Aki Kaurismaki's 'Le Havre' Finland's Official Oscar Entry

 Cannes Film Festival

COLOGNE, Germany - Aki Kaurismaki's modern-day fairytale Le Havre will represent Finland in the upcoming Oscar race for best foreign language film. The French-language tale of a down-on-his-luck shoe shine man who helps an African refugee boy won the FIPRESCI film critics' prize in Cannes. Le Havre celebrated its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last week. Janus Films has U.S. rights to the film.

Kaurismaki, Finland's best-known director, was nominated for an Oscar for The Man Without A Past in 2003. But the helmer of Drifting Clouds and The Lenigrad Cowboys Go America has never won an Academy Award.

Though shot in French, Le Havre is pure Kaurismaki, full of laconic but life-affirming humor. It has been one of his best-ever reviewed films. Le Havre has been picking up trophies on the way to the Oscars, among them the ARRI prize for best international film at the Munich Film Festival and has made the short list, alongside Oscar winner The King's Speech, for this year's European Film Prize.

The film was produced by Kaurismaki's Sputnik Oy shingle together with Pyramide Productions in France and Germany's Pandora Film. It stars Andre Wilms, Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Kaurismaki regular Kati Outinen. The Match Factory is handling international sales.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will announce the five foreign language Oscar nominees Jan. 24. The winner will be announced Feb. 26 at the 84th Academy Awards.

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