11 Precious Minutes with Aki Kaurismäki

Flix met up with Aki Kaurismäki at Thessaloniki on the occasion of a retrospective organized by the 53rd TIFF and chatted to him about capitalism (or Das Kapital, as he likes to call it), the clichés that are part and parcel of his reputation, the fear of dying and how unbearable life would be without humor. The only thing we didn’t really mention was cinema, but when you live and breathe film, there’s no point in talking about it

In fact, when you meet Aki Kaurismäki you don’t really need to talk about films at all – his or anyone else’s!

From the way he seizes you up to the way he lights his cigarette, the silences in-between his delicious aphorisms (he’s got one for every occasion!) and the endless trail of beer glasses he leaves behind, it’s plain to see that Aki Kaurismäki is the main character of his own filmography. It’s no coincidence that he knew exactly where the camera was every minute of the interview even though he never once looked at it!

A polite, melancholy humorist, an unrepentant left-wing intellectual and a citizen of the world, Aki Kaurismäki could very well be the director of his own life story, but like the perfectionist that he is, he refuses to put his name on it unless he’s got final cut. And no one knows how their life will end.

Kaurismäki is not afraid to admit he’s old-school and that cinema, and life in general, have passed him by. He does however strongly suggest that if we want to salvage whatever’s left of the world as we know it we need to revolt now. As for the clichés that seem to follow him around, he says they’re all true!

Truth be told, when you meet Aki Kaurismäki you don’t really need to talk. The only thing you have to do is listen.