A conversation with Michael Franck, a social justice filmmaker


I have known Michael Frank for almost thirty five years and I met him for the first time in Finish embassy in Tehran, when I was receiving my visa to attend the Tampre Film Festival as a jury member. Michael just rushed to meet me as I was the first person in Iranian film industry he had encountered. I found Michael s young msn full of energy and love for people, Back then I could not imagine that later we will get involved in a few projects and become close friends.

Lately I had the opportunity of interviewing Michael Franck on camera about his work as a social justice filmmaker: (Bijan Tehrani)

Michael Franck is an internationally awarded documentary filmmaker, who has directed and produced more than 150 documentaries and fact programmed for TV-networks. His films main focus are on Finnish and Nordic culture, political history and entrepreneurship and future living conditions seen from a scientific perspective. Many of his films also feature sociology-political and human bridge building in the Middle East, where his family has been working and living for three generations. Many of his films have been shown also internationally. Both in Europe, the US and in the Middle East, where hos family has lived and worked already for three generations.

Between 1989 and 1995 he lived and worked as producer in Hollywood, where he together with professionals from both this leading entertainment community, Iran and Scandinavia, was developing the major animated film “Sindbad. Due to the crash of the economy in his home country Finland in the early 1990-as, this project could not be completed. During this time in Los Angeles, he also participated in Rand Corporation´s Middle East and Central Asia Studies Group.

Michael Franck’s and his production company´s awards and nominations include both Finnish and international recognition:

Telvis Award for Best Documentary Film for “Soldiers of the Prophet” (filmed in Iran in the early 1980s),

Finnish Fox Prize for Best Documentary for “A Tale of Two Soldiers” (filmed in Lebanon in 1987- 88),

Nomination for Best European Documentary in Lyon 1988 for the film “A Deadly Pace”

The Cine Golden Eagle Award in Chicago,

Finnish Government Quality Award 1990 – both for “Heart of the Warrior”  (co-produced with Stephen Peck, and filmed in 1989-1990 in the US, USSR, Vietnam and Afghanistan)

Media and Message Award (2004) for Franck Media´s entrepreneurship and family business series,

Honorary Prize for 100 years of Finnish labor skills and craftsmanship (2012)

Two Life Science Film Festival Awards in Prague (2016) for Franck Media´s Finland Future -series.

During his professional carrier he has interviewed several heads of state in The Nordic region and the Middle East as well as western dignitaries such as George Soros, Rupert Murdoch and Jean-Claude Trichet, former President of the European Central Bank.

Michael Franck´s recently published documentary, featuring the 100 years history of Finland´s orden tradition, including also his interview with current President Sauli Niinistö and former president Tarja Halonen, was published and screened first time on Finlands Independence day December 6, 2019, on the Finnish public television channel YLE TV 1.

Currently he and his team has several documentary films in production through his and his family team´s production companies Franck Doc and Parad Fakta, including the story of the legendary Finnish Student Union, that came to be a base for the country´s globally known education system, and Michael Franck´s film portrait “My Godfather and Kekkonen” featuring the controversial Finnish cold war time pro western parliamentarian George C. Ehrnroothswho, was the documentation´s own godfather. The film opens a historic perspective on the cold war time in Finland, and the rule of the country´s long time President Urho Kekkonen, and his way of ruling the country, next door to Soviet Union.

In pre-production are several documentaries featuring interesting personalities, including a filmic portrait of African American artist Howard Smith (90), who arrived in Finland in the early 60 -ies and came to be “the softener of Finland´s strict modernism. Smith´s base home in Finland has since the last 20 years been the artist community in the mill village of Fiskars, where also Michael Franck has his family roots and a home.

Michaels both older sons; awarded documentary filmmaker Arthur Franck and producer Edvin Franck, also works with their fathers different documentary projects.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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