Sofi Oksanen’s Stalin’s Cows to be made into TV series

Tuffi Films has acquired rights for the serialisation of the hit novel Stalin’s Cows by Sofi Oksanen. This is the first TV series based on Oksanen’s work.

Finnish Screenwriter Aino Kivi and Estonian Screenwriter Andra Teede will write the six-episode screenplay based on Oksanen’s best-selling novel. It is a story about Anna and her Estonian mother Katariina, about humanity under the pressure of the Iron Curtain, about shame and about slipping into the void between two motherlands.

Oksanen says: ’When I saw Aino Kivi’s dramatisation of Stalin’s Cows at the Joensuu City Theatre, I was astounded by Kivi’s talent, I am thrilled that she is now working on a TV series version of my novel.

My journey with Stalin’s Cows began already in 2018, and I am thankful that I can still continue it. The novel is remarkable, and it feels even more topical now than it did when it was first published.’ The screenwriter Kivi rejoices.

Stalin’s Cows will be the most important international television series ever filmed about the complicated history of Estonia. Oksanen has done an amazing job of writing in one book about the troubling times of the Stalin repressions of the 1940s, the joyless life of the deep Soviet Union of the 1970s and the ramifications of all this in the lives of the young Estonians in Finland in the 2000s. Today, when Estonian and Finnish relations are more tense than they have been for a while, it is important to remember the history of the neighbouring countries and the freedom and prosperity that Finland has always represented to Estonians. Stalin’s Cows is a story of how some suffering play a role in our psyche even generations later. I am very proud to be a part of writing this series and hope to bring my own family’s stories into this very promising work of art’, says Teede.

The Producers Venla Hellstedt and Elli Toivoniemi comment: ’Oksanen’s novel is a fantastic piece of literary art, and we at Tuffi Films aim to make an ambitious and darkly humourous TV series of this story, that is harrowing and painful in many ways.

Kivi is a Finnish Theatre Director, Dramaturg and Writer. She has written the theatre play version of Stalin’s Cows for the Joensuu City Theatre. Teede is an Estonian Screenwriter and Poet. The series is a story about an Estonian Anna, living in Finland, through her we delve deep into the life in Estonia, Stalin’s persecutions and Soviet Estonia. Stalin’s Cows will be produced by Hellstedt and Toivoniemi, the Estonian co-producer is Madis Tüür. The Finnish Film Foundation has supported the development of the series.

In this astonishing debut by a writer equipped with a rare storytelling genius, the lives of three women of different generations and societies – grandmother, mother, and daughter – serve as the uniting force of a highly unusual and powerful, epic narrative. In depicting the lives of Sofia, Katariina and Anna, whose stories unfold within communist Estonia, capitalist Finland, or both, Oksanen lets the entire 20th century flash before our eyes – while retaining a loving but firm grip on her characters and the bond between them.

Stalin’s Cows is Oksanen’s inexorable showdown with hypocrisy – the power of shame and feeling second-class, the harsh division between East and West, and the impossible feat of being a woman.