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July 27, 2011 6:27 AM
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Aki Kaurismaki's Acclaimed "Le Havre" Heads To Janus Films

Aki Kaurismaki's "Le Havre." Cannes Film Festival.

Janus Films has acquired North American rights to Aki Kaurismaki's "Le Havre," which premiered to rave reviews in competition at Cannes earlier this year.

"With its bouncy soundtrack, deadpan humor and good-natured disposition, Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's 'Le Havre' is an endearing affair," Eric Kohn wrote on indieWIRE's review. "Combining his clownish storytelling with a life-affirming plot, Kaurismaki churns a fundamental scenario through his own unique narrative tendencies, yielding a product both heartwarming and irreverent, two qualities that should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his distinctive touch. Beyond that, it also introduces an element of political commentary to the director's work that deepens its impact."

Janus will release the film by the end of 2011. Full press release below.

Janus Films has acquired North American rights to Aki Kaurismaeki's much-acclaimed Le Havre, which premiered in competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival. A political fairy tale that takes inspiration from the French cinema of the 1930s, Le Havre finds Kaurismaeki working in France for the first time since his 1992 art house hit La Vie de Boheme.

In this warm-hearted portrait of the harbor city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (newcomer Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (Andre Wilms, Europa Europa), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoe-shiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering solidarity of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. In addition to Wilms and Miguel, Le Havre stars Kati Outinen (The Man Without a Past) and Jean-Pierre Darroussin (A Very Long Engagement). Le Havre was co-produced by Fabienne Vonier (The Barbarian Invasions) and Reinhard Brundig (Winged Migration).

"We are thrilled that Aki Kaurismaeki has entrusted us with this jewel of a film," said Peter Becker, president of the Criterion Collection and a partner in Janus Films. "It is one of those rare movie experiences so filled with hope, love, compassion, and humor that it will leave audiences glowing."

Le Havre is the second theatrical collaboration between Janus Films and sales company The Match Factory, following the 2009 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film Revanche. Michael Weber, managing director of The Match Factory stated, "We are delighted to partner again with Janus Films. Janus has the perfect profile to be the home of Le Havre, which sold strongly in Cannes to over 40 territories after its overwhelming reception at the premiere. I'm sure it will be embraced by the US audience just as warmly."

Films We Like will handle distribution for Canada. Founded by award-winning documentary filmmaker Ron Mann, (Grass, Comic Book Confidential) Films We Like is a boutique distributor of documentary, independent and international films in Canada. Recent releases include: Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, Bill Cunningham New York, and the Cannes Palme D'or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

Le Havre's expected theatrical release is fall 2011.

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