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Jarkko Lahti as the Finnish featherweight boxer, Olli Mäki, and in the ring, Eero Milonoff, who plays Mäki’s trainer, Elis Ask. Picture: Kuokkasen Kuvaamo, © Elokuvayhtiö Aamu 2016

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki grabs the award for the best film in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard competition on Saturday.

This is the first award in the category for a film from Finland.


“Thank you for your weird taste in cinema,” said director Juho Kuosmanen, while receiving the award. “I am so surprised and happy.”

The black-and-white film tells the story of a talented Finnish boxer, Olli Mäki (played by Jarkko Lahti), who has a chance to win the world title, but is distracted by a love affair to beautiful Raija, played by Oona Airola.

In 1962, Mäki faces the American title holder Davey Moore in a featherweight world championship bout at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium.

The day, according to Mäki, was the happiest day of his life.

The film competed with 17 other high-profile titles.

Reviewers have praised the film. The Hollywood reporter said it contains a “delicate balance of humor, melancholy and human insight.” Screen Daily described the film as “more contemplative, inspirational and sweet than brutal and action-packed.”

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki premieres in Finland on September 2.