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By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – From July 21st through August 2nd, Caixa Cultural Rio de Janeiro will present a retrospective of the works of Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki. In addition to screening seventeen full-length features and nine short films by Kaurismäki, the festival will include a workshop with director of photography, Jacques Cheuiche on the 25th and an exhibition of original film posters and photos taken during the filming of select features.

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Aki Kaurismäki’s 2002 film “The Man Without a Past” will screen as part of the CAIXA Cultural retrospective, image courtesy of CAIXA Cultural Rio de Janeiro.

Considered a true auteur as he writes, directs, produces, and edits his films, Kaurismäki is known for his deadpan humor and detached irony. His style and thematic choices are often compared to those of American filmmakers Hal Hartley and Jim Jarmusch, who made a cameo appearance in Kaurismäki’s 1989 film, “Leningrad Cowboys Go America.”

Born in Orimattila, Finland in 1957, Kaurismäki first entered the film industry as a screenwriter for and actor in films made by his older brother Mika Kaurismäki. Their works combined are considered key to the development of Finnish cinema.

Making his solo debut in 1983 with his film adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” Aki Kaurismäki would go on to set many of his films in and around Helsinki, Finland’s capital. Often taking place in bleak working-class neighborhoods, Kaurismäki’s films maintain a sense of optimism despite their melancholic settings. “Life is short and miserable. Be as merry as you can,” one character states in Kaurismäki’s 1996 work “Drifting Clouds,” the first film of his Finland trilogy.

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Aki Kaurismäki’s 1986 film “Shadows in Paradise” will screen during the retrospective, image courtesy of CAIXA Cultural Rio de Janeiro.

Kaurismäki is best known internationally for his 2002 comedy-drama, “The Man Without a Past.” The film won the Grand Prize of the Jury during the 2002 Cannes festival awards and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film during the same year.

In a 2003 review of “The Man Without a Past,” film critic Roger Ebert wrote of Kaurismäki’s work; “His characters don’t smile much, they nod sadly a lot, they smoke and think and expect the worst. And yet there is a joy in them, a deep humor that’s all the richer because it springs from human nature and the absurdity of existence, instead of depending on one-liners and gags.”

“The Man Without a Past” will screen as part of the Caixa Cultural retrospective, as will other notable Kaurismäki films including “Crime and Punishment” (1983), “Shadows in Paradise” (1986), “Ariel” (1988), “Leningrad Cowboys Go America” (1989), “The Match Factory Girl” (1990), “Drifting Clouds” (1996), “Juha” (1999), and “Lights in the Dusk” (2006).

Additionally during the festival, there will be a free workshop held on July 25th with director of photography Jacques Cheuiche, who worked with Kaurismäki on three projects.

See the Mostra Kaurismaki site, here, for more information and the programming guide with screening times,

What: Aki Kaurismäki Retrospective
When: July 21st through August 2nd (Tuesdays through Sundays)
Where: Caixa Cultural Rio de Janeiro, Av. Almirante Barroso 25, Centro
Entrance: R$2-R$4

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