The Other Side Of Hope
Finland’s master of deadpan comedy, Aki Kaurismäki (Lights in the Dusk, Le Havre), returns with the story of an unlikely friendship between a Syrian asylum seeker and a middle-aged Finnish restaurant owner. Winner of the Berlin Silver Bear for Best Director, it’s a beautiful, timely film from one of the world’s leading auteurs. Khaled (Sherwan Haji) arrives at the port of Helsinki concealed in a coal container, fleeing war-torn Syria to seek asylum in Finland. Dazed and frustrated by the monolithic administration he encounters at the detention centre, he makes a break for it and heads out onto the streets. There he meets Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), a former shirt salesman who has recently left his alcoholic wife for a new life as a bachelor restaurateur. Together, they help each other to navigate the adversities they face in these unfamiliar and often baffling new worlds. With hilarious sight gags, poker-faced one liners and a toe-tapping rockabilly soundtrack, Kaurismäki’s latest balances his unparalleled wit with a pressing critique of the unforgiving bureaucracy that greets vulnerable asylum seekers in modern-day Europe. Humane and sincere, it’s proof of cinema’s power to tell stories that matter, with beauty and heart.