Monday, May 19, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: European Union Film Festival, May 23-June 5, 2014

An Oscar-winning drama and more award-winners are lined up for this year's edition of the European Union Film Festival. With 20 films from 14 countries, highlights include Italy’s The Great Beauty, which swept the foreign-language categories at this year’s Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and the Baftas.

In Bangkok, the fest runs from May 23 to June 5 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. The festival then moves to Chiang Mai and later Khon Kaen.

The opener is Come As You Are (Hasta La Vista!), a 2011 Belgian comedy about three disabled young men who want to lose their virginity. They set out to visit a luxury bordello in Spain that caters to special-needs clients. Directed by Geoffrey Enthoven, it won the grand prize at the Montreal World Film Festival.

Ken Loach directs the Scottish comedy The Angels’ Share, starring Paul Brannigan as a young Glaswegian hoodlum who narrowly avoids jail. Sentenced to community service, he undertakes a new direction in life after visiting a whiskey distillery. It won a jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.

A young man who lives with his dementia-addled mother develops an unexpected bond with her caretaker in the 2012 German romantic comedy Heavy Girls (Dicke Madchen). It won awards at Slamdance and the Hamburg Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

From Hungary, the Cold War-era spy thriller The Exam follows a young defence officer in 1950s Budapest as his mentor tests his loyalty. The second feature by Peter Bergendy, it won the Gold Hugo in the New Directors Competition at the 2012 Chicago film fest.

The Cold War era is also revisited in the 2009 Czech drama Walking Too Fast (Pouta). Set in 1982, the slow-burn political thriller is about a lieutenant of the secret police who begins having second thoughts about his line of work. It won five Czech Lions, including best film, best actor for Ondrej Maly and best director for Radim Spacek.

The “Czech Beatles” reunite in the 2013 comedy Revival. Written and directed by Alice Nellis, it follows the ageing musicians from the 1960s rock band Smoke as they attempt a comeback tour. It was nominated for seven Czech Lions and won the audience award at last year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Manila is the setting for a Netherlands entry, Lilet Never Happened, about a maladjusted Filipina child prostitute. A Dutch social worker tries to turn the girl’s life around. Garnering positive reviews, Lilet has won awards at various children’s film festivals.

Also from the Netherlands is The Gang of Oss. Set in the 1930s, the crime drama has authorities seeking to end criminal gangs’ stranglehold on the southern Netherlands’ industrial town of Oss.

Veteran Polish helmer Andrzej Wajda directs Walesa: Man of Hope, a biographical drama charting Nobel Prize laureate Lech Walesa’s rise from shipyard electrician to the founding of Solidarity, the dissident political movement that brought about a peaceful revolution against communism. The film won awards at festivals in Chicago, Palm Springs and Venice, including best actor for Robert Wieckiewicz and best actress for Maria Rosaria Omaggio, who portrays Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci.

A Swedish national figure is the subject of the documentary Palme, on the life and times of prime minister Olof Palme, whose assassination on the streets of Stockholm in 1986 changed the country forever.

Denmark offers the lavish historical drama A Royal Affair, set in the 18th-century court of the mentally ill King Christian VII, whose wife Princess Caroline Matilda had an affair with royal physician Johann Friedrich Struensee. Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen star. It was a foreign-language nominee for both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes this year.

Portugal has a look at Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago in the 2010 documentary Jose and Pilar, following his last years and his relationship with his resolute wife, Pilar del Rio.

From France comes a trilogy of hit comedies by director Cedric Klapisch – 2002’s The Spanish Apartment (L’auberge Espagnole), the 2004 sequel Russian Dolls and this year’s third chapter, Chinese Puzzle. In Spanish Apartment, a strait-laced French student (Romain Duris) moves into a Barcelona apartment with six other roomies from all over Europe. Russian Dolls fast-forwards to five years later, and Chinese Puzzle, which will have a limited theatrical release in Bangkok on June 29, has them in New York City, still trying to figure out their lives. Kelly Reilly, Audrey Tautou and Cecile de France also star.

Spaniards try to beat a casino run by a figure called “the Beast” in The Pelayos (Winning Streak
This year’s winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film is The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza), the latest opus from celebrated director Paolo Sorrentino. Starring Sorrentino’s usual leading man Toni Servillo, it follows an ageing socialite as he walks through the ruins and city streets of Rome following a party for his 65th birthday, reflecting on his life and his first love. Also the winner of the Golden Globe and British Film Academy Award for foreign features, The Great Beauty was on many critics’ top 10 lists of 2013’s best films.

Before last year’s high-seas drama Captain Phillips, there was the 2012 Danish thriller A Hijacking, in which Somali pirates raid a cargo ship and hold the crew for ransom. Meanwhile back in Copenhagen, the shipping company’s CEO enters into tense negotiations.

Luxembourg chips in with D’Symmetrie vum Paiperlek (The Butterfly’s Symmetry), a multi-layered comedy in which a writer living in a retirement home uses the people around him as inspirations for his stories. Among them is the tale of a misogynistic chess master who wants revenge after a young woman beats him in a match.

The Bangkok edition of the fest closes with Finsterworld, the fiction debut by German documentary director Frauke Finsterwalder. Exploring the German psyche, it has a dozen characters in gradually interconnected storylines. They include a pedicurist, three generations of a family, a documentary maker and her policeman boyfriend who is secretly likes to dress up in animal costumes.

The European Union Film Festival runs from May 23 to June 5 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, Bangkok, June 13 to 22 at SFX Maya, Chiang Mai and June 27 to 29 at SF Cinema City, CentralPlaza Khon Kaen.

Tickets are free and will be available 30 minutes before the show – first come first serve, maximum two tickets per person per screening. This is a very popular festival, especially among thrifty retirees and bargain-hunting young film enthusiasts, so if you want to ensure you have a decent seat, be prepared to queue up – the lines often start forming an hour or two beforehand.

All films will be screened in their original languages with English subtitles. Some films will also have Thai subtitles.

Hit the following link to download the schedule or check it at For more information, see

1 comment:

  1. Dear EUFilm Festival in Bangkok,

    How can one submit their films to your 2015 Festival editiion?

    Best regards,