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Aki Kaurismäki, born in 1957, is a Finnish filmmaker known for his offbeat, deadpan style. One of cinema's great humanists, his films explore the misfortunes of Helsinki's misfits with great affection and humour. Although influenced by filmmakers such as Robert Bresson and Luis Buñuel, Kaurismäki has a distinctive style of his own, recognisable by his economical visuals and eclectic soundtracks of vintage pop/rock music.
Abdellatif Kechiche is a Tunisian-French director who usually casts amateur actors. In 2007, 'Couscous' won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. His most internationally successful film 'Blue is the Warmest Colour', based on the graphic novel of the same name, won the 2013 Palme d'Or which Kechiche shared on stage with his lead actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos.
Abbas Kiarostami is one of the true masters of contemporary cinema. Born in Iran in 1940, Kiarostami has won the admiration of audiences and critics alike with films such as 'A Taste of Cherry', for which he won the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. A slow, meditative pace, references to Persian poetry and philosophy, and filming in different languages outside of his native country are all trademarks of his work.
One of the most important figures of European cinema, Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941-1996), spent much of his life behind Poland's post-war communist regime. He started his career as a documentarian but soon discarded many of his political ideas to explore metaphysical themes surrounding the paradoxes of the universe. His masterful 'Three Colours Triology' (1993-94) has had few parallels in the history of cinema.
He has dominated American TV with the hugely successful 'Law & Order' franchise, but Ted Kotcheff's feature work is dominated by two films. Forgetting the absurd sequels, 'First Blood' (1982), which marked the screen debut of John Rambo, is a stunning action thriller. Sylvester Stallone is controlled angst, Brian Dennehey makes for a great villain as a prejudiced small town sheriff and the action set pieces set the template for the 1980s blockbuster musclemen movies. Restored and re-released in 2014, 'Wake in Fright' (1971) is filmed as one long nightmare. A schoolteacher plans to go home for his Christmas holidays but is waylaid on his journey from the outback in a rough mining town and the next two weeks see him enter his own kind of hell. 'Uncommon Valor' (1983), 'Switching Channels' (1988) and high-jinks comedy 'Weekend at Bernie's' (1989) are fun but 'First Blood' and 'Wake in Fright' stand alone.