By BRUCE DENNILL
The European Film Festival will be held simultaneously at Cinema Nouveau theatres in the three cities from 29 November to 8 December. The festival is packed with Oscar-nominated and multi-award-winning films from twelve countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
See eurofilmfest.co.za for detailed synopses, trailers and links to the screening schedule and ticket bookings.
Push / Directed by Fredrik Gertten / A
A film that is hugely more enjoyable and intriguing than its subject matter might initially suggest, this Swedish documentary follows Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, as she investigates a desperately worrying but instantly familiar phenomenon – the enforced leaving of cities by former residents who can simply no longer afford to live in homes they may have occupied for decades. How fast this is happening and the hopelessness felt by those affected are both distressing, as is the heartlessness of the massive multi-national corporates at the core of the problem. Farha is an impressive, sympathetic figure, convincing in terms of her expertise and inspiring in terms of her courage and drive to see not only justice done to those wronged but sense made of the whole worrying mess. The subject matter here affects everyone, from those without homes and hoping one day to remedy that situation all the way up to residents of beautiful homes in fashionable suburbs. This is unsettling viewing.
Cold War / Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski / 16
Pawel Pawlikowski’s depiction of a flawed romance beginning in Poland just after World War Two and continuing around Europe as musicians Zula (Joanna Kulig) and Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) cross paths coincidentally or otherwise over many years is magnificently made. Shot in black and white, it feels completely, authentically of its time, not only visually, but in the political attitudes at play and the reactions the characters have to take to preserve their livelihoods and perhaps, continued existence. The film is never flowery – the realism of the plot and the cinematography never allow for that – but the love story at its heart is compelling because the protagonists, imperfect, emotionally scarred and occasionally selfish as they are, share such a strong bond that their ever being permanently apart simply feels wrong. Gorgeous to look at, never rushed, and a wonderful break from the clichés of Hollywood.
Les Misérables: Inspired by the Paris riots of 2005, witnessed first-hand by director Ladj Ly. France
Styx: Depicts the transformation of a woman sailor when she becomes the only person to come to the aid of a group of refugees shipwrecked on the high seas. Austria
Girl: Lara, 15, wants to become a ballerina, but was born into the body of a boy, and is undergoing treatment in preparation for gender reassignment. Belgium
System Crasher: This intense journey witnesses the untamed high-energy antics of nine-year old Benni as she swings from sweetness to aggressive wild-child. Germany
Rosie: A riveting account of a remarkable woman trying to protect her loved ones and maintain their dignity when they lose their home. Ireland
The Vice of Hope: A social drama about poverty, African immigration, human trafficking and the surrogacy business in towns around Naples. Italy
My Extraordinary Summer With Tess: A sensitive coming-of-age drama following a young boy and a girl on their paths of self-discovery as they cross the threshold from childhood to adolescence. The Netherlands
Diamantino: Romantic sci-fi satire about a megastar footballer who falls victim of a government cloning plot. Portugal
Pain and Glory: A series of re-encounters experienced by a film director in physical decline, and his need to recover meaning and hope. Spain
Official Secrets: The gripping story of Katharine Gun, a British intelligence specialist who leaks a memo in which the United States enlists Britain’s help in collecting compromising information. UK