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World premiere to benefit Sarasota French film festival

The United States premiere of Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's Leningrad Cowboys Go America will be held in Sarasota to benefit the Sarasota French Film Festival. The comedy, a tundra twist on This is Spinal Tap, chronicles the world's worst rock 'n' roll band's move to America, and eventually Mexico, in search of success.

Leningrad Cowboys Go America plays the Sarasota East 6 in the Sarasota Square Mall at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. It opens in November in New York.

Two of Kaurismaki's films, The Match Factory Girl and I Hired a Contract Killer, showed at the New York Film Festival in September. It is rare, and considered an honor, for two works by the same director to be shown at the New York Film Festival during the same year.

Kaurismaki directed his first film in 1983. His Crime and Punishment, a twisted homage to Dostoyevsky, concerns a murderous slaughterhouse worker in modern-day Helsinki. Kaurismaki became a national figure in Finland with his next picture, Calamari Union (1985), an absurdist comedy about 17 thugs all named Mike.

A trilogy of films about Finland's lower class _ Shadows in Paradise (1986), Ariel (1988) and The Match Factory (1989) _ brought Kaurismaki international recognition. Ariel played the New York Film Festival in 1989.

I Hired a Contract Killer (1990), which showed at this year's New York Film Festival with The Match Factory, concerns a London man unable to kill himself.

Tickets to Leningrad Cowboys Go America are $3.50 ($2 for students) and are available at the Sarasota East 6 at 8027 Beneva Road S or the Asolo Center for the Performing Arts.