BY BILLY SUTER
TWELVE countries, including Ireland and Croatia for the first time, are represented in the European Film Festival, back for the fourth time at Cinema Nouveau cinemas in Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town from May 5 to 14.
The 2017 movie selection offers a variety of themes – from animal rights to family dynamics. Dramas and documentaries, comedies, tales of grief and a children’s adventure also feature on the programme.
Festival director Katarina Hedrén, who returns as the curator for the second time, is delighted with the pickings, according to a press release.
“With this year’s selection, which includes films of different genres, textures and moods, the aim is to entertain, amuse and offer opportunities for reflection, new discoveries and recognition,” she says.
“The theme binding the films is cinematic excellence. The films are new, but the commitment remains the same: to offer audiences in South Africa an opportunity to experience acclaimed and award-winning European cinema,” adds Hedrén.
Highlights include American Honey, an award-winning, British-made road movie set in America’s Mid-West, which is as much a magical mystery tour into Americana as it is a coming-of-age drama.
Also mentioned as a standout is King of the Belgians, a comedy about the Belgian king and his entourage crossing the Balkans in a madcap adventure, after learning of a coup back home. Acknowledged by the Rotterdam International Film Festival, this movie is described as a road trip with a difference, at once thoughtful, hilarious and wild.
Of note, too, is Strike a Pose, a Dutch documentary exploration of “Madonna’s men”, the male dancers who served to consolidate the pop icon’s message and status as an outspoken advocate for LGBT-rights.
This winner of a jury award at the Key West Film Festival is an unrelenting documentary which exposes new aspects of a well-known story.
There is also good talk, and Oscar buzz, of Germany’s Toni Erdmann, telling the outlandish tale of how the passing of a family dog sets off a series of events with a major impact on a father-daughter relationship.
“European filmmaking has seen another year of highly creative output, and filmmakers continue to produce works that challenge and uproot. We are happy that festival director Katarina Hedrén’s 2017 film selection has given even more variety to the European Film Festival,” says Norbert Spitz, director of the Goethe-Institut, on behalf of the European partners.
The European Film Festival is coordinated by the Goethe-Institut South Africa, hosted by Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau, and organised in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to South Africa and 12 other European cultural agencies or embassies in South Africa: the General Representation of the Government of Flanders, the French Institute, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Camões Institute, the British Council, and the Embassies of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
The European Film Festival is part of the EuropeFest, presenting in South Africa in May 2017 a diverse range of EU Member States cultural events.
The full European Film Festival 2017 line up is:
– Stefan Zweig: Farewell To Europe (Austria), drama, directed by Maria Schrader and starring Tómas Lemarquis, Barbara Sukowa and Josef Hader. German, English, Portuguese, French and Spanish with English subtitles. 106min (2016).
– King of the Belgians (Belgium), comedy, directed by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth and starring Peter Van den Begin, Lucie Debay, Bruno Georis and Pieter van der Houwen. Flemish, French, English and Bulgarian with English subtitles. 94min (2016).
– The High Sun (Croatia), drama, directed by Dalibor Matanic and starring Tihana Lazovic, Goran Markovic and Nives Ivankovic. Croatian with English subtitles. 123min (2015).
– Things To Come (France), drama, directed by Mia Hansen-Love and starring Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon and Roman Kolinka. French, German and English with English subtitles. 102min (2016).
– Toni Erdmann (Germany), drama, directed by Maren Ade and starring Sandra Hüller, Peter Simonischek and Michael Wittenborn. German with English subtitles. 162min (2016).
– The Queen of Ireland (Ireland), documentary, directed by Conor Horgan and starring Declan Buckley, Phillip McMahon and Una Mullally. English. 86 min (2015).
– Sweet Dreams (Italy), drama, directed by Marco Bellocchio and starring Bérénice Bejo, Valerio Mastandrea and Fabrizio Gifuni. Italian with English subtitles. 134min (2016).
– Strike a Pose (Netherlands), documentary, directed by Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan and starring Luis Camacho, Oliver S. Crumes III, Salim Gauwloos, Jose Gutierez, Kevin Stea, Carlton Wilborn and Gabriel Trupin. English. 83min (2016).
– Spoor (Poland), drama, directed by Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik and starring Agnieszka Mandat-Grabka, Wiktor Zborowski and Jakub Gierszal. Polish with English subtitles. 128min (2017).
– Game of Checkers (Portugal), drama, directed by Patrícia Sequeira and starring Ana Nave, Ana Padrão, Fátima Belo, Maria João Luís and Rita Blanco. Portuguese with English subtitles. 87min (2016).
– Zip & Zap and the Captain’s Island (Spain), children’s adventure, directed by Oskar Santos and starring Elena Anaya, Carolina Lapausa, Teo Planell, Tom Wilton, and Toni Gómez. Spanish with English subtitles. 105min: PG 8+ (2016).
– American Honey (UK), drama, directed by Andrea Arnold and starring Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough. 163min: English (2016).
Tickets for festival films cost R64 each. For booking information visit www.cinemanouveau.co.za or www.sterkinekor.com. For queries, contact Ticketline on 0861 Movies (668 437). Normal benefits and ticket discounts apply to members of SK Club, Discovery Vitality and Edgars Club.