16 items from 2017
The New York Film Festival kicks off later this week, sending us straight into the second half of a very busy fall festival season. In preparation for the festival, we’ve pinpointed its most exciting offerings, from never-before-seen narratives to insightful new documentaries, and plenty of previously-screened features looking to capitalize on strong word of mouth coming out of fellow tests like Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. In short, there’s plenty to experience in the coming weeks, so consider this your roadmap to the best of the fest.
Ahead, 13 essential titles — from buzzy world premieres to highlights from the 2017 circuit— that we can’t wait to see at this year’s New York Film Festival.
Documentaries about family members are always a dubious proposition. Some can also come across as overindulgent exercises, »
- Kate Erbland, Eric Kohn, Anne Thompson, David Ehrlich, Chris O'Falt, Jude Dry, Michael Nordine and Steve Greene
It’s beginning to look a lot like fall festival season. On the heels of announcements from Tiff and Venice, the 55th edition of the New York Film Festival has unveiled its Main Slate, including a number of returning faces, emerging talents, and some of the most anticipated films from the festival circuit this year.
This year’s Main Slate showcases a number of films honored at Cannes including Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or–winner “The Square,” Robin Campillo’s “Bpm,” and Agnès Varda & Jr’s “Faces Places.” Other Cannes standouts, including “The Rider” and “The Florida Project,” will also screen at Nyff.
- Kate Erbland
Aki Kaurismaki’s latest set as festival opener.
The Finnish director’s latest will screen at the National Theatre and the Raiffeisen Open Air Cinema in Sarajevo.
It premiered earlier this year in Berlin, where it won the festival’s Silver Bear award for best director.
Screen’s review claimed that “Kaurismaki fans will not want to miss this one”. It also topped Screen’s 2017 Berlin jury grid.
The Finnish-German production is the director’s first film in six years and follows Khaled, who flees to Finland from war-torn Syria and meets restaurateur Wikstrom, who has recently left his alcoholic wife.
The film is Kaurismaki’s 12th feature and is being touted as the thematic twin to his 2011 picture Le Havre, which opened the 17th Sarajevo Film Festival.
The stars of The Other Side of Hope, actors Simon Al-Boozen »
“The Other Side of Hope” will screen at the National Theatre and the Raiffeisen Open Air Cinema in Sarajevo on Aug. 11.
“The Other Side of Hope” marks the Finnish master’s first feature in six years. The Sarajevo Film Festival described the film as a “thematic twin” to Kaurismäki’s 2011 feature “Le Havre,” which had opened the 17th edition of the festival.
The politically minded film follows the tale of Khaled, who has fled war-torn Syria to seek asylum in Finland, where he meets Wikström, a restaurateur who recently left his alcoholic wife.
Sold by The Match Factory, “The Other Side of Hope” world premiered at the Berlinale where it won the Silver Bear for best director.
The Sarajevo Film Festival will take place Aug. 11- »
- Elsa Keslassy
A Syrian asylum seeker finds friendship with a hapless Finnish restaurateur in part two of Aki Kaurismäki’s migrant trilogy
The latest from Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki follows Syrian asylum seeker Khaled (Sherwan Haji) as he attempts to make a new life for himself in Helsinki. Emerging from a coal freighter covered in soot, Khaled maintains that crossing the border was easy, because “nobody wants to see me”.
