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Director's statement – by Zaida Bergroth

Tove Jansson – the ”Moominmamma”, the one that everybody knows, the one put on a pedestal. My impression of her has been this gray haired, wise, unnaturally calm and somehow untouchable human being. The more I have got to know her through the research and preparation, I have made for this film about her life, the more surprised I’ve become – this film will be anything but calm and predictable. Tove’s passion and energy, her strong emotions and how she expressed them and the fact that she was so unconventional; those were the things that surprised me the most.

Tove struggled with serious issues; she was aware of having a predisposition for depression, her relation to her father was complicated and the strenuous intimate relationships left their marks, but her positivity and her ability to always take other people into consideration and really understand them combined with how she looked for and appreciated light and joy, gives me inspiration and hope. These aspects I have wanted to include in the film about Tove. I wanted to depict Tove closely and sensitively and show as many surprising sides of her as possible, so that the audience understands how passionate and wild she was, how much she loved parties and love itself. This film tells about Tove’s life while celebrating courage and independence.

In Tove, we concentrate on Tove’s life in her thirties and beginning of forties. It starts during WWII and ends with her meeting Tuulikki, the love of her life. The core of the film is her quest to find herself as an artist, seen in the struggle between fine art and the creation of the Moomins, as well as the passionate love stories with Atos Wirtanen and Vivica Bandler. A cool and bohemian ”artist life” that inspired the world famous Moomin characters.

In my earlier films I have often depicted family relations and the search for one’s own identity and my main characters have often been quite different, rugged and unique. With Tove I once again deal with the same themes and characters that excite me, but this time around I especially enjoy Tove’s inspiring, rambunctious and positive company. Even though the events in her life were sometimes both painful and overwhelming, Tove kept her beautiful outlook on the world and the people in it. It is very comforting that such a wise and understanding person has lived such a wild and uncompromising life. I’m also excited to use my own knowledge in depicting Tove’s life: I’ve lived my childhood surrounded by artists - my mother is a painter and I’ve spent endless hours in her studio. I find it very exciting - and most of all important - to tell this story of an enormously talented and inspiring female artist who continues to have a huge impact on people all around the world.

Zaida Bergroth - Director's bio

Zaida Bergroth (born 1977) is a Finnish film screenwriter-director. Bergroth’s previous films (Maria´s Paradise, Miami, The Good Son, Last Cowboy Standing) have been screened at festivals including TIFF and have received awards at the Busan International Film Festival, at the Chicago International Film Festival and many others. TOVE is her fifth feature film as a director.