This wry, melancholic comedy from Aki Kaurismäki—whose films the MFAH has premiered for more than three decades—speaks to the current refugee situation. Khaled (Sherwan Haji), a displaced Syrian, lands in Helsinki as a stowaway. Meanwhile, middle-aged salesman Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen) leaves behind his wife and job and improbably buys a seafood restaurant. Despite being denied asylum, Khaled remains in Finland, and the paths of the two men cross fortuitously.
A bittersweet tale of human kindness, The Other Side of Hope is as deadpan as the best of the director’s work, with a deep well of empathy for its down-but-not-out characters—many of them played by members of Kaurismäki's ever-reliable stock company.