Paavo Westerberg

Paavo Westerberg is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, theatre and film director and actor. Westerberg has worked as a screenwriter for the feature films Princess (Prinsessa, 2010), Frozen City (Valkoinen Kaupunki, 2006) and Frozen Land (Paha Maa, 2005), as well as for the television drama Fragments (Irtiottoja, 2003). Westerberg has written and directed four plays which have premiered at the Finnish National Theatre: Possible Worlds (Mahdolliset Maailmat, 2016) They Don’t Live Here Anymore (He eivät asu enää täällä, 2012), The Lie (Valhe, 2010) and Home Before Dark (Kotiin ennen pimeää, 2006). His other plays include The Shore (Ranta, 2006) and Travelling Light (Matkalla Olevaa Valoa, 2001). Westerberg has directed Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya 2014 at the National Theatre and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman 2013 at the Oulu City Theatre.

Paavo Westerberg has won the Jussi Award for the Best Script in 2007 and 2006 for the films Frozen City and Frozen Land. Westerberg also wrote and directed the television drama Latent Heat (Jälkilämpö, 2010), which was nominated for the Prix Italia Award. Westerberg started his career in the beginning of the 1980’s. He was a very successful child actor in film and television and also in theatre. He graduated in 2000 with a Master’s Degree in Theatre Arts and currently lives in Helsinki. He is a resident playwright at the Finnish National Theatre.

In Development: White Hunger

White Hunger is a movie based on Aki Ollikainen’s successful novel (original publisher Siltala 2012, translation Peirene Press 2015) of the same name. The year it was released, White Hunger won the literature prize of Helsingin Sanomat and was the best selling debut novel in over a decade. The book has been translated to several languages, including Swedish, Danish, German, English, Turkish and Arabic. International medias including The Guardian, L.A. Book of Reviews and Daily Mail have written praising reviews of the book. The Independent listed it in their Top 10 Best Translated Fiction Books, and White Hunger was even a nominee for MAN Booker -prize, competing against two Nobelists.


Finland, 1867. It is late October, but already there is half a meter of snow on the ground. The temperature is below minus 20 degrees. If you’re outside, you have to keep moving all the time.
MARJA (32), the mother of MATALEENA (12) and JUHO (6) lives together with her husband JUHANI (36) in the countryside. They have a serious problem. All the cattle has died couple of months ago and now the grain storages are empty. They just don’t have any more food. As if this wouldn’t be bad enough, Juhani, the father, is sick. He is too weak to even move.

Marja needs to make the most difficult decision of her life. She decides to leave with the kids and leave the father behind. The door of their hut is left open. Marja tells to the kids that it would be more merciful that way. Marja and the children set out on a journey in the lethally cold winter. A quest for survival through snowbound forests to beg for food – perhaps from the next house, or the next village. And little by little, as they make their way, they find out that no-one has food anymore. Those who have are hardly willing to give, because they are afraid that otherwise they wouldn’t have enough for themselves. Marja and the children encounter cruelty, but also unexpected compassion. They confront the things man is prepared to do to survive.

Meanwhile in the Helsinki, a wealthy doctor TEO (31) also struggles with hunger – the hunger for love. He is a respected doctor, but he leads a double life. His brother LARS (34) works in the senate, that is considering emergency aid measures for the poor. But even Lars doesn’t know that Teo’s mind is occupied by CECILIA (24), a prostitute who Teo visits regularly. He is secretly smitten by her but is unable to act to win Cecilia for his own: he could never show himself in public with a woman like her.

Teo’s world turns upside down when Cecilia decides to travel to St. Petersburg with a rich businessman and Teo realizes that he may lose her forever…

Without knowing of each other, Marja and Teo both do their utmost in order to receive nourishment and love. Finally their stories meet in quite a surprising way.