Aki Kaurismäki

04.04.1957

 

Director
Kaurismäkiis a Finnish producer, screenwriter and director. He has directed many diverse films, from road movies and film noir to (post)modern adaptations of literary works. Nevertheless, he has always maintained his own unique blend of irony laced with empathy and a sense of absurdity. He went to film school in Munich, and before founding the production and distribution company Villealfa (the name is an homage to Goddard’s film Alphaville) with his older brother Mika Kaurismaki, he worked as a postman, dishwasher, film critic… The first film produced by Villealfa was Liar (Valehtelija, 1981), directed by Mika and co written and starring Aki (in the role of Ville Alfa). In 1983, Aki made his first feature film, Crime and Punishment (Rikos ja rangaistus), the adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novel. He made several other literary adaptations, such as Hamlet Goes Business (Hamlet liikemaailmassa, 1987), Bohemian Life (La vie de boheme, 1992) and Juha (1999). He is the founder of Leningrad Cowboys, (“the worst rock'n'roll band in the world”), and made two of his most famous films about them: Leningrad Cowboys Go to America (1989) and the sequel Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (1994). He made a documentary about their concert in Helsinki together with the Red Army’s dance ensemble Total Balalaika Show (1994). In his “proletariat trilogy”, consisting of Shadows in Paradise (Varjoja paratiisissa, 1986), Ariel (1988) and The Match Factory Girl (Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö, 1990), he deals with the working class’ problems. The last part of his career so far has been characterized by the “Finnish trilogy”: Drifting Clouds (Kauas pilvet karkaavat, 1996), The Man Without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä, 2002) and Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin valot, 2006), which is his last film to date. In all his films, Kaurismäki is the screenwriter and producer and Timo Salminen is almost always the director of photography.

Filmography

Filmography:
Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin valot, 2006)
Visions of Europe (2004) (segment Bico)
Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (2002) (segment Dogs Have No Hell)
The Man Without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä, 2002)
Juha (1999)
Drifting Clouds (Kauas pilvet karkaavat, 1996)
Total Balalaika Show (1994) (documentary/musical)
Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (1994)
Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana (Pidä huivista kiinni, Tatjana, 1994)
La vie de boheme (Bohemian Life, 1992)
I Hired a Contract Killer (1990)
The Match Factory Girl (Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö, 1990)
Dirty Hands (Likaiset kädet, 1989) (TV)
Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989)
Ariel (1988)
Hamlet Goes Business (Hamlet liikemaailmassa, 1987)
Shadows in Paradise (Varjoja paratiisissa, 1986
Calamari Union (1985) - Feature film, 84 min
Crime and Punishment (Rikos ja rangaistus, 1983)
The Saimaa Gesture (Saimaa-ilmiö, 1981) (documentary/musical)


Films by this director

Crime and punishment

(Rikos ja rangaistus, Finland, 1983)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

This is a film adaptation of Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment set in modern Helsinki. Antti Rahikainen is a former law student who now works in a slaughterhouse. One day he enters an apartment and murders a businessman in cold blood. Immediately after the murder, Eeva shows up at the apartment and, instead of calling the police, advises Antii to run.

color, 93'

Calamari Union

(Finland, 1985)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

Seventeen men all named Frank and one named Pekka roam the streets of Helsinki. Their destination is the suburbs Eira, close to the sea. After their departure on this adventure each will face his own destiny: one is killed, another vanishes… Will anyone reach their destination?

b/w, 81'

Shadows in Paradise

(Varjoja paratiisissa, Finland, 1986)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

This is Kaurismäki’s third film and the first part of his “working-class trilogy” (the other two are Ariel and The Match Factory Girl). The leading actors are Matti Pellonpää and Kati Outinen: he is Nikander, a kindly garbage man who constantly gets in trouble and she is Ilona, an unlucky cashier in a supermarket. The two of them start an affair and finally get some hope and optimism in their lives.

color, 74'

Hamlet Goes Business

(Hamlet liikemaailmassa, Finland, 1987)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salmimem
Synopsis:

This is Kaurismäki’s comical version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, set in the modern day business world. Hamlet is a spoiled rich Don Juan who, after his father’s death, inherits a position on the Management board of a company that wants to enter the rubber duck market. The ghost of Hamlet’s father soon appears to him and reveals the real cause of his death.

b/w, 87'

Ariel

(Finland, 1988)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

After the mine gets closed down, former miner Taisto puts on his sunglasses and drives away to Helsinki in his white Cadillac in search of a better life. Soon he finds a job and moves in a new apartment with his girlfriend, but the police accuse him of a crime he did not commit. In prison he dreams about a better life outside of Finland, but even after he escapes from prison his bad luck does not change.

color, 72'

Leningrad Cowboys Go America

(Finland, Sweden, 1989)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

This is a road movie that follows the Leningrad Cowboys, a group of eight (actually, the guitarist is a frozen body) Finnish musicians who, together with their manager, decide to go to America and begin their music career there. Hoping for immediate glory and fortune in the Promised Land, they buy an old Cadillac (Jim Jarmusch has a cameo role as the salesman) and begin their tour across America.

color, 79'

The Match Factory Girl

(Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö, Finland, Sweden, 1990)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

