Films past

Postponed — Maria’s Paradise /Marian paratiisi New Nordic Cinema: Female-Focused

Photo by Sami Kudkkanen

$12 ($7 ASF Members)
Series Pass $84 ($49 ASF Members)
110 minutes. In Finnish with English subtitles.

Orphaned at a young age, Salome is among the many devoted followers of Maria Åkerblom, a charismatic seer who claims that God visits her in her dreams. Living in a commune in a rural farmhouse, where she spends her days looking after the younger children in the cult, Salome has also never experienced life outside of their sheltered existence. But when one day she accompanies Maria on a trip to town, Salome meets Malin, an irreverent and cynical street girl who shares Salome’s motherless background. 

When Maline reaches out to Salome for help, the two develop a friendship that eventually brings her to the commune. When Maline quickly sees through Maria’s ruse, Salome is inspired to question her leader’s teachings for the very first time; and she must learn to choose between the promise of newfound freedom, and Maria’s dangerous all-consuming love.

An intense, intelligent, and often chilling study of cults based on a scandal that took place in Finland in the 1920s, Maria’s Paradise holds up a not-so-distant mirror to our own time, reminding us that demagoguery — whether religious, political, or often a twisted combination of the two — is still very much with us. Directed by Zaida Bergroth (Finland, 2019)


“A well-mounted, effective thriller-drama.”—CineVue

“Beguiling”—The Hollywood Reporter

“An intriguing, well-heeled period drama”—Screen Daily

About the Director

Zaida Bergroth was born in Finland and studied directing at Helsinki’s School of Motion Picture, Television and Production Design. 

She has directed the features Last Cowboy Standing (09), The Good Son (11), and Miami (17). Maria’s Paradise is her most recent film.


Kicking off in coordination with International Women’s Day in March, ASF highlights strong new Nordic cinema from female perspectives directed by women in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.