Boom and professionalisation
The university began to grow into its full size in the 1980s. In 1981, it became possible to complete a licentiate degree in art, and, a few years later, completing a doctoral degree also became an option. The University of Art and Design Helsinki moved from Ateneum to Teollisuuskatu 19 in 1982, and, some years later, film education moved to Pursimiehenkatu in Punavuori.
In the 1980s, the Finnish film industry, along with film education, started becoming increasingly professional when a distinct generational renewal took place after the political years. The new teachers were able to convey to the students their professional pride and ambition regarding their instrument.
The rise of Finnish film in the 1980s and 1990s took partly place outside the university due to, for example, the success of the Kaurismäki brothers, who had completed their studies elsewhere. Although new energy and initiatives may have come from outside the school, ELO still played an important role in the industry. Practically all productions and working groups involved graduates of the university, and various skills were rapidly merged. In addition, the boom period had a concrete impact on the possibilities of making films. Loans for productions were easily available, there were plenty of advertising jobs, and so on. It brought general prosperity to the industry and the entire operating environment grew strongly.
Upswing of the Finnish film
In 2000 the film school moved to Media Centre Lume, an extension of The University of Art and Design Arabia campus.
In the 1990s, the total number of viewers of all Finnish films was less than 200,000; however, the numbers turned into millions in the 21st century. The Finnish film boom of our millennium is the result of top-quality education. Today, both filmmakers and other operators in the field are, to a large extent, ELO graduates.
The new rise of Finnish film was accelerated by the Finnish Film Foundation’s policy, stating that instead of hard-to-grasp art films, movies would now be viewed as easily approachable cultural products. This meant supporting films that the audience would love. Alongside the all-mighty auteur director, other professionals now emerged, and the appreciation for screenwriting, for example, is a pan-European phenomenon. In addition, Finnish documentaries also began to gain international success.
In 2010, the University of Art and Design Helsinki merged with Helsinki University of Technology and the Helsinki School of Economics into Aalto University. The latest massive change for ELO was the move from the Arabia Campus to Otaniemi. After many years, the process culminated in the commissioning of the Väre building in autumn 2018. Today, ELO is performing well in European-level comparison and doing a lot of pioneering work and interesting experiments, and the works of ELO students are doing extremely well in competitions. The role of ELO in the industry is larger than its size.
What about the future? According to Raija Talvio, ’the entire field needs to discover a balance between popular movies and art film and find answers to various resource questions. It is also important to consider who gets to tell their story and whose voice remains in the margins. We are heading towards even greater diversity, and it is exactly as it should be!’