By Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor
Christmas Story, a film from Finnish director Juha Wuolijoki, is on its way to become a sensation in the United States, after winning the Bombay Sapphire Audience Award for Best International Film at the Sarasota Film Festival, which just concluded this past weekend. The film had previously won a Best Cinematography prize at the Jussi Awards, the Finnish Oscar.
The film recounts the tale of Santa Nikolas, better known to the world as Santa Klaus, the legendary giver of gifts at Christmas time. The story begins hundreds of years ago in a remote corner of snowy Lapland, when a little boy loses his family in an accident. The villagers decide to look after the orphaned boy together. Once a year - at Christmas - Nikolas moves to a new home. To show his gratitude, Nikolas decides to make toys for the children of the families as good-bye presents. Over the years, Nikolas's former adoptive families become many, and soon almost every house has presents on its doorstep on Christmas morning. Eventually, this gift-giving broadens and Nikolas comes up with a solution that brings all the children all over the world presents every Christmas morning, a tradition that continues to this day.
With Santa Klaus a part of every culture, the family film’s potential is huge. The film was produced by Snapper Films Oy and television network MTV3 in Finland, with additional funding from Canal Plus, the MEDIA Programme of the European Union and local Finnish fund Suomen Elokuvasäätiö. The film is being sold internationally by Delphis Films and will be released in the United States by Warner Home Video, which will release it in a dubbed version in English. Its universal story could make it a holiday favorite and one of the most profitable European films for years to come.