Directed by: Aki Kaurismaki
Staring: Sakari Kuosmanen as Wikstrom, Sherwan Haji as Khalid
In his semi-delightful, semi-sad, semi-comedy, The Other Side of Hope, director Aki Kaurismaki presents two protagonists, and they are total opposites. One is Wikstrom, a reasonably well-off middle-aged salesman (and virtuoso poker player) who leaves his alcoholic wife. The other is a Syrian refugee, Khaled whom Finnish immigration officials have decided must be forcibly returned to Aleppo in Syria. Kaurismaki presents the ensuing clash and blend of cultures, alluding to how Finland deals with the wider refugee crisis. The film is tragic, funny, depressing, and inspiring. It’s as if the masks of comedy and tragedy don’t — as usual — face away from each other, but stare each other in the face, as if they were saying, “You and me, we’re in this together.”
Kaurismaki won best director for The Other Side of Hope at the Berlin International Film Festival.