Finnish master Aki Kaurismaki (Best Director at Berlin Film Festival 2017) returns with his first feature in six years, a bittersweet comedy-drama.
Six years after the sublime, award-winning ‘Le Havre’, Aki Kaurismäki returns with the second film in a planned trilogy focusing on port cities. Kaurismäki regular Sakari Kuosmanen stars as Wikstrom, a poker-playing restaurateur and former travelling salesman who crosses paths with a Syrian refugee who has just arrived in Finland. Shot on 35mm in Helsinki by Timo Salminen, ‘The Other Side of Hope’ promises topicality and plaintive emotions as Kaurismäki tackles the most pressing of global issues: the plight of the refugee.
Going into a foreign language film like you are never quite sure what expect. The Finnish sense of humour, while transferrable does require a little adapting to in the early stages, but once tuned in I very quickly felt at ease and was utterly charmed by The Other Side Of Hope.
While the film is comedic, it's dramatic moments are also worthy of high praise. Having declared himself to be seeking asylum at a local police station Khaled (Sherwan Haji) is interviewed by a government official to check his eligibility. His story is heartbreaking and delivered with great emotion and authenticity that has a unexpected resonating impact.
The viewer is challenged to put themselves Khaled's position and a profound moment of silence at the story's conclusion challenges the audience to recognise that this is no work of fiction but a tragic reality for so many refugees.
Wikstrom (Sakari Kuosmanen) is a cantankerous grump of a man, who separated from his wife buys a run down restaurant with poker winnings and inherits a rag tag bunch of staff who provide much comic relief. Finding Khaled by the bins one day he takes him in, provides work, shelter and a rather odd bunch of co-workers/surrogate family. His acceptance of Khaled is heart warming, endearing and in many ways unexpected given his nature.
The Other Side of Hope serves as a wonderful wake up call to loving your neighbour and restores faith in humanity's ability to provide help to those in need without asking for anything in return. A timely film that everyone should see.
The Other Side Of Hope is scheduled for release on 26th May 2017.