Berlin: Aki Kaurismaki Wins Best Director for 'The Other Side of Hope'

Aki Kaurismaki

The story about a Syrian refugee who travels to Finland was one of the best-reviewed films out of this year's festival.

Aki Kaurismaki on Saturday won the Berlin International Film Festival's Silver Bear for best director for The Other Side of Hope, a dramedy that finds the humanity, and humor, in the European refugee crisis.

The film centers on a Syrian refugee (Sherwan Haji) who hides away on a freighter to Helsinki, where he hopes to apply for asylum. When his application is rejected, he flees and is forced to live on the streets, but is taken in by an eccentric traveling salesman turned failing restauranteur (Kaurismaki regular Sakari Kuosmanen).

The movie has been touted as the second in a planned immigration trilogy, which started with 2011's Le Havre, which follows an African boy who arrives by cargo ship to France. But speaking to Finnish broadcaster YLE earlier this week, Kaurismaki said Other Side of Hope would be his last film as a director.

Kaurismaki has helmed 18 feature films, going back to 1983's Crime and Punishment. His deadpan style and long single takes are often cited as a major influence on the work of Jim Jarmusch.

The veteran director is best-known for his 2003 dramedy The Man Without a Past, which was nominated for a best foreign-language film Oscar. Kaurismaki at the time boycotted the Academy Awards gala to protest U.S. foreign policy in Iraq.