Movies Not to Miss: European Union Film Fest 2017
Writer: Casey Lee
There's even a film for kids! Check out "My Life As A Zucchini".
The European Union Film Festival (EUFF) is back with its 18th edition for 2017. Returning stronger than ever, this year's festival has a lineup of 23 films of award winning and blockbusting films from 17 member countries.
From dramas to documentaries, 23 films can be quite a bit to pack in if you are planning to see what are the best titles that Europe had to offer in the past years. While we would highly encourage everyone to see every title (not to mention the reduced ticket prices and free screenings) of the festival, for those who are looking to taste the finer things from the selection, we have our recommended picks that you should definitely make an effort to catch while the festival is in town.
So make sure to catch these movies when the EUFF reaches you at the Klang Valley on 19 to 29 October, Penang on 2 to 8 November, Kuching on 16 to 22 November and Kota Kinabalu on 30 November to 6 December.
Based on the true story of professional Finnish boxer Olli Maki, leading up to his historic World Boxing Association featherweight championship bout with Davey Moore in 1962. While having doubts and jitters about the fight, and having to deal with the pressure of making weight, Olli finds himself in love as he is about to enter the ring. Making shorts predominantly throughout his career, director Juho Kuosmanen's second feature length become a knockout hit for its unassuming direction and floating black and white cinematography. Winning awards from Chicago to Zurich, it reached its prolific peak when it won the Un Certain Regard at Cannes and took the sweepstakes at the Jussi Awards for its cast, direction and technical categories, leading it to be Finland's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.
When a married couple moves into a house that is too big for them, they decide to open up their home for friends and strangers to live in. As the residents of the commune grows, a clash of personalities, desires and affection starts to brew. Director Thomas Vinterberg is no stranger outside of European cinema, having his 2012's "The Hunt" nominated for an Oscar as well as numerous European award circuits (including the BAFTA). After a hushed and harshly criticised adaptation of "Far from the Maddening Crowd", Vinterberg returns to direct a Danish outing that garnered lead actress Trine Dyrholm a Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and Best Actress at the Bodil Awards.
A documentary that follows the migrants risking their lives to sail across the Mediterranean during the European migrant crisis, backdropped by the peaceful lives of Italian islanders of Lampedusa. After winning the grand Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, "Fire at Sea" was a major contender for the Best Documentary Feature at this year's Oscars and also Italy's representative for the Best Foreign Film award. Director Gianfranco Rosi's intimate and hybrid recording of these migrant lives was made to highlight the plight and dangers that migrants have to face to escape a more tragic event that is happening at their homes.
While not the most prolific entry on this list with only humble nominations at the Cesar and Lumiere awards in France, Olivier Babinet's "Swagger" can easily be mistaken for a fictional story with its dream-like qualities and silky cinematography that is not normally associated with a documentary. Make no mistake though, the subjects interviewed here are the children that come from the impoverish projects of France, but their despair doesn't stop them from having big dreams despite their unprivileged surroundings, which distinguishes "Swagger" to be a must-see.
When Courgette's mother dies from an accidental death, Courgette is sent to an orphanage with children whose parents have disappeared from various circumstances. Other than having to fend for himself from the other hostile kids, Courgette also has to learn how to live with love and trust when a new orphan girl is brought in. This Swiss-French collaborated stop-motion animation has been a major player in the animation field when it released back in 2016. It was running for an Oscar and Golden Globe as the Best Animation Feature and was also the Swiss representative for the Oscar of Best Foreign Film. Despite its child leads and soft looking characters, this adaptation of the Gilles Paris' novel deals with some hard realities of growing up from unloving homes that a more matured audience would also be able to feel and empathise.
Victoria is a Spanish girl who moved to Berlin three months ago. Finding new friends at a nightclub when she can barely speak German, she finds herself entangled in a secret that needs to be resolved in one night. Hollywood went ablaze with the single-take theatrics of Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu's "Birdman" in 2014, but a year later, Germany had its own answer with "Victoria". Self directed and starring actor-turned-director Sebastian Schipper, this mostly improvised performance paired with the breath-holding single take is a technical feat to behold that swooped 6 awards at the German Film Awards.
When the Pope is expected to visit Belgium in 1985, a market vendor seizes the opportunity to make a small fortune by opening businesses to cater for the millions of faithfuls expected to arrive to see the Pope. Based on true events of a family who were forced to risk everything for an opportunity, this feature debut by director Lenny Van Wesemael is a come-tragedy of overflowing optimism meeting a dysfunctional family, starring Wim Opbrouck and Chloe Daxhelet who won the Best Actor and Actress at the Aubagne International Film Festival.
Three friends with their own family and financial problems bet their luck on a lottery ticket to change their fortune. When they find out that the ticket they bought had the winning numbers, they realised that it had been stolen and must set out to find it. Director Paul Negoescu's second feature outing stars Dragos Bucur, Dorain Boguta and Alexandru Papadopol as the three lovable idiots in this road comedy movie that is riddled with misdirection and comedic confusion. "Two Lottery Tickets" was a crowd pleaser and favourite wherever it screened, from Beijing to Zurich, snagging numerous Audience Awards along the way, making this a comedy that should travel well with Malaysian audiences.
For those looking for some fine dining with their movies, this year's EUFF comes with this documentary of the world famous NOMU restaurant in Copenhagen attempting to see if they could serve Tokyo for a month. Television documentarian Maurice Dekkers makes his first feature, with a rare inside look in how one of the top restaurants in the world is still subject to the high-pressures of maintaining an image, while having to adapt to the palettes of its customers, and learning a different food culture altogether.
Cinema Online, 19 October 2017