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Aki Kaurismäki, born in 1957, grew up in "the age terrorized by television," and has tried and managed to stick to the inseparable realities of the real world and the "deep screen" that only 35 mm film - light against electronic machinations, the beauty of artisanal tradition against technological overkill - makes possible. He has never used any other material, least of all video, and is very proud for having continued the tradition of "real cinema."

His minimalist style is all his own (and that of the great cinematographer of all his films, Timo Salminen); he never entered the Finnish Film School (as he was suspected to be "too cynical"). At the same time, his films are full of allusions, but always invisible ones, parts of a constant dialogue wherein particles of film culture reveal realities of human environment, society and psyche: as it is now, and as it was during the tender years of Aki's childhood.


The Literary Classics
Crime And Punishment, 1983
Hamlet Goes Business, 1987
I Hired A Contract Killer, 1990
La Vie de Bohème, 1992
Juha, 1998

The Charming Cheapies: The Road Movies
Calamari Union, 1985
Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana, 1994

The "World's Worst Rock 'n' Roll Band": The Leningrad Cowboy Films and Music Videos
Rocky VI, Short/Music Video, 1986
Thru The Wire, Short/Music Video, 1987
L.A. Women, Short/Music Video, 1987
Rich Little Bitch, Short/Music Video, 1987
Leningrad Cowboys Go America, 1989
Those Were the Days, Short/Music Video, 1991
These Boots, Short/Music Video, 1991
Total Balalaika Show, Music Documentary, 1993
Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses, 1994

The Working Class Trilogy
Shadows In Paradise, 1986
Ariel, 1988
The Match Factory Girl, 1990

The Loser Trilogy
Drifting Clouds, 1996
The Man without a Past, 2002
Lights In The Dusk, 2006


by Aki Kaurismäki

The European cinema has not much addressed the continuously worsening financial, political, and above all, moral crisis that has lead to the ever-unsolved question of refugees; refugees trying to find their way into the EU from abroad, and their irregular, often substandard treatment.

I have no answer to this problem, but I still wanted to deal with this matter in this anyhow unrealistic film.


By Christine Masson

Where did the idea for LE HAVRE come from? Is it from the increasingly terrible situation of people escaping from their home countries? Or did you simply want to make another film in France?

The idea I had for some years, but I didn't know where to shoot it. Basically the story could happen almost in any European country, except maybe the Vatican, or then especially there. The most logical places would of course have been Greece, Italy and Spain because they carry the heaviest pressure caused by the problem (to say it mildly). Anyhow I drove through the whole seafront from Genoa to Holland and found what I wanted from the City of blues and soul and rock 'n' roll, Le Havre.

In France our motto is "Liberté, égalité, fraternité". It seems the one you kept is fraternité, brotherhood?

The other two were always too optimistic. But fraternité you can find anywhere, even in France!

This "brotherhood" between the people of the fishermen's quartier in Le Havre saves the young boy, but it does not exist anymore in real life, does it? I certainly hope it does, otherwise we are already living in the ant society that Ingmar Bergman often mentioned as coming next.

I have the feeling that the more violent the situation becomes in the world, the more you keep faith in mankind. Have you turned desperately optimistic?

I have always preferred the version of the fairytale where Little Red Riding Hood eats the wolf and not the opposite, but in real life I prefer wolves to the pale men of Wall Street.

Did you meet immigrants to write your story?

No, but on other occasions, of course.

To symbolize immigration you have chosen a young boy from Africa. Is youth the icon of hope?

There are no symbols in my films, but in general I trust youngsters more than people like me. Which isn't too much, yet. At least I trust Blondin Miguel, the actor of the boy, without limits.

With this film you widened your family of actors. Jean-Pierre Darroussin, for example. However, we get the feeling that he has always been a part of the family.

Of course he has been around, but I haven't let him act before, just clean the studio in the evenings, etc.

Is it is challenge to direct French actors?

Just a privilege.

As with LA VIE DE BOHÈME you seem to look for an eternal and unchanging post-war France of the 50s. Are you nostalgic for this period?

I'm just a bit slow. Modern architecture hurts my eyes. But the 70s start to look stylish already…here and there. Luckily there is always yesterday.

Same with your cinematographic references: Bresson, Becker, Melville, Tati, René Clair, Marcel Carné? Your film seems to have a bit of each of them.

I certainly hope so, because I didn't bring anything myself… I studied some films of Marcel Carné, but couldn't steal much without jumping from semi-realistic fairy tale to a serious melodrama.

From French culture you have also picked up a singer, Little Bob, who acts in this movie. Is he for you a real musical reference?

Le Havre is the Memphis, Tennessee of France and Little Bob a.k.a. Roberto Piazza is the Elvis of this Kingdom as long as Johnny Hallyday stays in Paris (and even then it would be a nice fight).

Did you make the film you had in mind with LE HAVRE?

More or less, I hope…


"The more pessimistic I feel, the more optimistic I need to make my movies. That’s my refuge."
- Time Out New York

"A director who can’t manipulate a spectator’s feelings and make him/her laugh or be afraid should change his or her profession."
- Filmmaker Magazine

"I’m not interested in the upper class. I don’t know how to write dialogue for them. I don’t know how they talk. I’ve always been working, working, working, so those are the characters I know."
- indieWIRE

"For me a movie without at least one live music performance is like a Pope without artificial teeth."

"Real film is light, digital is electricity."
- Film Comment

"Certainly I owe Capra one beer in the heavenly bar if they are allowed to send him downstairs."
- San Francisco Chronicle