Mika Kaurismäki

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Mika Kaurismäki
Mika Kaurismäki.jpg
Kaurismäki in 2009
Born (1955-09-21) 21 September 1955 (age 67)
Orimattila, Finland
OccupationFilm director

Mika Juhani Kaurismäki (Finnish: [ˈmikɑ ˈkɑu̯rismæki]; born 21 September 1955) is a Finnish film director.[1]


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.[2][3]

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

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, 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.

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.[4]

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 Calderón. Condition Red was entered into the 19th Moscow International Film Festival.[5] His biggest production so far is the comedy L.A. Without a Map (1998), with David Tennant, Julie Delpy, Vincent Gallo, Johnny Depp, James LeGros, Anouk Aimée, 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.[6]

The Road North, starring Vesa-Matti Loiri and Samuli Edelmann, premiered in Finland on 24 August 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.[7]

Gracious Night, starring Timo Torikka, Pertti Sveholm and Kari Heiskanen, premiered in 2020, in the Estonian Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.[8]


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


  1. ^ Mitchell2020-11-30T10:20:00+00:00, Wendy. "Mika Kaurismäki on why he hit the bar in lockdown with 'Gracious Night'". Screen. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
  2. ^ IMDb: Maria Kaurismäki
  3. ^ Sideline movie Archived 6 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "14th Moscow International Film Festival (1985)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 March 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  5. ^ "19th Moscow International Film Festival (1995)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  6. ^ "25th Moscow International Film Festival (2003)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  7. ^ The King – Jari Litmanen Archived 11 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine The Yellow Affair. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Gracious Night". Retrieved 19 July 2022.

Further reading

External links