THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MÄKI
Winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, this impressive debut from Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen is based on the true story and follows the buildup of the 1962 world featherweight championship title match in Helsinki between Finland's Olli Mäki (a delightfully appealing Jarkko Lahti) and the champion, American Davey Moore. Exquisitely shot in 16mm black and white with a meticulous eye for period detail, the film centers on Olli's relationships with his overbearing manager and with Raija (a radiant Oona Airola), a young woman for whom he has fallen head over heels. All of this is magnified under the mounting pressure Olli faces as he trains and struggles to drop weight while dealing with the unrelenting demands of the media. This is a boxing drama on the surface, but underneath, Kuosmanen has constructed a love story about a young man's fight to balance his expectations and desires. — Christopher Chou
Born in 1979, Juho Kuosmanen has worked in film, theater and opera. His short films have received awards from many prestigious international festivals, including Cannes and Locarno. THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MÄKI, his debut feature, was part of Script & Pitch 2014.