Archive of films Le Havre / Le Havre

Finland / France / Germany
2011, 93 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2011

Marcel lives a quiet life shining shoes until he is forced to act and help an African refugee. The film, shot in Kaurismäki’s typical style, is gently enhanced by a social theme that gives it a certain urgency. The tragicomedy was successfully shown in competition at the Cannes IFF where it took the FIPRESCI Prize.


Le Havre might be a good place if you’re looking to find seclusion, live a quiet life, and inconspicuously watch other people. This is just what Marcel Marx thinks, a man who observes those around him as he shines shoes, invisible to most passersby. Not earning much at his vocation, he must buy a baguette on credit for a humble dinner with his wife, but you can’t buy peace of mind at any price. Then suddenly his ascetic calm is disrupted by two events: his wife becomes seriously ill, and he meets an African boy who is fleeing to London two steps ahead of the police. Can this sudden pileup of tense situations be favorably resolved? The movie is shot in Kaurismäki’s typical lethargic style, full of jokes so subtle that it’s hard to be sure if they were even intended as jokes at all. Simple shot composition, precise and heartfelt acting, and original set decoration full of old but intact furniture give the work and its social dimension a touch of timelessness.

About the director

Aki Kaurismäki (b. 1957, Orimattila, Finland), a regular guest at the most prestigious film festivals, is one of Europe’s most unique directors and screenwriters working today. He started out as an actor in the films of his brother Mika (The Worthless / Arvottomat, 1982), and as a director he debuted in features with an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (Rikos ja rangaistus, 1983) before gaining fame with Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989). His films Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin valot, 2006), The Man Without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä, 2002 – nominated for an Oscar), and "the last silent film of the 20th century,” Juha (1999), were presented at the Karlovy Vary festival and made it into Czech distribution. In 1992 the Karlovy Vary IFF organized a retrospective of Kaurismäki’s work.


CinemArt, a.s.
Národní 60/28, 111 21, Praha 1
Czech Republic
Tel: +420 224 949 110, +420 221 105 230
Fax: +420 221 105 220

The Match Factory
Domstrasse 60, 50668, Cologne
Tel: +49 221 539 709-0

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Horizons
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Screenplay: Aki Kaurismäki
Dir. of Photography: Timo Salminen
Editor: Timo Linnasalo
Producer: Aki Kaurismäki
Production: Sputnik Oy, Pyramide Productions, Pandora Film
Cast: André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Blondin Miguel
Contact: CinemArt, a.s., The Match Factory
Distributor: CinemArt, a.s.


Ivana Košuličová

Film Institution Rep.

Thania Dimitrakopoulou

Sales Agent

Jan Jíra



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