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The Other Side of Hope

The Other Side of Hope
The Other Side of Hope.png
Film poster
Directed byAki Kaurismäki
Produced byAki Kaurismäki
Written byAki Kaurismäki
CinematographyTimo Salminen
Edited bySamu Heikkilä
Distributed byB-Plan
Release date
  • 3 February 2017 (2017-02-03)
Running time
98 minutes[1]
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Finnish
  • English
  • Arabic
Box office$3,289,611[2]

The Other Side of Hope (Finnish: Toivon tuolla puolen) is a 2017 Finnish comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Aki Kaurismäki. The film was produced by Kaurismäki's Finnish company Sputnik. In December 2016, it was selected to play in competition at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.[3] The story is about a Finnish businessman who meets a Syrian asylum-seeker looking for his missing sister. Kaurismäki has noted that this film will be his last as a director.[4]


In Helsinki, Waldemar (Sakari Kuosmanen) a traveling shirt salesman quarrels with his wife (Kaija Pakarinen) and leaves her. He decides to exit his business and sells his remaining shirts. He gambles his newfound cash at a poker game and wins big. With his winnings he buys a restaurant. His three employees (Ilkka Koivula, Janne Hyytiäinen, Nuppu Koivu) are initially skeptical of Waldemar's attempts to reinvigorate their restaurant.

At the same time, Khaled (Sherwan Haji) shows up in Helsinki illegally on a cargo ship. He turns himself in to the police and applies for asylum. At the refugee processing facility he's sent to, he befriends Mazdak (Simon Hussein Al-Bazoon), an Iraqi refugee. Khaled asks Mazdak to help him with his search for his sister, Miriam (Niroz Haji), who was lost during their journey through the Balkans for refuge from the Syrian Civil War. When the Finnish government denies Khaled's asylum application after an interview, Khaled escapes from the facility.

Waldemar finds Khaled hiding near his restaurant, gives him refuge, and hires him. Waldemar and his staff help Khaled get new papers. Mazdak eventually hears from Miriam. Waldemar and Khaled hire a trucker to smuggle her from Lithuania, where she was in a refugee facility. Khaled and Miriam reunite. It is hinted that the trucker raped Miriam during the journey, though her brother does not realize this, and that this may not have been her first experience of sexual violence during her migration. She is also upset at her brother for getting her smuggled out without her consent. Shortly thereafter, Khaled returns home back to Waldemar's apartment. On the way he is harassed by a racist thug who stabs him nearly to death. Waldemar sees pools of blood when he comes back to his place, and goes out to find Khaled. Khaled is sitting under a tree on the bank of a river, smiling as a small dog licks his face.


Haji, Kaurismäki and Kuosmanen at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival


In December 2016, it was announced The Other Side of Hope would play in competition at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. The film itself was given an early February release in Finland[5] and Curzon Artificial Eye acquired the British distribution rights, with plans to release the film in April 2017.[6] In March 2017, Janus Films acquired the rights to distribute the film in the United States, previously distributing Kaurismäki's preceding film from 2011, Le Havre, in the country as well.[7] The Other Side of Hope was released in the United States on December 1, 2017.[8]


The Other Side of Hope was highly acclaimed upon release. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 91% approval rating, based on 87 reviews, with an average score of 7.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Writer-director Aki Kaurismäki further sharpens his craft with The Other Side of Hope, offering a timely drama whose melancholy air is leavened by its empathy."[9] On Metacritic, it holds a score of 84 out of 100 based on 23 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[10]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times said the film was "humane and gravely funny" and "at once honest and artful, a touching and clearsighted declaration of faith in people and in movies."

Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times noted: "Full of brilliantly offhand gags and harrowing plot turns, this delightful comic fable expresses a belief in human decency, in the way things could be if only we all tried a little harder, that feels wise and hopeful rather than naive".[11]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result Ref(s)
Berlin International Film Festival 18 February 2017 Silver Bear for Best Director Aki Kaurismäki Won [12]
Golden Bear Aki Kaurismäki Nominated
Audi Dublin International Film Festival 26 February 2017 Best Actor Sherwan Haji Won [13]

The film was chosen as the best film of 2016-17 by FIPRESCI.[14]


  1. ^ "The Other Side of Hope - Curzon Artificial Eye". Curzon Artificial Eye. Curzon Film World. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  2. ^ "The Other Side of Hope". Box Office Mojo., Inc. 19 March 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  3. ^ "Aki Kaurismäki, Oren Moverman, Agnieszka Holland, Andres Veiel, and Sally Potter – First Films for the Competition of the Berlinale 2017". Berlinale. 15 December 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Berlin: Aki Kaurismaki Wins Best Director for 'The Other Side of Hope'". 18 February 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  5. ^ "First Look: Aki Kaurismaki's 'The Other Side Of Hope'". 8 December 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  6. ^ "The Other Side of Hope - Curzon Artificial Eye". Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  7. ^ Pham, Annika (20 March 2017). "Aki Kaurismäki's Hope spreads to the US". Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Modulo AS. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  8. ^ Vestrheim, Emma (17 August 2017). "Aki Kaurismäki's THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE to screen at Toronto". Cinema Scandinavia. Cinema Scandinavia. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  9. ^ "The Other Side of Hope (Toivon tuolla puolen) (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  10. ^ "The Other Side of Hope Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  11. ^ Chang, Justin (18 September 2017). "At the Toronto International Film Festival, the director still reigns supreme". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Prizes of the International Jury". Berlinale. 18 February 2017.
  13. ^ Clarke, Donald (26 February 2016). "The DFCC Awards at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival". The Irish Times. The Irish Times. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  14. ^ "FIPRESCI - Awards". FIPRESCI. Retrieved 17 December 2017.

External links