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Aki Kaurismäki • Director

“We are all the same; we are all human”


- BERLIN 2017: Finnish writer-director Aki Kaurismäki spoke to the international press at the Berlinale to discuss his refugee-centred competition entry The Other Side of Hope

Aki Kaurismäki  • Director
(© Berlinale)

With the Berlinale competition entry The Other Side of Hope [+see also:
film review
Q&A: Aki Kaurismäki
film profile
, Finnish writer-director Aki Kaurismäki continues his trilogy on refugees, which started with the award-winning tragicomedy Le Havre [+see also:
film review
interview: Aki Kaurismäki
film profile
. His new film is dedicated to late writer-director and film historian Peter von Bagh, the director of the Midnight Sun Film Festival, which the Kaurismäki brothers founded in 1986.

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Why did you decide to make a trilogy on people who are living in harbour cities?
Aki Kaurismäki: Basically, this happened automatically because I am absolutely lazy. I always have to make a trilogy so that I actually do something, that’s all. I couldn’t cut wood. But it is not a harbour trilogy any more; it has become a trilogy about refugees. I hope that the third part will be a happy comedy. 

Do you think that The Other Side of Hope might be a mind changer?
Cinema doesn’t have that big an influence, but my honest intention with this film was to try to force the people who go to see it to understand that we are all the same, that we are all human. And while today it’s “him” or “her” who is the refugee, tomorrow it could be you.

What kinds of instructions do you usually give to your actors?
I don’t want to move my actors too much and ask them not to move their hands like windmills. Of course, I choose them because of their handsome faces – and their acting skills. Actors should act; the camera is either their enemy or their friend. If you can act, it is your friend; if you can’t, it is your enemy.

What do you think of the Islamisation of Europe?
Islamisation? Well, Iceland was quite good at football one time, but that doesn’t mean that there will be an “Icelandisation” of Europe. It was okay, but it was eighth in the World Championship. It doesn’t mean that Iceland will conquer Europe. I can’t see any Islamisation in Europe. It is a normal cultural change, which we need because our blood is getting thick. 

This is not your first movie about refugees – why is this subject so important for you?
If you look at the last century, basically we haven’t had any culture of humanity. In Europe, we developed some kind of democratic organisation over the course of the last century. But now we have had a troubled year with all the crimes, and in ten years, everything will fall to pieces because we are no good. Sixty years ago, we had 60 million refugees, as we do today. At that time, we helped them, but now they are enemies. Where the hell is our humanity? If we don’t have humanity for our friends, we couldn’t exist either. We shouldn’t even exist – if we’re not humans, who the hell are we? In this sense, I respect Ms Merkel for being the only politician who seems to be at least interested in the problem. All the rest play their games – but this is not a political statement.

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