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|The Other Side of Hope|
|Directed by||Aki Kaurismäki|
|Produced by||Aki Kaurismäki|
|Written by||Aki Kaurismäki|
|Edited by||Samu Heikkilä|
|Language||Finnish, English, Arabic|
The Other Side of Hope (Finnish title: 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. 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.
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.
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 and Curzon Artificial Eye acquired the British distribution rights, with plans to release the film in April 2017. 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. The Other Side of Hope was released in the United States on December 1, 2017.
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." On Metacritic, it holds a score of 84 out of 100 based on 23 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
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".
|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|||
|Golden Bear||Aki Kaurismäki||Nominated|
|Audi Dublin International Film Festival||26 February 2017||Best Actor||Sherwan Haji||Won|||