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Finland selects Le Havre as Oscar contender

Aki Kaurismaki’s Cannes competition title Le Havre will be Finland’s official contender for the Foreign Language Oscar.

A Finnish Film Chamber jury today (Sept 14) selected Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre as Finland’s official contender for the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Feature.

Starring André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Blondin Miguel (and Laïka, his dog, a 5th generation actress), Kaurismäki’s first film after the Helsinki/Loser Trilogy was released domestically last week (Sept 9) by Future Film Distribution.

Launched in competition at Cannes where it won the international critics’ FIPRESCI prize, the film went on to receive the award for Best International Feature at Germany’s FilmFest München, as well as the Audience Award at St Petersburg’s Kinoforum in Russia.

Shot with French dialogue, Le Havre is the story of a former author and well-known bohemian who has retreated from Paris to a voluntary exile in the port city of Le Havre. Now a shoe-shiner, he lives within the triangle of his favourite bar, his work and his wife, Arletty.

When Arletty is hospitalised, seriously ill, and an illegal immigrant boy from Africa needs his help, it is time for him to polish his shoes and reveal his teeth. ” ”I always preferred the version of the fairy tale where Little Red Riding Hood eats the wolf,” Kaurismäki said.

Finland’s first and so far only Oscar nomination went to Kaurismäki’s The Man Without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä) in 2002; Kaurismäki pulled out of the awards ceremony in protest at the US’ start of the war with Iraq, but has accepted his new candidacy.

However, a Finn  h a s  collected the Academy Award – Finnish producer Jörn Donner, for Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander) in 1984. And Donner sold Kaurismäki Bergman’s camera which he is still using.

Screening on Locarno’s Piazza Grande on its international festival circuit, Le Havre is sold by Germany’s The Match Factory. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the 2012 nominations on Jan 24 ahead of the 84th ceremony on Feb 26.

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