Mixing drama with humour

Organizers of the Kitchen Stove Film Series were forced to replace the film they expected to show for January.

Blondin Miguel as Idrissa and André Wilms as Marcel Marx star in Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre

Blondin Miguel as Idrissa and André Wilms as Marcel Marx star in Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre

Organizers of the Kitchen Stove Film Series were forced to make a late change to their schedule and replace the film they expected to show for January.

So while the tickets might say A Desperate Method, the upcoming Kitchen Stove film set to screen next Thursday at the Pen-Mar Cinema will actually be Le Havre, by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki.

The situation arose, explained Rosemarie Fulbrook, one of the film series organizers, because many of the films don’t have firm release dates when the committee needs to choose the films. That’s especially a problem for the fall season, which stretches over five months with a break in December.

“We are actually selecting these movies way back in August,” said Fulbrook. A Dangerous Method was one of the films that didn’t have a release date, though it was targeted for September. That date was pushed back to November and then again to Jan. 13.

“But it gets to the big distributors first and naturally, we are a small film series, so we don’t get first dibs,” said Fulbrook. The Kitchen Stove committee was asked in early December to chose another film.

Le Havre was one that had caught our attention,” said Fulbrook. “We actually had thought to book it for our spring series, but it happened to be available when we needed it for January.”

Le Havre takes on illegal immigration as its subject. Set in the French port city that gives the film its name, the film is a political fairy tale starring Blondin Miguel as Idrissa, a young African refugee that fate leads into the path of Marcel Marx (played by André Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoeshiner.

With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marx stands up to officials pursuing the boy for deportation.

“The European cinema has not much addressed the continuously worsening financial, political, and above all, moral crisis that has lead to the ever-unsolved question of refugees; refugees trying to find their way into the EU from abroad, and their irregular, often substandard treatment,” said Kaurismäki. “I have no answer to this problem, but I still wanted to deal with this matter in this somewhat unrealistic film.”

Another factor in the decision to screen Le Havre, according to Fulbrook, is that illegal immigration is a hot issue in Canada as well as in Europe, an issue that societies have to deal with.

And, she continued, she finds the events portrayed in the film compelling, with the young immigrant matched up with an established member of the community.

“It wasn’t a scenario that you would normally find,” said Fulbrook. “If you find someone who is an illegal immigrant, you tend to rely on the government to deal with them.”

Fulbrook said that Le Havre seems to have a gentle humorous tone to it, which is very hard to achieve in a film.

“Even though it deals with some pretty intense subject matter, it seems to approach it that way,” she said. “To me that is interesting, where you are taking a situation that is fraught with difficulty and tension and then treating it in a more gentle humane manner. I like that.”

Le Havre will be have two showings at the Pen-Mar, at 4 and 7 p.m. on Jan. 19.

This will be the last film of the fall season but the spring season begins next month.

Fulbrook said all four films have been picked out, including the February film, Monsieur Lazhar.

That film, by Québécois director Philippe Falardeau, is the Canadian entry into the foreign language category for the 2012 Oscars.