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Outspoken director comes to Indian screens

May 06, 2008 10:39 IST

When it rains, it pours.

Indian television watchers are just about getting used to UTV's World Movies channel -- showcasing an intriguing catalogue of subtitled international cinema -- when NDTV has decided to throw its hat into the fray with NDTV Lumiere, another international cinema channel that should be hitting screens real soon.

One of the first directors Lumiere has managed to snag is 51-year-old Finn Aki Kaurismaki, an outspoken firebrand who began his directing career with 1983's Crime And Punishment, a modern Helsinki-based adaptation of Dostoevsky's novel.

Kaurismaki's The Man Without A Past won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2002, and while it was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2003, the director refused to attend the gala saying he didn't "feel like partying in a nation that is currently in a state of war." The next year Kaurismaki refused the nomination for his Lights In The Dusk in protest against George W Bush's foreign policy.

Also in 2003, he boycotted one of his favourite festivals, the 40th New York Film Festival, in a show of solidarity towards Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who was pointedly refused a visa to attend the festival. "I, too, am forced to cancel my participation -- for if the present government of the United States of America does not want an Iranian, they will hardly have any use for a Finn. We do not even have the oil," said Kaurismaki.

A simple, naturalistic storyteller, he has frequently traded actors with Jim Jarmusch, who even cameos in Aki's Leningrad Cowboys Go America. Both he and Jarmusch work with an understated -- but ever present -- humour in their films.

Now with Lumiere buying over 10 of Aki's 16 films, we can look forward to some soulful, heartbreaking, funny cinema.