Mika Kaurismäki with Sofia Award

The famous Finnish film director will be a guest at the special edition of SIFF in September

Photo: SIFF Mika Kaurismäki

The Finnish film director, screenplay writer and producer Mika Kaurismäki is one of the great names in cinema, whose films we will watch at the autumn edition of the 25th Sofia International Film Festival (SIFF). We expect to welcome him in Sofia in mid-September in order to present his latest feature Gracious Night and to be honoured with Sofia Award for outstanding contribution to the cinema art.

The festival, in partnership with the Finnish Film Foundation and the Embassy of Finland in Bulgaria, will present a retrospective of Kaurismäki, which will start on 10 September at the Cinema House in Sofia.

Mika Kaurismäki says about his passion for cinema that he feels not purely a film director but a film anthropologist - he likes to travel, observe and explore the world and people through his camera, and to record his impressions on a film tape.

He was born in 1955 and he is the elder brother of Aki Kaurismäki, whose retrospective was presented in the programme of the 24th SIFF. Mika became famous for his films Helsinki Napoli All Night Long (1987), Zombie and the Ghost Train (1991), and Three Wise Men (2008), which SFF audience will be able to see on the big screen.

Mika Kaurismäki graduated in Cinema in Munich, and his first film The Liar (1980) became a real sensation in Finland just for one night. This was the beginning of the Kaurismäki brothers' film career - the two began a new era in the Finnish cinema. Mika, Aki and a group of their friends founded Villealfa Filmproductions, a company that produces remarkable low-budget films.

In 1990, Mika Kaurismäki went into the jungles of South America and, together with Samuel Fuller and Jim Jarmusch, created the documentary Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made (1994), which won the FIPRESCI Award at the Berlinale. In 1998, Mika Kaurismäki left for the US and gathered there a stellar cast to film his greatest production L.A. Without a Map (1998) with names like David Tennant, Julie Delpy and Johnny Depp.

For 30 years, the film director has been travelling between Helsinki and Brazil, where he has found the love of his life - his wife. He has also made many documentaries in South America, such as Moro no Brasil (2002), Welcome to São Paulo (2004), The Sound of Rio: Brasileirinho (2005), and Mama Africa (2011), which is a documentary about the first black performer, who had won Grammy Award in 1965 - the South African Miriam Makeba.

Mika Kaurismäki's latest feature Gracious Night (2020), which will be presented in the programme of the 25th SIFF, was shot during the pandemic, in April last year.

The director explains that all his other projects were put on hold, so they decided to make this film. It was not exactly about the virus, but the action took place during this strange pandemic. He has chosen a bar called Corona to be a movie set - one of the cult bars that he and his filmmaking brother Aki co-own in Helsinki. In fact, Mika Kaurismäki relied again on the same actors of the Three Wise Men. He met the audience with three not-so-wise men who gather during the Covid-19 pandemic, finding refuge in the Corona Bar.

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