Locarno Film Festival: 'Le Havre' Screening Highlights Wednesday

The Aki Kaurismaki film previously won the Cannes FIPRESCI film critic prize.

LOCARNO, Switzerland – The Piazza Grande screening of Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre was Wednesday’s highlight at the 68th Locarno Film Festival, where co-stars Andre Wilms and Kati Outinen charmed the full Piazza Grande crowd with a tribute to the Finnish auteur and a dose of self-deprecating humor.

The film, the tale of a writer-turned-shoe shiner who struggles to save an African refugee, screened in competition earlier this year in Cannes, where it won the FIPRESCI film critic prize. It made an equally strong impression in Locarno, where the biggest Piazza Grande crowd of the festival so far gave the film several minutes of enthusiastic applause at its end.

Wilms, the film's main character, said he owed his acting career to the film Rin Tin Tin: "When I saw a dog act, I figured it was something I can do." Outinen, meanwhile, a regular in Kaurismaki's films, called the director "a visual poet" and said there was no one else she preferred working with.

Also on Wednesday, Swiss screenwriter and director Villi Hermann was presented with the Ticino Cinema prize, the festival’s top honor reserved for a Swiss national. The award takes its name from the Swiss canton that includes Locarno. In accepting the award, even Hermann paid tribute to Kaurismaki, saying that the Ticino Cinema prize was a great honor but that the biggest gift for him was a chance to watch the latest Kaurismaki film in the Piazza Grande venue.

The festival, which began August 3, concludes with the closing ceremony and the presentation of the Golden Leopard Award on Saturday.