Director: Aki Kaurismäki. Starring: Sakari Kuosmanen, Sherwan Haji. Finland/Germany 2017. TBC mins. Finnish/Swedish/Arabic with English subtitles.
Acclaimed writer-director Aki Kaurismäki’s poignant follow-up to Le Havre sensitively weaves together the struggles of two men who flee their homes, albeit in very different circumstances. The first is Khaled (Haji), a Syrian refugee separated from his family, who arrives in Helsinki hidden as a stowaway on a coal freighter. After his transfer to a bleak, impersonal holding centre, the details of his tragic story come to light. Meanwhile, a parallel, equally desperate tale unfolds courtesy of spiky salesman Waldemar Wikström (Kuosmanen), who leaves his drunken wife and quite literally gambles everything on financing a failing restaurant. Typically of Kaurismäki, there’s much dark humour as Wikström and Khaled’s paths cross, yet antagonism eventually yields to sympathy, spawning a surrogate family unit that touchingly fills in for absent kin.
Director: Michaël Dudok De Wit. France/Belgium/Japan 2015. 81 mins.
Renowned Japanese animation giant Studio Ghibli’s first-ever international co-production is a perfect collaboration with Oscar-winning Dutch animator Michaël Dudok De Wit. The Red Turtle, almost a decade in the making, is a dialogue-free fable about a castaway on a desert island, and a touching ode to the cycle of life and the resilience of family. Presented with an elegant simplicity, the sublime visuals pack a real emotional punch. Described by critics as a ‘quiet little masterpiece’ and a ‘wordless wonder’, The Red Turtle won the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes. Michaël Dudok De Wit previously made the Oscar-winning animated short Father And Daughter in 2000.