Eclectic mix of works showing at European Film Festival 2011
The 11th edition of the European Film Festival, which kicked off last Friday, is bringing local film fans quite an interesting collection of works from across the continent. The films being screened are a celebration of diversity and show the power of film as a unifying element that can cross boundaries. Here are some highlights of the festival, which runs until November 2.
The picture representing Germany, Schwerkraft (Gravity), is a mix of crime, drama and romance. This modern day Robin Hood-styled tale asks the question “Who is the greater criminal: He who robs a bank or he who founds one?” The 2009 thriller follows a bank employee who is already on the edge and when he witnesses a man committing suicide he is further driven into a world of fantasy and crime. Maximilian Erlenwein’s directorial debut is another proof that German film-making scene is alive and thriving.
The 2009 Czech film Protektor, set during the Nazi occupation, was the country’s submission for the 82nd Academy Awards. Films about the plight of the Jews in World War II have always captured the audience’s interest but Protektor offers a different slant on the subject. This is the story of a couple, where the husband vows to protect his Jewish wife at all costs. This means he has to do distasteful things and their marriage is tested in new ways. With beautiful and colourful cinematography, the film has a noir feel to it that makes it a clear exercise in style.
Dutch entry De Storm has the 1953 North Sea flood disaster as its backdrop. Winner of various awards, this melodramatic film depicts a single mother searching for her lost baby with the help of a naval officer. This film is directed by Ben Sombogaart who had received an Academy Award nomination in 2002 for his film Twin Sisters.
The 2009 Slovenian film Slovenka (Slovenian Girl) tells the harrowing story of a young girl who is a student by day and a call girl by night. Revolving around the strong performance by Nina Ivanišin, the film is a complex study not only of the character but also of the fluctuating social conditions she is living in. This is a story of manipulation and ambition but the problem lies in who is actually manipulating who. The film highlights the aimlessness of some individuals on a society that feeds on the souls of its inhabitants. The result is an apathetic and bitter girl which Nina Ivanišin so excellently brings to the screen. This film was screened in more than 60 international festivals.
The Portuguese entry is titled Eccentricities of a Blonde Haired Girl. Directed by Manoel de Oliveira, when he had just turned 100 years of age, Eccentricities is a subtle farce. The film follows an accountant who falls in love with an exciting blonde from across the street, much to his uncle’s disapproval. The film is economical in its approach, atmospheric and very light in its touch and wears its emotions on its sleeve. The film won the Portuguese equivalent of the Golden Globe for best actress for Catarina Wallenstein.
Bulgarian film Tilt tells the story of four friends and their efforts to open a bar, their relationships, their affairs and the changes they go through. It is a tale of romance and how the difficulties of emigration, crime and violence in one’s homeland can leave such a mark on an individual. Tilt is not just about how the protagonists change but also on how Bulgaria has changed so drastically in recent times. The film represented Bulgaria in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 84th Academy Awards and won the best editing award at the Woodstock Film Festival.
The festival is being organised by the European Commission Representation in Malta and in collaboration with Media Desk. For a full schedule of films download the full programme from the news section of the European Commission website http://ec.europa.eu/malta . All films are being screened at 6.30 p.m at Dar l-Ewropa, St Paul Str, Valletta. Entrance is free but donations in aid of YMCA Malta are welcome. Bookings are on a first-come, first-served basis and are to be made by phone on 2342 5000.