Thursday, 21 March, 2019

Kaurismäki gives up honorary title to protest policies

14 Feb 2019, 21:31 ( 1 Month ago) | updated: 15 Feb 2019, 02:30 ( 1 Month ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Aki Kaurismäki Midnight Sun Film Festival 2012. commons.wikimedia.org Files by User:Soppakanuuna.

Film director Aki Kaurismäki on Thursday announced he wants to give up his honorary title as "Academician for Art" as a protest against the current Finnish forestry and mining policies.

In a letter to President Sauli Niinistö, the film director said that despite warnings by experts, the Finnish government has raised the annual cutdown of forests to "an unsustainable level that will reduce the forest carbon sink to a sixth of the present."

Kaurismäki claimed that the only basis for the Finnish decision is the price of pulp that is high due to the demand in Asia.

Last year, Finnish roundwood consumption reached 72 million cubic metres, according to Natural Resources Institute Finland. The institute confirmed it was the record amount so far.

The government has aimed at an increase up to 80 million. Public focus will be on the forest consumption again next week when the Finnish climate panel is to publish figures that political decision makers could use.

The current level of 72 million is not sufficient, if all current expansion plans of the industry are to be completed.

Kaurismäki also demanded that Finnish mining legislation has to be changed. He says that "any international mining giant" can reserve an area on Finnish soil and "extract ore and minerals without paying tax to Finland".

He said the current Finnish government pursues only the interests of "the faceless capital."

Now 61-year-old Kaurismäki has earlier protested against what he has considered societal evils. In 2002 he boycotted the Oscar gala as a protest against the U.S. attack on Iraq.

Local media has described Kaurismäki as the Finnish film director with the largest international acclaim. His awards include the Silver Bear director trophy in Berlin in 2017 and Medalla de Oro from Spain last year.

In 2002 his "Man without a past" came in second in Cannes and got the Grand prix award.

Academician is a Finnish honorary title that involves no financial benefits. Eleven persons can be Academicians of Art at the same time. They are presidential appointees.

Riitta Kaivosoja, the director for art and cultural policy at the Ministry of Education, told a Finnish language newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that there are no rules for giving up the title of an academician.

"The ministry will now ascertain whether an academician's own announcement is sufficient for removal from the list," she said.