Protagonist Pictures has come on board to handle worldwide sales on Dome Karukoski’s latest project Tom Of Finland, a drama about the life and times of iconic Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen. Aleksi Bardy wrote the screenplay for the film which tells the life story a man who would become known around the world by his nom de guerre “Tom Of Finland”.

The cast of the film will be announced during in Berlin. Production is due to start in the Spring in Gothenberg, Sweden. Laaksonen returns from home to Helsinki a hero after a harrowing and eventful military service in World War II, only to find himself persecuted in peace time for his homosexuality. He gets himself trapped in secret affairs and pressured to get married to a woman. He discovers refuge and liberation in his art, specialising in homoerotic drawings of muscular men in sexually uninhibited situations. Over the years, his work develops a worldwide following and helps fan the flames of a gay revolution in the USA.

“This is the story of a man ahead of his time, bravely standing up against a world virulently against his right to be who he was – a homosexual man with homosexual fantasies,” stated Karukoski. “The story shows how literally one person can create change in the world, even with something as simple as an artist’s tools.”

Bardy, Miia Haavisto and Annika Sucksdorff of Helsinki Film are producing the film. Gunnar Carlsson of Anagram Väst in Sweden, Miriam Nørgaard of Fridthjof Film in Denmark, and Ingvar Thordarson and Sophie Mahlo of Neutrinos Productions Germany will serve as co-producers, in collaboration with in Mike Downey and Sam Taylor of Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) UK.

“We would be delighted to work with Dome Karukoski on any film, but on a film portrait of the brilliant Tom Of Finland, it is especially exciting,” said Protagonist chief exec Mike Goodridge. “This is a film about an iconic and inspirational figure which will find audiences all over the world.”