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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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“Any form of physical or sexual assault is a very serious matter, potentially a legal matter. But I’m also wondering, what about having some kind of “extreme asshole” clause? I know lots of people who have been abused verbally and psychologically. That’s traumatizing, too. What do we do with that?  It takes a lot of energy to be an asshole. The people I admire most just aren’t interested in things that take away from their ability to make stuff. The people I really respect, and that I’ve met who fit this definition, have a sense of grace about them, because they know that there is no evolving and there is no wisdom without humility. You can’t get better if you behave in a way that shuts people off. You can’t! You don’t have all the ideas necessary to solve something. You don’t! I’m sure if you spoke to Harvey in his heyday and said to him what I just said to you, he would believe that he accomplished all that he had because of the way he behaved.”
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