Arto Halonen, born in 1964, has concentrated mainly on documentary film production, but has also written and directed fiction films and animated films. His breakthrough film was the fictionalized documentary Ringside (1992), which won the main prize at the Slovenian International Golden Shot and the Finnish State’s Quality Production Award 1993. The Happy Wedding Day, a TV feature comedy, was the third most watched film on YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, in 1993. his next fiction film was the critically acclaimed Home, produced for YLE in 1995. Stars’ Caravan (2000), shot in Kyrgyzstan, ended the award winning series of halonen’s Asia documentaries. The series included Karmapa – Two Ways of Divinity, which was set in Tibet, India and China, and won the humanitarian Award of the European Union, Karmapa – A Voyage on the Roof of the World and A Dreamer and the Dreamtribe, set in the Malaysian rain forest.
A series of four films set in Cuba began with The Tank Man (2004), which was named best documentary film at the Magma International Short Film Festival in Sicily. It was also presented with a Diploma of honor by the juries of the Krakow and Croix film festivals. Conquistadors of Cuba, directed and produced by Arto halonen, received cinema distribution in Finland in 2005. The series on “Cuban” films was rounded off with The Legend (2005), and Confrontations in Cuba (2007).
Pavlov’s Dogs had its world premiere at the Joris Ivens Competition at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The film received cinema distribution in Finland and Sweden in 2006. Pavlov’s Dogswon the honor Award at the FoxDays Festival 2006 (a festival for Finnish short and documentary films). In 2007, the film screened at the Documentary Fortnight at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
Halonen’s films have screened widely in cinemas, on TV, at film festivals and seminars in different parts of the world. Arto halonen is the founder of the DocPoint – helsinki Documentary Film Festival. From2001 to 2004 he was the festival director and artistic director of DocPoint. Between 2000-2003 he was also the chairman and a member of the board of the Finnish Documentary Guild. he was a member of the board of the Finnish Film Contact from 2001 until 2006. halonen worked as a regional artist of film and video arts in Northern Karelia between 1989-1993.
Arto Halonen has also produced films. The film Moonshine Village (directed by Jarmo Jääskeläinen and Auli Koponen) was completed in autumn 2005. In spring 2006, halonen produced The Tobacco Girls (directed by Tarja Mattila), which won international prizes at Leipzig, Lübeck, and Tampere. Another film produced by halonen, Lone Star Hotel (directed by Ari Matikainen), received cinema distribution in Finland in 2007.
Arto Halonen was awarded the Finland prize in 2005. The Prize is given in recognition of a notable artistic career and is a major acknowledgement and commendation by the Minister of Culture and the State. It was the first time that the award was granted to a documentary film director.