The Other Side of Hope 12A (S)
Aki Kaurismäki (Le Havre) scooped the Best Director prize in Berlin with this comedy-drama about a Finnish travelling salesman (Sakari Kuosmanen) and a Syrian refugee (Sherwan Haji) crossing paths.
Our two protagonists have fled different things: asylum seeker Khaled (Haji) has escaped from Syria, whilst travelling salesman Wikström (Kuosmanen) has ran away from a miserable marriage. The pair forge an unlikely friendship, with Wikström giving Khaled a job in his bizarre sushi restaurant (where the wasabi is served in ice cream-like scoops), helping him get an ID card, and trying to help him find his sister, who got left behind en route.
Kaurismäki confronts the realities of refugee life with his usual dry, offbeat wit ("Look happy," an Iraqi refugee tells Khaled, because "the melancholy ones are always deported first"), and finds courage, hope, and kindness as his two mismatched outsiders try to rebuild their lives.