Finland’s Free Skate star Veera W. Vilo discusses her film with Nordic Watchlist

Veera W.Vilo is the star of new Finnish film Free Skate which has had its cinema release in Finland.

We got to speak to Veera about the film and what to expect.

To start with, tell us a little bit about Free Skate and what the story is about.

Free Skate is a drama-thriller set in the figure skating world. It is a brave and unapologetic coming-of-age story of a figure skater who flees from Russia to Finland to escape her inhumane circumstances.

How did the idea for the story come to you?

I am an aesthetic group gymnastics world champion and world cup winner 2008. I’ve seen the behind the scenes of aesthetic sports. I was encouraged by other filmmakers to write a sports film while studying acting in the UK. The year was 2014. At the time there had just been a prostitution ring scandal in the Bolshoi ballet and that’s when the story started to form in my head.

Also, I had seen Black Swan some years back. I still had some work to do with healthy eating habits and obsessive-compulsive behaviour when the film came out and I felt sick coming out of the cinema, even though I also loved the film. So that film had an influence too.

We understand you wrote the film, starred in it, and also helped with the skating coordination is that right?

I am the lead actress, writer and producer of the film. I am also responsible for some of the choreographies in it. It is my passion project. We had Teea Siltanen who was the one who helped with the skating. She is also one of the producers of the film and a former synchronized skating world champion!

What were some of your influences in bringing this story to life?

It was my own experiences in the world of aesthetic sports as well as my friends’. Many of my friends are either former gymnasts, figure skaters or ballet dancers. In addition to these I’ve followed the news closely, I have heard tons of rumours and many people have shared their own stories with me. There are crazy elements in all of the stories (such as eating disorders and harsh training methods), and I felt an urge to talk about these issues.

What is next for Free Skate?

Free Skate will hit the Finnish cinemas on 21st of October and it will be released in North America and the rest of the Nordics in early 2023. Other countries will follow. Also, we have some interesting film festivals coming up.

What were the last film/TV show you watched, the album you listened to, and the book you read?

This is going to sound like a crazy bunch. The last film is the scandalous Blonde, the last album is The Bee Gees – Their Greatest Hits: The Record which I’ve listened to a thousand times, and the last book Disney Bunnies: I Love You My Bunnies for my kids. Last adult book was Risto Isomäki’s Ruoka, ilmasto ja terveys (translated Food, climate and health).

Free Skate Official Poster

We will keep you posted when Free Skate makes its way over to the UK

Interview by Alex Minnis