Finland, Croatia | 2013 | Feature Film

A Patriotic Man

Isänmaallinen mies

Toivo (Martti Suosalo), out-of-work man in his 50s, is not much of a physical specimen. Inside, however, he is a secret weapon. After a trip to the doctor, a technician discovers that Toivo’s blood naturally contains an extremely high amount of hemoglobin—the kind desired by athletes to boost performance. Plus, he is O-negative, the universal donor blood type.

Before long, the sad-sack Toivo is contacted by the Finnish Olympic Ski Team to tap his gold-medal blood supply. Though he initially refuses on moral grounds, officials ask him if he is a “patriotic man” who will do what he can for the ski-crazy nation. He is finally convinced by money and free cars—unquestioningly welcomed by his ambitious wife—and also to help the pretty, young Nordic skiing star, Aino (Pamela Tola). After some initial success, Toivo pays a heavy price for being used as the team’s “reserve tank.”

Set in the ’70s and ’80s, A Patriotic Man is fictional but based on actual Olympic scandals. Well-known documentary director Arto Halonen effectively dramatizes how blood-doping was an open secret used to gain an edge over the mighty Soviet and Eastern Bloc teams. The dark topic is leavened by Halonen’s light comic touches, exciting skiing sequences, and a sympathetic performance by Suosalo as a man torn between serving his country and listening to his conscience.

More info on:

Director Arto Halonen
Main Cast Martti Suosalo, Pamela Tola, Janne Reinikainen, Miko Kouki
Producer Mikko Tenhunen, Igor A. Nola
Production Co. Art Films (FI)
Co-Producer MP Film Production (HR)
Service Production Co. MP Film Production
Locations Region of Gorski kotar (Begovo Razdolje, Delnice), Zagreb

Filming in Croatia is a programme of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre