Six films by Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki

Featuring strong socio-political issues, such as class-based exclusion, family relationships and social injustice, we present to you our selection of six films by Mika Kaurismäki (Aki Kaurismäki’s elder brother), a filmmaker who has marked a new era in Finnish cinema:

The Girl King (2015, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Canada)

The Girl King is the story of Sweden’s Queen Kristina Augusta, an extraordinary and enigmatic young woman who defied tradition and conservative thinking, and, by challenging her upbringing and conventional gender roles, changed the course of history. Queen Kristina is played by Malin Buska, who delivers a compelling portrait of the strong-minded young monarch, a symbol of sexual freedom and female empowerment.

Homecoming (2015, Finland)

Starring Vesa-Matti Loiri (Road North – see below) and Armi Toivanen (21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage, available on VoD as part of the 2015 Scandinavian collection) Homecomingtells the story of Tiina, Tomi and their goth daughter as they leave the hectic life of the city behind them and move back to Tiina's small hometown on the coast. But downshifting to a peaceful life is not as easy as it would seem.

Road North (2012, Finland)

Available on VoD as part of the Comédies à la carte from 5 September

With all the mastery of an arthouse filmmaker, Mika Kaurismäki tells a familiar tale that touches audiences with the realism of its characters and its stunning Finnish landscape. This story features a man (played by Vesa-Matti Loiri, a Finnish film icon and a multi-award-winning legend), who, after 30 years, returns home to his son. In an effort to get to know each other better, they go on a road trip together. Including totally opposite characters, a stolen car and shocking revelations, Road North is a darkly comic and deeply touching road movie.

Mama Africa (2011, Finland, Germany, South Africa, France)

Available on VoD as part of the 2015 Docs from around the world collection

Mama Africa is a documentary about Miriam Makeba, an incredible individual, who was forced into exile after she released her anti-apartheid music. This led to her becoming the first African musician to achieve international recognition as a superstar, using her music to fight against racism and thus becoming a symbol for truth and justice for all suppressed people, long before any others. In Mama Africa, Kaurismäki sheds light on her life and music across 50 years. 

Brothers (2011, Finland)

Brothers is loosely based on The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, as the film follows a family reunion shaken by the fact that three brothers from three different mothers meet for the first time in years for their shared father’s 70th birthday. The film carries its viewers on a stormy road, going back over painful memories, where three people reconnect, united in blaming their reckless father for their own failures. An emotional drama, compelling in its realism and characters’ vulnerability.

The Clan – Tale of the Frogs (1984, Finland)

A captivating love story about two people who try to overcome their families’ criminal inclinations. The film follows young Alex Sammako who is determined not to follow in his brother’s footsteps and defy the law. He finds shelter in his love for Mirja who shares his views of the world, her family being no different from Alex’s. The film shows the power of not just love, but of society's prejudices and the pressure of the social environment in which you are born. It is a compelling example of Kaurismäki’s reflection on social injustice and the divide between social classes. 

02 September 2016, by Cineuropa