Mika Kaurismäki with the Sofia Municipality Award at 25th Sofia International Film Festival

The celebrated Finnish director will be a special Sofia Film Festival guest in September

The Cinema House will present a retrospective with the most significant Kaurismäki's films

Finnish film director, screenwriter and producer Mika Kaurismäki will be among the big names in cinema, whose films will be screened at the 25th Sofia International Film Festival. We expect to welcome the director in Sofia in mid-September with his latest film „Gracious Night“ and we'll be happy to honor him with the Sofia Municipality Award for his contribution to the art of cinema. The festival, in partnership with The Finnish Film Foundation and the Embassy of Finland in Bulgaria, presents Kaurismäki's film retrospective, starting September 10 at the Cinema House.

I feel as if I'm not a film director, but a film anthropologist - I like to travel, observe and explore the world and people with my camera. And I capture all these impressions on tape,“ says Mika Kaurismäki about his passion for cinema.

He was born in 1955 and is the older brother of Aki Kaurismäki, whose retrospective we presented in the program of the 24th SIFF in partnership with the Finnish Film Foundation and the Embassy of Finland in Bulgaria. Mika became famous for his films „Helsinki-Naples All Night Long“ (1987), „Zombie and the Ghost Train“ (1991), „Three Wise Men“ (2008), which the audience of Sofia Film Festival will be able to see on the big screen.

Mika Kaurismäki graduated in cinema in Munich, and his first feature „The Liar“ (1980) became a sensation in Finland literally over one night. This is also the beginning of the Kaurismäki brothers' film career - the two are starting a new era in Finnish cinema. Mika, Aki and a group of their friends founded Villealfa Filmproductions, a company that produces remarkable low-budget films. In the 90's Mika founded his own company „Marianna Films“. Among his first independent projects was „Zombie and the Ghost Train“. The festival audience in our country will also be able to see „The Worthless“ (1982), awarded with the Finnish „Jussi“ award for best director - road-movie about two men and a woman who drive around the country while being chased by a group of criminals and police.

In 1990, Mika Kaurismäki set out for the jungles of South America and, together with Samuel Fuller and Jim Jarmusch, made the documentary „Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made“ (1994), which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlinale. In 1998, Mika Kaurismäki left for the United States and assembled a stellar cast to film his biggest production, „LA Without a Map“ (1998), with names such as David Tennant, Julie Delpy and Johnny Depp.

For 30 years, the director traveled between Helsinki and Brazil, where he found the love of his life - his wife: „I went to Brazil for a week, I liked it and I stayed. Finland is small for me - everything is the same, no matter where you travel around the country“. Mika Kaurismäki 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) - about the first black performer to win a Grammy in 1965, South African musician Miriam Makeba.

Mika Kaurismäki's latest film, „Gracious Night“ („Yö armahtaa“, 2020) was shot during the pandemic in April last year.

All my other projects were put on hold, so we decided to make this film. It's not exactly about the virus, but the action takes place during this strange pandemic," explains the director, and chooses „Corona Bar“ as the set - one of the cult establishments that he and his brother Aki keep in Helsinki. In fact, Mika Kaurismäki relies again on the cast of „Three Wise Men“ and meets the audience with three not-so-wise men who gather during the pandemic, finding refuge in the „Corona Bar“.

„After „Three Wise Men“, we always talked about making another film using the same method, and we actually started to do so last year. We were supposed to shoot in Dubai and have these Finnish men coming together in some bar, talking about their personal crises. In March 2020, we were still planning to go there and look for locations, and then the lockdown came. The engine was already idling and the actors had worked on their characters, so we decided to adjust it. There is coronavirus, but there is also Corona Bar. It seemed like a good match,“ reveals more details about the preparation of the film Kaurismäki - the „Gracious Night“'s premiere is in the competition programme of the Tallinn Black Nights' film festival.

Mika Kaurismäki's films will be presented to the public in Sofia at the #AUTUMN edition of the 25th Sofia Film Festival in September 2021.

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Sofia Film Festival is supported by Sofia Municipality and is a part of the Calendar of Cultural Events of Sofia Municipality.

Main co-organizers and partners are the Ministry of Culture, EA „Bulgarian National Film Center“ and „Creative Europe MEDIA“ Programme of European Union.

We wait for you at the #CINEMAs* #25SofiaIFF