TOM OF FINLAND

Running Time: 115 min

Dome Karukoski
Director

Finland
Country

Finnish
German
English

Languages

English
Subtitles

tof.fi
Film Website


FIPRESCI Prize: Director Dome Karukoski
Göteborg Film Festival

The erotic art of Tom of Finland (née Touko Laaksonen) is known for its hyper-masculine, uniformed and magnificently endowed men, usually engaged in blissful sexual activity. Lesser known is the life of the artist himself, from his secretive beginnings, closeted and sketching small postcards often dismissed as “fetish porn”, to international fame as an artist and an inspiration for gay liberation and queer leather culture.

After serving in the Finnish Army in World War II, Touko returned to study advertising in Helsinki. His wartime experiences not only informed and inspired his art but also gave him his first opportunity for sexual intimacy with other men. The homophobic culture of 1950’s Helsinki criminalized same-sex relationships, and the oppressive atmosphere forced Touko to hide his real artistic skills. Living with his intolerant sister, Kaija, Touko is smitten with her lodger, Veli, a handsome gay dancer. This new love empowers Touko to submit work to an American publisher, allowing his art to find acceptance in the United States, and from there worldwide fame as Tom of Finland.

In a solidly moving performance, lead actor Pekka Strang covers half a century of Tom’s life. Director Dome Karukoski and screenwriter Aleksy Bardy opt to let Tom’s work speak for itself and instead tell the story of the man behind the “dirty drawings” depicting his dreams of masculinity.
— Elisa McGovern
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