Mika Kaurismäki

Mika Kaurismäki

Mika Kaurismäki (2009)
Born (1955-09-21) 21 September 1955
Orimattila, Finland
Occupation film director

Mika Juhani Kaurismäki (Finnish: [ˈmikɑ ˈkɑurismæki]; born 21 September 1955) is a Finnish film director.


Mika Kaurismäki is the elder brother of Aki Kaurismäki, and the father of Maria Kaurismäki, who graduated from Tampere School of Art and Media in 2008 with her movie Sideline.[1][2]

Mika Kaurismäki has lived in Brazil since approximately 1992 and has made several Brazilian-themed films, including Amazon, Tigrero, Sambólico, Rytmi, and Moro no Brasil. His film Brasileirinho is a 2005 musical documentary about traditional Brazilian choro music.

Mika Kaurismäki's first film, The Liar (1980), was an overnight sensation, when first shown in Finland; it marked the beginning of the Kaurismäki brothers' film career and started a new era in Finnish cinema.

After high school Mika Kaurismäki worked as a painter of houses and apartments in the small town of Kuusankoski in the southeastern part of Finland. In the autumn of 1976, when the winter was coming and the annual high season for painting houses was over, he thought of doing something else in life. Still wearing his painter overalls, he walked into a bookstore and bought the newly published History of Cinema by Peter von Bagh. He started reading it from page one and decided to become a film director.

Mika Kaurismäki studied cinema in Munich, Germany, at the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen (1977–1981); The Liar (1980), made in Finland, was his diplom film. His younger brother Aki Kaurismäki, then a student of journalism, played the main role and also co-wrote the screenplay. After the success of The Liar, Mika Kaurismäki decided to stay in Finland and together with his brother and some friends he founded the production company Villealfa Filmproductions, which soon became a home of vital low- or no-budget film making; by the end of the 1980s it was the third biggest film production company of all time in Finland. The Villealfa film family consisted of many colleagues and friends in addition to the Kaurismäki brothers, including the actors Matti Pellonpää and Kari Väänänen and the cinematographer Timo Salminen. Mika's 1984 film The Clan – Tale of the Frogs was entered into the 14th Moscow International Film Festival.[3]

Aki Kaurismäki, who had worked as Mika's assistant and a screenwriter, began his career as a director when Mika produced his first film Crime and Punishment (1984). During the active Villealfa years, Mika co-founded the Midnight Sun Film Festival (1986) and the distribution company Senso Films (1987) and the Andorra cinemas in Helsinki.

The 1990s saw the gradual fading of the Villealfa spirit; Mika and Aki started to produce their films separately, through their own production companies. Mika had founded Marianna Films in 1987 and its first independent production was Zombie and the Ghost Train (1991).

Over the course of the 1990s Mika established his base and second home in Rio de Janeiro, and started to concentrate more in international co-productions. In 1995 in Philadelphia he directed the no-budget thriller Condition Red with James Russo, Cynda Williams and Paul Calderon. Condition Red was entered into the 19th Moscow International Film Festival.[4] His biggest production so far is the comedy L.A. Without a Map (1998), with David Tennant, Julie Delpy, Vincent Gallo, Johnny Depp, James Le Gros, Anouk Aimee, Joe Dallesandro etc.

During the production of Moro no Brasil (2002) Kaurismäki opened a live music club, “Mika'’s Bar,” in Rio de Janeiro, but gave it up later and decided to concentrate primarily on film making. In 2003 he was a member of the jury at the 25th Moscow International Film Festival.[5]

The Road North, starring Vesa-Matti Loiri and Samuli Edelmann, premiered in Finland on August 24, 2012, and has been a success with more than 200.000 viewers by the end of September 2012. Kaurismäki is the producer and co-writer of the 2012 documentary film The King – Jari Litmanen which tells about the career of Finnish footballer Jari Litmanen.[6]


Kaurismäki has made films in several languages, most commonly English, Finnish and Portuguese. Below, the original titles of the movies are shown in parentheses.


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