Monday, May 13, 2013

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: European Union Film Festival, May 16-26, 2013

The long-running European Union Film Festival joins hands with SF cinemas this year to bring 18 acclaimed and popular recent movies from 15 countries for free screenings Bangkok.

The fest will also be held at the new SF multiplex in Chiang Mai, and for the first time, a mini-program of five English- and Thai-subtitled films in Khon Kaen.

In Bangkok, it will be held from May 16 to 26 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. The move to SFW CentralWorld is a welcome change from the past several years, when the EU Film Festival was held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre – an inadequate venue for films, in my opinion.

As always, the tickets are free, which means you'll have to queue up. Tickets start being handed out 30 minutes before showtime, but in reality you'll want to get in line much earlier in order to ensure you get a decent seat. If you wait too late, you might end up straining your neck in the front row. This is always a popular festival, especially with the balloon-chasers who only turn up for free events, so brace yourself for long lines.

One thing I am uncertain of at this time is what format the movies are screening in – hopefully not DVD.

Five of them will have Thai subtitles in addition to English subs and will be shown in Khon Kaen. They are Tomboy from France (which has screened her before in a run at House), Cool Kids Don’t Cry from the Netherlands, The Death of Carlos Gardel from Portugal, Medal of Honour from Romania and the World War II drama Frozen Silence from Spain.

Here’s the line-up:

Protector (Protektor), Czech Republic, 2009 – A Czech journalist joins a Prague radio station that broadcasts Nazi propaganda in order to protect his Jewish wife. It was a winner of several Czech Lions awards, including best actress and best director.

A Funny Man (Dirch), Denmark, 2011 – This biographical drama chronicles the life of the prolific Danish actor and comedian Dirch Passer. It won several awards at home.

This Life (Hvidsten Gruppen), Denmark, 2012 – A popular entry at the Danish box office, this fact-based drama recalls the fighting spirit of the Fiils, a family of innkeepers who led the resistance against the Nazis. It won four awards.

Stars Above (Tähtitaivas talon yllä), Finland, 2012 – The stories of three women from the same family in the same country house are followed across three decades from the wartorn 1940s to the colourful 1970s and finally the present day.

Tomboy, France, 2011 – A 10-year-old girl is mistaken for a boy when she moves to a new neighborhood and embraces her new identity has she makes new friends. It won many awards, including the Teddy at the Berlin fest and prizes at several gay and lesbian fests.

Goethe!, Germany, 2010 – A starry-eyed young Goethe flunks his oral exams at law school and is sent by his angry father to the Imperial High Court in Wetzlar. There, he falls in love with a woman who is promised to another man. The sorrowful experience inspires him to write a novel that makes him an overnight success. It won a German Film Award for best makeup and was nominated for many more.

3 (Drei), Germany, 2010 – Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Cloud Atlas) directs this drama about the romantic triangle that forms when a long-married couple bring a man into their bed. A nominee for the Golden Lion in Venice, 3 won three German Film Awards, including best director and best actress.

The Last Rhapsody (Utolsó Rapszódia), Hungary, 2011 – The final days of composer Franz Liszt’s life are recalled, including his friendship with German composer Richard Wagner.

The Entrepreneur (L’Industriale), Italy, 2011 – A 40-year-old factory owner faces a crisis on two fronts when his factory is closing, leaving him with just one certainty in his life – his marriage. It won several awards at home, including the Italian Golden Globe for best film

Blind Spot (Doudege Wénkel), Luxembourg, 2012 – A senior police inspector takes one last case before retirement – the death of a fellow cop. He gets the help from a young loose-cannon officer, who just happens to be the brother of the departed policeman. This crime thriller has attracted a lot of buzz, and besides, how many times have you watched a movie in Luxembourgish?

Cool Kids Don’t Cry (Achtste Groepers Huilen Niet), Netherlands, 2012 – A spirited young girl loves football even though her closest friend thinks it’s not for girls. And even after she is diagnosed with leukemia, she remains optimistic. Eventually, it’s up to her friend to come up with something special. It swept the Netherlands' Golden Film prize, among several other accolades.

A Wonderful Summer (Cudowne lato), Poland, 2011 – This black comedy is mostly set in a funeral parlor. Kitka, 18, has a unique gift – she can communicate with the spirit of her dead mother, whose soul will not rest until she finds a suitable mate for her daughter.

The Death of Carlos Gardel, Portugal, 2011 – As a young drug addict nears death in a hospital, visits by family members evoke a web of memories. The father refuses to accept his son’s death, and channels his passion for tango and the Argentine singer Carlos Gardel.

Medal of Honor (Medalia de Onoare), Romania, 2009 – A 75-year-old Romanian man finds a new sense of self-respect after he accidentally receives a medal for his supposedly heroic actions during World War II, which he hardly remembers. It's won many awards, including several honors at the Thessaloniki Film Festival.

Don’t Be Afraid (No Tengas Miedo), Spain, 2011 – A young woman marked by a dark childhood decides to start over and face the people and emotions that keep her bound to the past. Stars Michelle Jenner, who won or was nominated for best new actress honors.

Frozen Silence (Silencio en la Nieve), Spain, 2011 – At the Russian front in the winter of 1943, members of Spain’s Blue Division encounter a dead man in the ice with his throat slit and a message carved into his chest, "Watch out, God is watching you." It was nominated for a couple of awards back home.

Beyond (Svinalängorna), Sweden, 2010 Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) stars in this drama about a woman who confronts her abusive childhood when she receives news that her mother is dying. Pernilla August (Darth vader's mother from Star Wars Episode I and Episode II) directs and Ola Rapace (Skyfall) also stars. It won the International Critic’s Week Award at the 67th Venice Film Festival plus prizes at many other festivals.

London – The Modern Babylon, UK, 2012 – Julien Temple directs this time-travelling voyage to the heart of his hometown, featuring musicians, writers, artists, dangerous thinkers, political radicals and above all ordinary people.

For the schedule, visit the festival website.

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