The second in a loose trilogy that began with his 2011 film Le Havre, Kaurismäki’s wry comedy is a timely critique of an intolerant Europe, and a winking cheer to those who offer a handshake of solidarity to their new neighbours. One such individual is the cranky but generous Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), who wins a poker game and buys a decrepit restaurant (the delightfully rubbish Golden Pint, a single painting of Jimi Hendrix adorning its otherwise bare walls) with his prize money. »
- Simran Hans
Aki Kaurismäki’s tale of a Syrian refugee who stows away to Finland mines the deadpan humour he’s famous for while refusing to flinch from heartbreak and hardship
The movies of Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, with their deadpan drollery and aquarium light, have long been a habit-forming pleasure. But increasingly they are something else, or something more. The issue of migrants and refugees from the Middle East may still be something from which cinema mostly averts its gaze. Not Kaurismäki’s cinema. With his previous film Le Havre, and this very sympathetic and charming new work, The Other Side of Hope, Kaurismäki has made refugees his focus – and done so without appearing to change style or tonal tack. His humane comedy, with its air of unworldly absurdity, has absorbed this idea, but not undermined its seriousness in any way, in fact embraced it with almost miraculous ease and simplicity. »
- Peter Bradshaw
The first time I went to the Berlin Film Festival, the city was existentially cold, cottoned in fog, and grayer than “Wings of Desire.” And I loved it. I had just been laid off and my personal life was mired in one of those brutally unsolicited periods of self-reflection, so a jet-lagged week in the grim heart of Europe was just what the doctor ordered.
That was the year of titles like “Boyhood,” the frigid Chinese neo-noir “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” and an Estonian drama about a film critic who loses his newspaper job — and then his mind — after filing a two-word review of “The Tree of Life.” (“Fuck you.”) I bundled up and walked by the Reichstag, spent a few nights on the east side of town, and tried most of the brews at the House of 100 Beers, a flavorless, three-tiered tourist trap near the center of the festival »
- David Ehrlich
“The Other Side of Hope”
Winsome, sweet, and often very funny, the second chapter of Aki Kaurismäki’s unofficial trilogy about port cities is a delightful story about the power of kindness that unfolds like a slightly more somber riff on 2011’s “Le Havre.” The Finnish auteur’s latest refugee story begins with a twentysomething Syrian man named Khaled (terrific newcomer Sherwan Haji), who escapes from Aleppo after burying most of his family and sneaks into Finland by stowing away in the cargo hold of a coal freighter. His path eventually crosses with Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), a newly single restauranteur who could use a helping hand. Part Roy Andersson and part Frank Capra, “The Other Side of Hope” deepens the director’s recognition of how immigrants and refugees are victimized by their invisibility, and its timeliness could help it strike a chord with domestic audiences. “Le Havre” grossed more than »
- David Ehrlich, Eric Kohn and Jude Dry
Situated as it is in the dank tail-end of a cold German winter, the Berlinale never attracts as much attention from awards-watchers as its fellow European majors Cannes and Venice: The former, after all, takes place in sunny spring climes, when everyone has recovered sufficiently from the last awards season to contemplate the next one, while the latter glamorously kicks off the gilded fall festivals, handing the baton to Telluride and Toronto. Berlin’s programming, meanwhile, is arguably the most proudly esoteric of the three, with an emphasis on newer filmmakers and underexposed filmmaking regions and demographics.
None of that, needless to say, is exactly music to Oscar pundits’ ears, but for the keen-eyed observer, Berlin annually turns up a few contenders that stay the course all the way to the following February. It’s rare for a Berlinale premiere to make quite as big a splash as Wes Anderson »
- Guy Lodge
The Other Side of Hope. Malla Hukkanen © Sputnik OyLaughter is a rare gift at film festivals, which so often feel like relentless gloom and doom contests. In this year’s Berlinale Competition, at least thus far, good films have been in even shorter supply than funny ones. I’m really glad to report there’s been improvement on both fronts—after a truly lamentable first few days, laughs as well as quality started trickling into the festival’s main slate.It was a pretty safe bet that Aki Kaurismäki’s new film, The Other Side of Hope, would be a stand-out. The high expectations were surpassed: this may very well be the great Finn’s best outing since his 1996 masterpiece Drifting Clouds. The second part of a planned trilogy addressing the current refugee crisis in Europe, The Other Side of Hope bears strong narrative similarities to its predecessor Le Havre »
The Finnish screenwriter employs his usual sensitivity to highlight the experiences of two men who flee their homes and form an unlikely friendship
“Always different, always the same”: John Peel’s famous description of The Fall applies equally well to the work of the melancholy Finnish minimalist Aki Kaurismäki. The 59-year-old has been writing and directing for more than 30 years, scarcely tweaking his formula of woebegone absurdism. His films, which include the knockabout Leningrad Cowboys Go America and the poignant Cannes Grand Prix-winner The Man Without a Past, are mostly set in the Finland that time forgot, where there is scant evidence that things have progressed beyond the 1950s. Vodka, rockabilly, Brylcreem and smokes are the order of the day; they are the only things that lighten life’s load. Along with kindness and companionship, which sprout unexpectedly in the gloom like spring daffodils in February.
