Pansio harbour charmed the film stars


Through the eyes of film-makers, the port milieu with shady warehouses and beautiful boats is a nearly perfect shooting location for an action film. Pansio harbour had the honour to act as a key scene for a new film in the Vares film series.

Unusual rattling was heard in early May in a sheet metal hall in Pansio harbour which is part of the Port of Turku. Private detective Jussi Vares (Leo Sjöman) was on the tracks of criminals. The result was an action scene that also involved the characters played by actors Ilona Chevakova, Kalle Lamberg and Jasper Pääkkönen.

“The new Vares movie has been eagerly awaited. Except for Jasper Pääkkönen, we now have an entirely new cast, a new director, and new casting,” says Ilona Chevakova.

“I can’t reveal more about the plot yet, but I can say that I’m one of the baddies in the film”, Ilona tells.

Having also starred in international films, Ms Chevakova was surprised by the location provided by the Pansio harbour where one of the key scenes of the film was shot.

“I have never before made a film in such a fine location. Where can you find these places?”

Not much need for props

One of the people to be thanked for putting the Pansio harbour on the movie map is local organiser Sini Sarlin who contacted Antti Pekanheimo, Operative Director of Port of Turku Ltd while scouting for shooting locations.

“Things turned out fine with the Port of Turku. Harbour Master Teemu Aaltonen came to introduce the facilities with a bundle of keys. I noticed at once that the Pansio harbour had the right kind of character. It’s suitably shady. We shot a lot in authentic locations, and there was not much need for props”, Sini says.

Solar Films Oy made a rental agreement with the Port of Turku, and permissions were asked and received from the owners of the boats shown in the film. A battered van driven by the crooks was provided by Jarkko “Jakke” Suonpää from Turku. He represents car club Rakki CC whose 15 gorgeous vintage American cars were seen in an earlier Vares film called Sheriffi.

Leo Sjöman, who plays Vares, has personal experience from his youth in the underworld.
Starring Sjöman

The main character Vares himself, played by Leo Sjöman, was also very happy with the Pansio harbour.

“I am a seaman after all”, Mr Sjöman jokes about his surname.

The high point of Leo’s seaman life took place as a child when he was boating with his parents in the Turku archipelago.

“I have warm memories from Turku. Last autumn I spent ten weeks here when we were shooting the Vares TV series.”

Leo is excited about the new Vares film and thanks Solar Films producer Markus Selin for believing in him to play a classic character of Finnish cinema.

A cinematic port

Pansio district was already familiar to Mr Selin, often referred to as the goldfinger of Finnish film. Six previous Vares films have been shot there, one of them also in the Pansio harbour.

“The Pansio harbour is cinematic. The setting is great: there are robust, worn out buildings and more stylish new ones. A little rust does no harm”, long-bearded Markus says.

Teija Raninen, Film Commissioner of West Finland Film Commission, remembers a number of films shot in the Port of Turku. One example is Bayoneta which told the story of a Mexican boxer who fled to Finland.

“Last year film productions brought 4.9 million euros to Turku. The shooting of the Vares film has proceeded fine in Pansio”, Teija says.

Part of Business Turku, the Film Commission assists film-makers by providing subsidies and also helps with shooting locations and permits, and has a list of around 200 freelancers.

Turku-based parkour athletes Ville Leppänen and Julius Brander performed the spectacular stunt jumps for Vares and Kyypakkaus during the chase scene.

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Text & video: Sari Järvinen
Photos: Marjo Saviranta

Vares X

  • Based loosely on Reijo Mäki’s book Kolmijalkainen mies
  • Screenplay: Satu Rasila and Akseli Kouki
  • Directed by: Tuukka Temonen
  • Actors: Leo Sjöman, Jasper Pääkkönen, Kalle Lamberg, Olga Temonen, Jenni Kokander, Mikko Töyssy, Pelle Heikkilä, Aku Sipola, Kreeta Salminen, Tom Petäjä, Sara Soulié, Satu Silvo, Mikko Kouki and Ilona Chevakova.
  • Premiere in autumn 2024