Sherwan Haji, Simon Hussein al-Bazoon and Sakari Kuosmanen in a scene from Aki Kaurism?ki’s “The Other Side of Hope.”
Photo by Malla Hukkanen © Sputnik Oy courtesy of the Berlinale
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After six years of silence, cult Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki has returned to the screen with "The Other Side of Hope," a call for mercy toward migrants seeking asylum in Europe.Born in northeastern Syria, the film's 31-year-old lead Sherwan Haji ended up in Helsinki a year before the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, after falling in love with a Finnish woman in Damascus.During his acting studies in Damascus, Haji was introduced to Kaurismaki's work, first with "The Man Without a Past," 2002, which won the Cannes Film Festival's Grand Prix.Little did he guess that years later his first screen role would be as a Syrian refugee in a Kaurismaki movie.Kuosmanen, Haji's 60-year-old Finnish co-star, has acted in at least a dozen Kaurismaki films.
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