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Berlin


 

 
Reporting from Berlin on the 67th edition February 9 -19, 2017
Our team of festival ambassadors and reporters bring you the dailies from the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Market and keep an eye on past editions archives.

The 66th Berlin International Film Festival was held February 11 - 20, 2016 #berlinale Preview Newsletters 1 & 2 I Line Up issue I

Complete Coverage of 64 th edition with 173 articles
PREVIEW BERLINALE 2015 I  PREVIEW BERLINALE N°2 I OPENING BERLINALE  2015 NEWSLETTER MID BERLINALE 2015 NEWSLETTER I PRE AWARDSWRAP BERLINALE 2015 NEWSLETTER I Berlinale 2014 I 


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KAURISMĀKI'S THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE: A Laconic meditation on Islamic Immigration in Finland

BERLIN 2017, Getaway Day
by Alex Deleon <filmfestivals.com
Aki Kaurismäki center, flanked on either side by the two main actors of "The Other Side of Hope", Sherwan Haji and Sakari Kuosmanen, at the Berlin press conference for his latest film
 
Kaurismäki is not the kind of director's name that is likely to attract many customers to American cinemas but here in Germany his is a name to be reckoned with and any new Kaurismäki film is sure to be a sellout. This was the case, in fact, at every screening of his 2017 competition entry TOIVON TUOLLA PUOLEN --The Other Side of Hope -- (or maybe Hopelessness) -- which carries on his established one-man tradition of wry commentary on the lives of losers trying to survive on the underbelly of Helsinki.
In the present picture some of the losers are undocumented Islamic immigrants and others are local losers who either attack them or try to assist them in various floundering ways. 
The central character Khaled comes to Helsinki as a stowaway buried in coal on a boat he thought was going somewhere else. He then wanders the streets in blackface until directed to a public shower. He has been wandering all over Eastern Europe trying to find his sister, the last survivor beside himself of his Syrian family. He, of course, speaks no Finnish so has to communicate with Finns in English. Khaled keeps running into violent hostility alternating with poker faced kindness, but at last confides in another Arabic speaking buddy that he has fallen in love with Finland and wants to stay there. 
Eventually he will be taken in by a very oddball restaurant owner (Sakari Kuosmanen) given a menial job and supplied with false ID papers. Kaurismäki films are known for their dry humor but in this one it is so dry it almost evaporates. However, there is one scene that is simply rip roaring hilarious when the new inexperienced restaurant owner trying out various  schemes to increase business turns his eatery into a pseudo Sushi spot -- and the fumbling attempts by all of his help to look the part are as outrageously funny as any Marx Brothers classic. The climax of this sequence is reached when, having run out of the usual fresh salmon needed to top the sushi, the boss (Kuosmanen) decides in a pinch to use heavily salted Finnish herring sure that large gobs of hot Green Wasabi will cover up the strange taste. Most rib tickling. Especially if you understand the power of the Japanese version of mustard known as Wasabi!
It is almost on the other side of hope to attempt to describe a Kaurismäki film in words because the words his characters speak are so anti-logical, the events so implausible (By ordinary standards) and the story is largely conveyed by the images we see.  However, what is notable in this film is the apparent fairness with which the Finnish immigration authorities treat undocumented new arrivals along with totally illogical racism that is also found everywhere.
At the very end, our hero, Khaled from Damascus, (Sherwan Haji) is knifed by a sordid Finnish attacker who thinks he is killing a Jew! -- Aki's way of showing how stupid the indiscriminate hatred of diehard racists can be. What's the difference? -- Jew or Arab -- as long as there is somebody to hate. And knife ...
Khaled has found his long lost sister but the question we are left with is, will he live to tell the tale.
A title at the very end informs us that this film is dedicated to the memory of late Finnish critic, historian, and general filmology phenomenon Peter.von Bagh, who was a close friend of Aki's and passed away just two years ago. Mr. Von Bagh would certainly have loved it.
Aki, who is known to be a very heavy drinker, was quite sober at his press conference, but was apparently too loaded to take the stage and personally accept his Silver Bear for Best Director at the closing ceremony of this year's festival. In the context of standing Kaurismäki logic this makes perfect sense. 

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About Berlin

Chatelin Bruno

Berlin 2016: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Ole Schulz Lia Fietz, Aida Amasuno Martin, Martin Petrov and Bruno Chatelin...
Ambiance, film reviews, trailers and podcasts, EFM insider information, and much more.
Feel free to leave us your comments and share the blogs with more fans from the festivals scene.

 

October 30, 2015 Deadline for film entries for the festival (feature length films)
November 17, 2015 Deadline for film entries for the festival (short films)
January 6, 2016 Application deadline for accreditations
February 2, 2016 Programme Press Conference at the "Federal Press and Information Office"; access with invitation only
February 11, 2016 Opening Ceremony of the
66th Berlin International Film Festival
February 11-19, 2016 European Film Market
February 13-18, 2016 Berlinale Talents
February 14-16, 2016 Berlinale Co-Production Market
February 20, 2016 Closing & Award Ceremony of the
66th Berlin International Film Festival
February 21, 2016 Berlinale Publikumstag

 


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