Aki Kaurismäki was born on 4 April 1957 in Orimattile or Helsinki (Finland). After some jobs as a postman, dish-washer and film critic he formed his own production and distribution company, Villealfa (in homage to Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville, a strange adventure of Lemmy Caution from 1965) with his older brother Mika Kaurismäki, also a film-maker. They both are prolific film-makers, and together have been responsible for one-fifth of the total output of the Finnish film industry since the early 1980s, though Aki's work has found more favour abroad. His films are quite short - he says a film should never run longer than 90 minutes, and many of his films are nearer 70. They are eccentric parodies of various genres (road movies, film noir, rock musicals), populated by lugubrious hard-drinking Finns and set to eclectic soundtracks, typically based around 1950s rock'n'roll. In the 1990s he has made films in Britain (I hired a contract killer, 1990) and France (La vie de bohème, 1992). He is extremely self-deprecating about his work - of Leningrad Cowboys go America (1989) - probably his most popular film -, he says "it's the worst film in the history of the cinema, unless you count Sylvester Stallone's films".
The main themes in Aki Kaurismäkis movies are pessimism, tragedy, sadness, irony and humour and several of them feature Finnish actors Matti Pellonpää and / or Kati Outinen. His three movies Shadows in Paradise (1986), Ariel (1988) and The match factory girl (1990) were named his "Proletarian trilogy" by the critics.