Related: Le Havre – review
Continue reading. »
- Ryan Gilbey
Like Roger Federer’s forehand or Jiro Ono’s sushi, Aki Kaurismäki’s deadpan is one of those beautiful things that’s been refined beyond all reason over years of intense practice, eventually approaching a perfection that makes it easy to predict but impossible to deny.
Consider one early bit of business in the Finnish filmmaker’s latest fable, a wordless sequence in which a middle-aged man named Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen) leaves his wife (Kaija Pakarinen). It’s the dead of night. The man is wearing a suit and looking at his reflection in the bedroom mirror; his wife is pouring herself a drink at the tiny table in the corner of their kitchen. A fat cactus sits next to her booze. Wikström saunters over, places his wedding band and apartment keys on the table, and walks out the door. His wife lights another cigarette, picks up the ring, and stubs it into the ashtray. »
- David Ehrlich
This year’s Berlin International Film Festival bows in Germany later this week and with it, one of Europe’s most exciting and singular film festivals. As ever, the annual fest is playing home to dozens of feature films and short offerings, with picks aplenty from both modern masters and fresh faces. The Berlinale often breeds some of indie film’s most unexpected and unique standouts, so if it’s at the fest, it’s likely worth a look.
Read More: 5 Exciting Films in the 2017 Berlin Film Festival Competition Lineup
Ahead, check out the 8 titles we are most excited to check out at this year’s festival.
“Have a Nice Day”
Expectations are high for this Chinese animated feature that marks the sophomore effort from director Liu Jiang, whose surreal debut “Piercing” offered an inventive look at modern day city life in China’s capital. If the gorgeous stills from »
- David Ehrlich, Eric Kohn and Kate Erbland
Confirming its status as one of the go-to art-fare companies at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, Michael Weber’s The Match Factory has acquired international sales rights to five Berlinale world premieres, three of them in competition, including Finnish icon Aki Kaurismaki’s “The Other Side of Hope.”
When the dust settles on the pickups of titles selected for this year’s Berlinale, few if any sales agents from whatever country are likely to own a larger slice of Berlin competition real estate than The Match Factory.
Of new pickups, the company will represent “Bright Nights,” from German 1990s new wave writer-director Thomas Arslan, marking his follow-up to 2012 Berlin competition hit “Gold,” a latter-day Klondike-set Western. Produced by Germany’s Schramm Film Koerner & Weber and Norway’s Mer Film, “Bright Nights” returns Arslan to the rugged wild – remote north Norway – in what The Match Factory describes as a touching father-son drama. »
- John Hopewell and Leo Barraclough
The Other Side of Hope (aka Refugee)
Director: Aki Kaurismaki
Writer: Aki Kaurismaki
Continue reading »
- Nicholas Bell
There are a few ingredients that mark the films of Aki Kaurismaki: a camera that doesn’t fuss around too much, a deliciously deadpan humor, an eclectic soundtrack, and absurd situations that still never lose sight of sympathy for the characters at the heart of the story. And those are all on display in the first international trailer for “The Other Side Of Hope.”
The director’s first feature since 2011’s “Le Havre,” and the second installment in what will become a port city trilogy, the film chronicles the journey of a Syrian refugee as he attempts to seek asylum in Helsinki, and the relationship he sparks with a traveling salesman turned restauranteur.
- Kevin Jagernauth
16 items from 2017
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