Directed by Dome Karukoski, the film follows Touko Laaksonen, a decorated officer, as he returns home to Finland after fighting for his country in World War II. But life during peacetime proves just as distressing as his time on the battlefields in Europe. Laaksonen finds Helsinki rampant with persecution of homosexuals and sees many men around him pressured to marry women and have children. Touko finds refuge in his art, specializing in homoerotic drawings of muscular men, free of inhibitions. His work made famous by his signature ‘Tom of Finland’ became the emblem of a generation of men and fanned the flames of a gay revolution.
London-based sales company Protagonist and Nordic outfit Helsinki Filmi have unveiled the first teaser of Dome Karukoski’s anticipated “Tom of Finland,” a biopic about groundbreaking Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen aka. Tom of Finland.
A pioneering figure in late 20th-century gay culture, Laaksonen faced oppression and homophobia during his youth and found escapism through art. His most famous homoerotic drawings depicted stylized, over-muscled masculine bodies dressed in leather.
Over the course of four decades, Laaksonen produced some 3500 illustrations.
Laaksonen’s drawings of bikers and leathermen capitalized on the leather and denim outfits which differentiated those men from mainstream culture and suggested they were untamed, physical, and self-empowered.
“Touko Laaksonen lived in a time when the laws and norms of the society tried to deny him the right to be himself. His story is an indication how a man can change the world with only the artists’ tools as ammunition,” Karukoski has said.
“It’s impossible to overstate the impact Tom’s work has had on the image and self-image of gay men all over the world. He created the archetypes that now form an integral part of the iconography of popular culture, both gay and straight,” Aleksi Bardy, producer and partner at Helsinki-filmi, told Variety when announcing the project.
Currently in the final days of editing, “Tom of Finland” will be theatrically released in February 2017.