Teuvo Tulio, born Theodor Tugai (1912–2000) is one of the most fascinating personalities of Finnish cinema. Tulio's films are extremely melodramatic and emotional. For example the most famous contemporary Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki has named Teuvo Tulio as one of his idols. Teuvo Tulio had very exotic appearance, and he was call "Finland's Valentino". Not many people know that in fact Tulio's roots were in eastern Latvia.
Theodor Tugai had multicultural Turkish-Polish-Persian–Latvian roots. Her mother came from small village called Skerpenieki, close to the town of Rezekne in eastern Latvia. He spent his childhood with his grandparents in Latvia but moved later to Helsinki with his mother, when she remarried with a Finnish man. Tugai became a Finnish citizen and changed his name to Teuvo Tulio. Later he spoke in many occasions very warmly about his childhood in Skerpenieki.
With the exception of one comedy, all of Tulio's 16 films are melodramas. He began his career in the 1920s as an actor and became producer–director in the 1930s. His most famous films were Nuorena nukkunut, Silja – Fallen Asleep When Young (1937), Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta, Song of the Bloodred Flower (1938), Rakkauden risti, The Cross of Love (1946) and Intohimon vallassa, In the Grip of Passion (1947). Already the names tell a lot about the films!
Helsinki City Art Museum and the Finnish Film Archive (SEA) have produced an exhibition which presents more than 60 photographs and stirring excerpts and trailers of Tulio's films. In summer 2004 the exhibition was brought to Latvia, Rezekne as a Latvian-Finnish cooperation projects. Also, two of Tulio's films were shown in the City Hall of Rezekne. It was the biggest cultural project the Embassy of Finland in Latvia organized in 2004. The exhibition became very popular and interest was great in Rezekne and Latgale area. One could say that Teodor Tugai once again returned back home!