The film consists of two stories that by chance intersect at the forty-minute mark. The first one is about Khaled, a young Syrian refugee who has lost virtually all of his family. Almost by accident, he drifts to Helsinki as a stowaway passenger on a collier to seek asylum without great hopes for his future life. Wikström, the other protagonist, is a travelling salesman of about fifty (representing mainly men’s shirts and ties). In the beginning of the film he leaves his alcoholic wife and his profession and turns momentarily into a poker shark. With the small amount of money he thus gains he then buys an unprofitable restaurant at the far end of an inner court along a back street in Helsinki. When the authorities decide to return Khaled to the ruins of Aleppo he, just like many others, decides to stay illegally in the country and disappears into the streets of Helsinki. There he meets, besides various types of racism, also pure kindness. Finally Wikström finds our fellow sleeping in the inner yard of his restaurant. Perhaps he sees something of himself in the battered man because he hires Khaled as a cleaner and a dishwasher. For a moment life shows us its sunnier side, but fate soon intervenes and the film concludes with an open ending leading either to a respectable life or to the cemetery. For a person driven into a corner, both have their merits.
CAST & CREW
Aki Kaurismäki, Misha Jaari, Mark Lwoff, Reinhard Brundig
Director of Photography
Markku Pätilä, Aki Kaurismäki
Cast: Sherwan Haji, Sakari Kuosmanen, Ilkka Koivula, Janne Hyytiäinen, Nuppu Koivu, Kaija Pakarinen, Niroz Haji, Simon Hussein Al-Bazoon.
Sputnik Oy Oy Bufo Ab Pandora Film
After graduating in media studies from the University of Tampere, Aki Kaurismäki started his career as a co-screenwriter and actor in films made by his older brother, Mika Kaurismäki. Together they founded the production company Villealfa Filmproductions and later the Midnight Sun Film Festival. His debut as an independent director was Crime and Punishment (1983), an adaptation of Dostoyevsky's novel set in modern Helsinki. He gained worldwide attention with Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989). In 1989, he emigrated with his wife to Portugal, saying "in all of Helsinki there is no place left where I could place my camera". Kaurismäki's film Ariel (1988) was entered into the 16th Moscow IFF where it won the Prix FIPRESCI. Kaurismäki's most acclaimed film has been The Man Without a Past, which won the Grand Prix and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2002 Cannes IFF and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 2003. However, Kaurismäki refused to attend the Oscar ceremony, asserting that he did not feel like partying in a country that was in a state of war. Kaurismäki's next film Lights in the Dusk was also chosen to be Finland's nominee for best foreign-language film, but Kaurismäki again boycotted the awards and refused the nomination, in what he claimed was a protest against US President George W. Bush's foreign policy. In 2002, Kaurismäki also boycotted the 40th New York FF in a show of solidarity with the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who was not given a US visa in time for the festival. Kaurismäki's 2017 film The Other Side of Hope won the Silver Bear for Best Director award at the 67th Berlin IFF. At the same festival he also announced that it would be his last film as a director.
The Saimaa Gesture (1981, doc.), Unworthy (1982), Crime and Punishment (1983) Calamari Union (1985),Shadows in Paradise (1986), Rocky VI (1986, short), L.A. Woman (1987, short), Hamlet Goes Business (1987), Thru the Wire (short 1987), Rich Little Bitch (1987, short), Ariel (1988), Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989), Dirty Hands (1989, TV), The Match Factory Girl (1990), I Hired a Contract Killer (1991), La Vie de Bohème (1991), Those Were the Days (1991, short,), These Boots (1992, short), Total Balalaika Show (1993, doc.), Tatjana Tatjana, Take Care of Your Scarf (1994), Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (1994), Always Be Human (1996),Drifting Clouds (1996),Employment Agent (1996, short), Juha (1999),The Man without a Past(2002),Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (2002, segmnet Dogs Have No Hell), Visions of Europe (segment Bico, 2004) Lights in the Dusk(2006),To Each His Own Cuinema (segmentThe Foundry, 2007),Le Havre (2011),The Pieksämäki Railwaystation Blues (2012, doc.),The Other Side of Hope (2017).