EXCLUSIVE: It was a good Toronto Film Festival for Finnish helmer Dome Karukoski. His Heart Of A Lion premiered earlier this month at the fest, and during the run of the event he was tapped to make his English-language debut on Tom Of Finland. All of that action got the major agencies interested, and he just inked with ICM Partners. Heart Of A Lion, written by Aleksi Bardy, centers on the head of a gang of racist skinheads who finds himself questioning his personal prejudices and values after falling for a waitress whose son is of African descent. It bows next month in Karukoski’s native Finland. Tom Of Finland is the biopic of Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, who revolutionized the image of gay men, paved the way for greater tolerance and openness, and influenced designers like Tom Ford and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Casting on the Helsinki-filmi pic is expected to be announced early next year. Among the helmer’s other credits is Lapland Odyssey, a comedy that topped the Finnish box office in 2010 and won Best Film, Best Direction, Best Script and The People’s Choice Award at the 2011 Jussi Film Awards (Finland’s equivalent of the Oscars). Karukoski continues to be repped by Laura Munsterhjelm at Actors In Scandinavia and Richard Cook at The Lisa Richards Agency in the UK.

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