Everyone knows the iconic, stylistic art of Tom of Finland, but hardly any know the story of the man behind it.
Touko Laaksonen, a decorated officer, returns home after a harrowing and heroic experience serving his country in World War II, but life in Finland during peacetime proves equally distressing. He finds peace-time Helsinki rampant with the persecution of the homosexual men around him, even being pressured to marry women and have children. Touko finds refuge in the drawing of homoerotic images, always exposed to the danger of a criminal prosecution, which deals rigorously with gays. Under the pseudonym Tom of Finland, his art finally takes on a triumph. The artist not only sparked the “gay revolution” but also became the symbolic figure of a whole generation of young men.
The award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski, in the exciting Biopic TOM OF FINLAND, not only tells about the life and work of the most influential figure of the gay culture of the 20th century but also brings a touching story about true love and the right to personal freedom on the screen.
TOM OF FINLAND captures the fascinating cinematic portrait of the Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, who had to go a long way to his international breakthrough. After the Second World War, Touko (Pekka Strang) returns to his dark and backward native country of Finland. He lives with his sister Kaija (Jessica Grabowsky). Although the siblings are very close, Kaiya does not know that her brother is gay, because homosexuality is illegal. Touku can neither love freely nor realize himself. Despite the perpetual danger of a rigorous prosecution, he begins to draw pictures of unbridled, free and proud gay men for himself and his friends. While working in an advertising agency, Touko falls in love with the dancer Veli “Nipa” Mäkinen (Lauri Tilkanen) – both must keep their relationship secret for a long time. Veli encourages Touko to offer his works. Finally, his art under the pseudonym “Tom of Finland” – with a detour via Berlin – from Los Angeles its triumph. It sparked a revolution and became the symbolic figure of a whole generation of young gay men.
TOM OF FINLAND opened the Gothenburg Film Festival in 2017 and won the FIPRESCI Prize there. The film celebrated its Germany premiere at the Filmfest München.