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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Aki Kaurismäki named youngest Finn Academician of Art

Helsingin Sanomat reports on the ascension of director Aki Kaurismäki to the 8-member Finnish Academy. Reports Esa Mäkinen, “‘The day that I get an invitation to the President’s Palace is when I will immediately commit suicide”, said the young film director Aki Kaurismäki [in 1984]. “I mean that I don’t want to make a contract with society that would lead to me getting invited there.” That kind of a contract is happening on Friday, when President Tarja Halonen appoints Kaurismäki as Academician of Art. “Academician” is an honorary title without pay. It is a recognition from the state that as a film director, Kaurismäki is a genius before his death… During his career of 30 years 1135236609126.jpeghe has given hundreds of interviews, from the Finnair in-flight magazine to the communist Tiedonantaja. In spite of this, he is seen in people’s minds as someone who avoids publicity. From one year to the next, Kaurismäki is depicted as a heavy smoker, who consumes unusually large amounts of alcohol. Above all he is trying to be the leftist intellectual, who has unusually honest truths to say about what he sees as the inferior people who are in power in Finland. “If you start looking at others from above, then you might as well put a bullet in your skull. In the leading tiers there are only contemptible people”, he said in 1983 in Ylioppilaslehti, the newspaper of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki… “Finns have not thought of anything other than money in the past decade.” … Kaurismäki himself is rich – or at least he could be. The film company Sputnik, which is in his wife’s name, had a bank balance of EUR 1.1 million in 2005. In the same way that doctors and lawyers have recently been taking tax-free income from their companies, Kaurismäki’s production company has paid its owners EUR 90,000 without tax… Kaurismäki also owns all kinds of things: a part of the Corona and Kiasma restaurants, and a house in Karkkila. He spends his winters on a wine estate in Portugal, and has included among his hobbies “collecting old Cadillacs”. He has only one such car… “At a late-night party when everyone else came in through the door, you never knew if Aki would come in through the window”, says his former roommate from the 1970s, Jarmo Lähteenmäki, ex-President of the Paperworkers’ Union….


“When he is truly being himself, he is rather melancholy and even morose. It would seem that the soul of a sensitive artist feels angst that the whole world is such a crappy place”, Häkli says.” From an earlier dispatch: “Today, he lives in a wooden house in the town of Karkkila in Southern Finland and drives a Volvo station wagon. In April the Arts Council of Finland proposed that [he] be named an Academician representing the Finnish film industry, to succeed film director Rauni Mollberg who died last autumn…. Academician is an honorary title which can be given to persons of outstanding merit representing science and the arts. There can be no more than eight Academicians representing the arts at any one time. Kaurismäki is the youngest of the eight living academicians, while the other seven academicians representing the arts are: poet and playwright Paavo Haavikko, graphic artist Outi Heiskanen, theatre and film director Ralf Longbacka, architect Juha Leivisko, writer Veijo Meri, textile designer Vuokko Nurmesniemi, and conductor and composer Jorma Panula.”

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“Film festivals, for those who don’t know, are not exactly the glitzy red carpet affairs you see on TV. Those do happen, but they’re a tiny part of the festival. The main part of any film festival are the thousands of people with festival passes hanging on lanyards beneath their anoraks, carrying brochures for movies you have never and will never hear of, desperately scrabbling to sell whatever movie it is to buyers from all over the world. Every hotel bar, every cafe, every restaurant is filled to the brim with these people, talking loudly about non-existent deals. The Brits are the worst because most of the British film industry, with a few honourable exceptions, are scam artists and chancers who move around from company to company failing to get anything good made and trying to cast Danny Dyer in anything that moves. I’m seeing guys here who I first met twenty years ago and who are still wearing the same clothes, doing the same job (albeit for a different company) and spinning the same line of bullshit about how THIS movie has Al Pacino or Meryl Streep or George Clooney attached and, whilst that last one didn’t work out, THIS ONE is going to be HUGE. As the day goes on, they start drinking and it all gets ugly and, well, that’s why I’m the guy walking through the Tiergarten with a camera taking pictures of frozen lakes and pretending this isn’t happening.

“Berlin is cool, though and I’ve been lucky to be doing meetings with some people who want to actually get things done. We’ll see what comes of it.”
~ Julian Simpson 

“The difference between poetry and prose, and why if you’re not acculturated to poetry, you might resist it: that page is frightening. Why is it not filled? The two categories of people who don’t feel that way are children and prisoners. So many prison poets; they see that gap and experience it differently. I’m for the gap!”
~ Poet Eileen Myles