Mika Kaurismäki’s filmography:
Mika Kaurismäki’s first film The Liar (1980) was an overnight sensation, when first shown in Finland; it marked the beginning of the cinema of the Kaurismäki brothers and started a new era in the Finnish cinema.
After the high school Mika Kaurismäki used to work as a painter of houses and apartments in a small town of Kuusankoski in the Southeastern part of Finland. In the autumn of 1976, when the winter was coming and the annual high season for painting houses was over, he thought of doing something else in life. Still wearing his painter overall, he walked into a bookstore and bought the newly published “History of Cinema” by Peter von Bagh. He started reading it from the page one and decided to become a film director.
Mika Kaurismaki studied cinema in Munich, Germany, (Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen) 1977-1981 and made his diplom film The Liar in 1980 in Finland. His younger brother Aki Kaurismäki, then a student of journalism, played the main role and also co-wrote the screenplay. After the success of The Liar, Mika Kaurismäki decided to stay in Finland and together with his brother and some friends he founded the production company Villealfa Filmproductions, that soon became a home of vital low- or no-budget film making; by the end of the 80’s it was the third biggest film production company of all times in Finland. The Villealfa film family consisted, besides the Kaurismäki brothers, of many colleagues and friends, including the actors Matti Pellonpää and Kari Väänänen and the cinematographer Timo Salminen. Mika Kaurismäki’s films of this era include among others the road movies The Worthless (1982) and Rosso (1985), the action comedy Helsinki Napoli – all night long (1987) and the enviromental adventure The Amazon (1990). Aki Kaurismäki, who had worked as Mika’s assistant and a screenwriter, began his career as a director, when Mika produced his first film The Crime and Punishment (1984). During the active Villealfa years, Mika co-founded the legendary Midnight Sun Film Festival (1986) and the distribution company Senso Films (1987) and the Andorra cinemas in Helsinki.
The 90’s meant a gradual disappearance of the Villealfa spirit and both Mika and Aki started to produce their films through their own production companies. Mika had founded Marianna Films in 1987 and its first independent production was the award winning Zombie and the Ghost Train (1991). In 1994 Mika returned to the Brazilian jungle with Samuel Fuller and Jim Jarmusch and made the feature length documentary Tigrero – a film that was never made. The film was awarded the International Critics’ Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1994.
In the course of the 90’s Mika established his base and second home in Rio de Janeiro and started to concentrate more in international co-productions. In 1996 in Philadelphia he directed the no-budget thriller Condition Red with James Russo, Cynda Williams and Paul Calderon. His biggest production so far is the comedy LA without a map (1998), with David Tennant, July Delpy, Vincent Gallo, Johnny Depp, James Le Gros, Anouk Aimee, Joe Dallesandro etc.
The new millenium started for Mika with the production of Moro no Brasil (2002), the praised documentary of Brazilian music. During the production of this film he also opened a live music club Mikas Bar in Rio de Janeiro, but gave it up later and decided to concentrate primarily in film making. In 2003 he directed Honey Baby, a road movie between Germany and Russia, starring Henry Thomas, Irina Björklund and Helmut Berger. Brasileirinho, a film about Brazilian choro music, premiered at the Berlinale 2005 and Sonic Mirror, a film with legendary drummer Billy Cobham, in Nyon 2007.
In 2008 Mika directed the award winning Three Wise Men. The House of Branching Love premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2009. His latest film Vesku from Finland was released in September 2010.Mama Africa (Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival) is a documentary about famed South African singer, the late Miriam Makeba. Road North, a dramatic comedy starring two Finnish icons, Vesa- Matti Loiri and Samuli Edelmann, premiered in Finland on August 24, 2012, and has been a success with more than 200.000 viewers by the end of September.
The King - Jari Litmanen is a story of professional football (soccer) player Jari Litmanen, often referred as the "king" or "artist”. The film is about what it takes to make it in football but it’s also a personal exploration revealing who Litmanen really is – the family man, the human being. We also delve into the sacrifices he's made in his private life and naturally, about how football has impacted his world.
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