This is the third part of Kaurismäki’s “working-class trilogy”, made after Shadows in Paradise (Varjoja paratiisissa, 1986) and film Ariel (1988). The main character is Iiris, an assembly line worker in a match factory who lives with her strict and cold parents. Her drab routine is interrupted by a new red dress and a short romance. But after she gets hurt and becomes hopeless again, she decides it is time for revenge.

color, 69'

I Hired a Contract Killer

(Finland, Sweden, Germany, France, UK, 1990)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

Henri, lonely French emigrant and victim of privatization is retiring and gets a false gold watch as a present for the occasion. He is desperate because he unsuccessfully tries to commit suicide and finally decides to hire a professional hit man to kill him. He spends all his life savings on the hired hit man and while waiting for his death, he meets a florist, Margaret, and falls in love with her.

color, 79'

Bohemian Life

(La vie de boheme, Finland, France, Sweden, Germany, 1992)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

The story takes place in Paris where three bohemians live: Marcel, a poet without a publisher, Rodolfo, an Albanian painter without a visa and Schaunard, a postmodernist composer. Living in poverty and constantly hungry, the three friends are forced to help each other and rely on their resourcefulness. Under such harsh conditions the love between Marcel and Musette and Rodolfo and Mimi endures many trials.

b/w, 103'

Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana

(Pidä huivista kiinni, Tatjana, Finland, Germany, 1994)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

Two friends, mechanic and alcoholic Reino and coffee-addict Valto who just ran away from his dominant mother, go for a drive. On the way they pick up two hitchhikers, the skinny Estonian, Tatjana, and a bigger Russian, Klavdia. Although there is a language barrier separating them, the girls become interested in the two boys. However, the clumsy and scared Valto and Reino just don’t know how to approach the girls.

b/w, 62'

Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses

(1994)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

This is the sequel to Leningrad Cowboys Go to America, in which we follow the band’s return from Mexico to Russia. Musical success in Mexico is interrupted when they learn about the local specialty: tequila. Members of the band who avoided tequila overdose hang around Mexico until they decide to play at a gig on Coney Island. There they meet their manager, a guy who calls himself Moses!

color, 35 mm, 94 min

Total Balalaika Show

(1994)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Heikki Ortamo
Synopsis:

This film shows the concert held for 70,000 people on Helsinki’s main square in June 1993. The performers included Leningrad Cowboys and the dance ensemble Red Army, that performed rock'n'roll classics and Russian folk songs such as Happy Together (The Turtles), Delilah (Tom Jones), Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan), Finlandia, Volga Boatmen.

color, 35 mm, 54 min

Drifting Clouds

(Kauas pilvet karkaavat, Finland, Germany, France, 1996)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

Ilona is a waitress and her husband a tram driver. Even though they have lost a child recently they both seem happy and at peace with their lives. Soon they both get fired and they are forced to look for any kind of a new job. These new circumstances will test their marriage.

color, 96'

Juha

(Finland, Germany, France, 1999)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

This film is Kaurismäki’s homage to silent films that follows a love triangle story between a woman and two men. A happy marriage between a farmer, Juha, and his wife Marja gets interrupted by the arrival of the town’s newest Don Juan (and crook) Shemeikka…

b/w, 78'

The Man Without a Past

(Mies vailla menneisyyttä, Finland, Germany, France, 2002)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

M., a middle aged man, has just arrived to Helsinki and immediately gets robbed and brutally beaten. He wakes up with amnesia. Because he does not remember anything he roams the streets and tries to build himself a new life among the homeless and other socially “invisible” groups of people. This film was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Foreign Film in 2002 and it won the jury’s award and the award for Best Actress (Kati Outinen) in Cannes.

color, 97'

Lights in the Dusk

(Laitakaupungin valot, Finland, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, 2006)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

Koistinen is a night guard in a Helsinki shopping center and his days are routine. He has no luck or experience with women, even though Aila, salesgirl at a sausage-stand that Koistinen often visits, is interested in him. Koistinen’s routine will be interrupted the arrival of Mirja, a femme fatale with dishonest motives. Koistinen immediately gives in to Mirja’s charms.

color, 78'

The Other Side of Hope

(Toivon tuolla puolen, Finland, Germany, 2017)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

Sirijac Khaled čovjek je podrijetlom iz Alepa, koji je nakon pogibije čitave obitelji, osim mlađe sestre Miriam, krenuo u izbjeglištvo, da bi nakon putovanja izbjegličkom rutom kroz Europu pod hrpom ugljena u jednom teretnom brodu stigao u Finsku. Svi članovi Khaledovi obitelji, osim sestre, poginuli su od projektila za koji on ne zna tko ga je ispalio, vojska Islamske Države, američka vojska ili netko treći. Kad dospije u centar za prihvat migranata, on će službenicima izložiti svoju i p...

color, 100'

Le Havre

(Finland, France, Germany, 2011)

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
PHOTOGRAPHY: Timo Salminen
Synopsis:

Sredovječni Marcel Marx ulični je čistač cipela generalno zadovoljan svojim životom. Nekoć je bio pisac i boem koji se u Parizu pokušavao afirmirati, no onda se dragovoljno doselio u lučki grad Le Havre, gdje se oženio dobrodušnom Arletty te s njom započeo novi, miran život. Marcelovu jednostavnu svakodnevicu ispunjavaju posao, za koji smatra da je najbliži ljudima nakon onog pastirskog, skladan život s Arletty, druženje s kućnim ljubimcem psom i zalaženje u omiljeni bar. No onda s...

color, 93'
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