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In true cinema style, the European Film Festival’s curtains will be drawn on 21 June as SA film enthusiasts get the opportunity to experience the best in European cinema titles.Back in South Africa for a 5th year, the festival (which runs from 22 June to 1 July 2018 at Cinema Nouveau: Rosebank, Brooklyn and V&A Waterfront) will showcase ten films selected from Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom – a collection of diverse worldly stories.
‘The biggest achievement in this selection has been securing films by award-winning first-time and emerging women filmmakers who have come out with bold cinematic offerings,’ says Lesedi Oluko – EUFF 2018 Curator. She explains that she and co-curator Margherita Di Paolo sought to locate strong character-driven films that are entertaining as well as diverse in story and locality. ‘These films stand on par with the established names programmed in this edition.’
Motheo Matsau, Chief of Marketing and Sales at Ster-Kinekor Theatres, adds: “Our Nouveau cinemas are tantamount with the screening of the very best in art-house and foreign language content from across the globe, and the European Film Festival films certainly delivers on that promise.”
The festival opens with BAFTA Award-Winning I Am Not A Witch by Rungano Nyoni. Set in a Zambian village, the film follows 9-year-old Shula as she is banished to a camp (and tourist site) for women accused of being witches. Nyoni’s timely directorial feature debut tackles superstition, sexism, and the absurdity of outdated traditions.
Carla Simón’s (ES) first feature Verano 1993 (Summer 1993), is a well-crafted and poignant story of a six-year-old girl who after losing her parents tries to adjust to her new life with her adopted family. With strikingly superb performances, the film eloquently journeys through love, loss and belonging. It won the Best First Feature and the Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, the Goya for Best New Director and was Spain’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
In Gabriela Pichler’s (SE) second feature film, Amateurs, two teenagers set out to showcase the communal heartbeat of their economically declining provincial town. Set against the backdrop of the municipality’s desires to pursue the construction of a multinational chain store, the film merges humour and social commentary as it humanises the people that have been long term residents, as well as immigrants that have chosen to call this small town their home.
Austrian author and filmmaker, Barbara Albert’s Mademoiselle Paradis which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to glowing reviews. Based on the story of prolific 18th Century blind Viennese pianist, Maria Theresia von Paradis, the film charts her relationship with a physician tasked with restoring her sight. Maria Dragus delivers an unforgettable performance that draws you into the world of Mademoiselle Paradis’ as she navigates adolescence through the burdensome politics of 18th Century class and gender norms.
In The Fade is Fatih Akin’s (DE) latest film and winner of the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. In this moving portrait of the modern condition in parts of Europe, a bomb attack changes the life of a woman who loses her husband and son. As she goes through the process of grieving, the official court case reveals two young right-wing extremists are the cause of the attack. The film hauntingly follows her journey to closure as she navigates through the meaning of her life in the absence of her loved ones.
These are only a few of the remarkably produced films that the South African audience can look forward to seeing. One of the festival’s objectives is to showcase and encourage exchange and collaborations between European and African film industries. And with this 5th edition, film enthusiasts will be treated to one such Afro-Euro collaboration with the screening of the award winning I Am Not A Witch. ‘The European Film Festival gives the opportunity to present outstanding cinematic productions, while at the same time promoting better understanding of Europe’s diversity, and addressing current issues, such as migration, discrimination and terrorism, that are relevant not only in Europe but also globally,’ explains Dr Geraldine Reymenants, Chairperson of EUNIC ZA.