote island. Their everyday life is a relentless battle for survival, but Maja stands her ground. Despite all the setbacks, she stays in Stormskerry, where her roots are.

Produced by Markus Selin, Jukka Helle and Hanna Virolainen for Solar Films, it will be distributed locally by Nordisk Films. The film will premiere in January 2024.

“Amanda has such a strong presence and exceptional sensibility as an actor. I feel I can see through her, read her feelings. She is also a very nice person and I want to work with nice people now. The older I get, the more important it is to me,” says Lymi.

An established actor herself, and Jussi winner for “Love in a Fish Bowl,” she encourages collaboration.

“I have written and directed theater plays too and I am used to people coming together, commenting on each other’s work. I don’t mind if someone’s idea is better than mine. I will just be grateful for it,” she says.

“I know the process of building a character, so I try to create a safe space, saying: ‘I take responsibility for you as an actor and you can trust me.’ Nobody has a right to hurt another person because of a movie. If that’s what you do, you are not a very good director.”

Lymi admits to having taken some liberties with the celebrated novels, rendering Maja a “feminist” character. Blomqvist’s work has already been tackled in the 1970s, in Åke Lindman’s popular TV series.

“The source of her resilience is love. She is accepted the way she is [by her husband] and able to realize her full potential as a person. That’s how one should be loved: completely or not at all,” she notes.

She sees her protagonist as an “entrepreneur,” taking control of her life at the time when women’s liberties were limited.

“She refuses to settle for less than what she is entitled to. She is an exceptional woman who doesn’t have to be ‘tough,’ doesn’t have to act like a man. She is herself.”

But as echoes of the Crimean War start to get louder, taking over her home, Maja needs to protect her family from a brand new threat.

“In the novels, she doesn’t see the war. Here, it comes to the island,” explains Lymi.

“She wins the respect of a high-ranking British officer and you could say that she wins the war, in a way. Mostly because she doesn’t give in to hatred.”

“We are often being told that man is a beast. That we need society, or at least some structures, to protect us from each other. We hear about all these horrible things that happen during the war and they are true, but there are also stories about people helping each other.”

Lymi will show the world that finds itself at the crossroads, with the old ways and beliefs slowly clearing the way for the new, even on the island resistant to change. But despite the film’s period setting, she wants the story to feel engaging today.

“Love has always been the same, hate has been the same. I am really trying to stick to Maja’s point of view, show how she sees the world,” she says.

“Stormskerry Maja” will start shooting in October on Åland Islands. It will mark the biggest directorial outing for Lymi, also behind box office successes “Lapland Odyssey 3” and “Happier Times, Grump.”

“So far. Just wait,” she laughs. Adding it’s not the scale of the project that’s currently on her mind, but the weather.

“I like control, I like to know what I am doing, but I will have to improvise due to unpredictable weather conditions. Nature, beautiful and terrible at the same time, plays an important part in the film. It couldn’t be shot in some studio,” she says.

“It will make some decisions for me, but I have to go with the flow. Or with the wind: they will probably find me somewhere in Sweden.”

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