In 2005 Arto Halonen received the Finland Prize, the nation’s highest cultural award. He has also won the Humanitarian Award of the European Union, and is only the third filmmaker ever to receive the City of Helsinki Culture Prize. In 2008, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival gave Halonen its lifetime achievement award. The festival’s official statement described Halonen as one of the most important documentary filmmakers of his time, saying his work contributes to the development of documentaries on an international scale.
Princess: Halonen’s first fiction feature film for cinematic distribution, Princess, opened in September 2010. It received great reviews and became one of the most financially successful Finnish features of the last decade. It premiered internationally in competition at the World Film Festival in Montreal, and took the jury’s best actress award at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. It also won the Grand Prix for Best Film at the Cape Winelands Film Festival in South Africa, the Jury's Special Mention at the Festroia International Film Festival in Portugal, second prize in competition at Viareggio EuropaCinema in Italy, and the Best Feature Film Award at the Teaneck International Film Festival in the U.S. Partly due to the success of Princess, ArtoHalonen was given The Finnish National Mental Health Prize, and the Civil Action Prize of the Finnish Federation for Social Welfare and Health. Halonen also directed and co-wrote a new musical-theater version of Princess, which was an exceptional success on Finland´s second biggest theatre´s main stage from 2013–2014. The Hollywood company AMBI optioned the English-language remake rights for Princess with the intention of producing and financing the film.
Documentaries: Five of Halonen´s films have been selected for the world’s leading documentary film festival, the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), and three chosen for IDFA’s main Joris Ivens competition: Shadow of the Holy Book (2007), Pavlov’s Dogs (2006) and The Stars’ Caravan (2000). Shadow of the Holy Book was nominated for the European Film Academy’s award for best documentary of the year. Halonen’s documentaries have won many international festival prizes, and have been distributed in over 20 countries. In 2009, the European Film Academy invited him to join as a member. Halonen is the founder and first festival director of DocPoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival. During Halonen’s tenure, DocPoint became the biggest Nordic documentary film festival and one of the top documentary film festivals internationally. Halonen has also produced award-winning films by other directors. Halonen´s recent documentary film White Rage will be premiered in November 2015.
When Heroes Lie: Halonen’s two films deal with doping in cross-country skiing. He treated the subject first in his documentary feature When Heroes Lie. The film opened theatrically in October 2012 to overwhelmingly positive reviews, and raised an intense media discussion about doping, creating a large-scale debate on the subject in Finland, Estonia, Norway, Sweden and Italy. The film’s world premiere was at IDFA, and it was the opening film at the DocPoint Tallinn festival. It won the State Quality Award for 2013, and was a finalist for Finland’s 2013 Lumilapio Prize, which recognizes high-quality investigative journalism.
A Patriotic Man: The darkly comic feature A Patriotic Man, is also about doping. It had its theatrical premiere in Finland in December 2013, and continued the public doping discussion raised by When Heroes Lie. The film had cinematic distribution in Croatia in spring 2014 and in Estonia in January 2015.The film opened in Seattle Film Festivals in May 2014 and so far it´s distribution rights has been sold to 25 countries. Renowned US critic Harlan Jacobson chose the film for his prestigious Talk Cinema tour of major American cities for private subscribers. Audience reactions were highly favorable, as officially reported by Talk Cinema, and US critics have praised the film as well.
White Rage: Halonen's latest documentary feature received great reviews and positive media publicity. White Rage had it´s theatrical premiere on November 27th in 2015.
At the moment Halonen is also the co-producer of Macedonian-Croatian-Finnish feature fiction film Liberation of Skopje which is in post-production. Halonen is the CEO of his own production company, Art Films: www.artfilmsproduction.com.