Monday, June 29, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: EU Film Festival, July 10-19, 2015

The annual European Union Film Festival is back for another edition, running this year from July 10 to 19 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, screening 18 entries from 14 countries. Tickets are 120 baht and are on sale now at the box office and through the SF Cinema City website.

Under the theme of “Cinema Live. New Light”, the festival will screen stories about people striving to survive and have better lives, as well as present the cultural richness and diversity of the EU through recent award-winning films.

Highlights include Trespassing Bergman, a documentary about Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman and featuring many famous directors, the German World War II drama Phoenix, Girlhood, a French coming-of-age drama about a black teenager, '71, about "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland, the award-winning Spanish romance Beautiful Youth, the Danish crime drama Northwest and Mr. Hublot, an Oscar-winning animated short from Luxembourg. There will also be a selection paying tribute to Manoel de Oliveira, the Portuguese director who died this past April at age 106.

In addition to Bangkok, the festival will bring selections to SFX Maya Chiang Mai from July 24 to August 8 (where tickets are 80 baht) and at SF Cinema City, CentralPlaza Khon Kaen from August 7 to 9 (queue up for free tickets 30 minutes before the shows). It should go without saying but I'll say it anyway – films will have English and Thai subtitles.

Here's the line-up:

  • Melody (Belgium) – Bernard Bellefroid directs this drama about a young woman (Lucie Debay) who wants to open her own hairdressing salon. To achieve this, she agrees to be a surrogate mother for an Englishwoman (Rachael Blake). Debay and Blake shared the best actress prize at last year's Montréal World Film Festival, which also awarded Melody the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury-Special Mention.
  • Fair Play (Czech Republic) – In 1980s Soviet-era Czechoslovakia, a talented young sprinter (Judit Bárdos) on the country's Olympics team is chosen for a secret program in which she's given performance-enhancing drugs without her knowledge. She wants off the steroids when she discovers the truth, but there's pressure from the coaches, her peers and from her mother to continue using them. Andrea Sedlácková directs. Fair Play was a nominee for the Audience Choice Award at last year's Chicago International Film Festival.
  • Northwest (Denmark) – An 18-year-old street hood gets a leg up in the criminal underworld when he goes to work for a rival kingpin. Michael Noer directs this action-drama, which was nominated for three of Denmark's Bodil Awards and won best supporting actor. It was also an Audience Choice nominee in Chicago.
  • The Hour of the Lynx (Denmark) – A priest is called in to counsel an inmate at a high-security facility for the criminally insane, who attempted suicide while rambling about God. Søren Kragh-Jacobsen directs. Sofie Gråbøl was a Bodil Awards best-actress nominee for her role as the priest.
  • Concrete Night (Finland) – In the cramped slums of Helsinki, one young man prepares to go to prison as his younger brother contemplates following his sibling into a life of crime. Directed by Pirjo Honkasalo, Concrete Night won Best Film and six other prizes at Finland's Jussi Awards and the Spotlight Award of American Society of Cinematographers.
  • Girlhood (France) – A 16-year-old girl with few other prospects in life joins an all-female street gang, where she at first experiences the rush of newfound confidence. Céline Sciamma (Tomboy, Water Lilies) directs. Girlhood won prizes at festivals in Philadelphia and Stockholm and was nominated for the Queer Palm at last year's Cannes Film Festival, in addition to several prizes at France's César Awards.
  • Beloved Sisters (Germany) – The aristocratic Von Lengefeld sisters compete for the affections of hotheaded writer-philosopher Friedrich Schiller against the backdrop of social and political upheavals in France. Dominik Graf directs. Beloved Sisters won for best cinematography at last year's Bavarian Film Awards.
  • Phoenix (Germany) – A woman who was disfigured in a concentration camp and is unrecognizable after facial reconstruction surgery, searches through ravaged postwar Berlin for her estranged husband, who she thinks might have betrayed her to the Nazis. Nina Hoss, Nina Kunzendorf and Ronald Zehrfeld star. Christian Petzold (Jerichow, Barbara) directs. A nominee at the German Film Awards, Phoenix has won at festivals in Hong Kong, Lisbon, San Sebastián and Seattle.
  • Heavenly Shift (Hungary) – In Budapest, a young refugee from the Balkan War joins an ambulance crew and inadvertently becomes involved in the funeral business. Márk Bodzsár directs this comedy-drama, which was nominated for the Orbit Prize at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film and won the Director's Week Award at Fantasporto. 2014
  • Dead Man Talking (Luxembourg) – William Lamers, a 40-year-old death row convict, has a few last words on the day of his execution. No one else is around to hear them, except for the lone journalist from the local newspaper. Patrick Ridremont stars as Lamers and directs. This comedy-drama was a best foreign film nominee at France's César Awards and was a major nominee at the Magritte Awards in Belgium, where it won for production design.
  • Mr. Hublot (Luxembourg) – In a world where characters form parts for gigantic vehicles, Mr. Hublot becomes fearful and decides to not set foot outside his apartment. His solitude is shattered by the arrival of a robot dog. Directed by Alexandre Espigares and Laurent Witz, Mr. Hublot won last year's Academy Award for Best Animated Short.
  • Borgman (Netherlands) – A homeless vagrant gradually infiltrates his way into the sealed-off surburban home of a well-off family. Alex Van Warmerdam directs this off-beat thriller, which was a nominee for the Palme d' Or at Cannes in 2013 and won prizes at many other festivals.
  • Gebo and the Shadow (Portugal) – Part of a special tribute to Manoel de Oliveira, this 2012 entry was the centenarian filmmaker's final feature. It's based on a stage play and follows an elderly accountant who seems to be hiding something from his wife and daughter-in-law regarding the absence of his son. Michael Lonsdale, Claudia Cardinale, Jeanne Moreau and Leonor Silveira star. Screened at the Venice film fest, it was a major nominee for Portugal's Golden Globes.
  • The Old Man of Belem (Portugal) – Manoel de Oliveira continued making films well past his 100th birthday. From last year, this short film has Don Quixote, Luís de Camões, Camilo Castelo Branco and Teixeira de Pascoaes having a chat in a garden in the middle of a modern city
  • The Japanese Dog (Romania) – A flash flood hits a village, leaving an elderly man widowed and destitute. He's determined to rebuild, but has to deal with his estranged son, who has turned up after years away in Japan with a wife and son. They want to take dad back to Tokyo with them, but there are unresolved issues. Tudor Cristian Jurgiu directs, making his feature debut. The Japanese Dog was Romania's submission to the Oscars last year.
  • Beautiful Youth (Spain) – A struggling young twentysomething couple, who still live with their parents, turn to making pornography after the woman discovers she is pregnant. Directed by Jaime Rosales, Beautiful Youth was selected for the Un Certain Regard competition at last year's Cannes Film Festival and won the Special Mention Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes Film Festival 2014.
  • Trespassing Bergman (Sweden) – Famous film figures, including Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Michael Haneke, Robert De Niro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Takeshi Kitano, Francis Ford Coppola and Claire Denis, visit the remote Faro Island home of director Ingmar Bergman, and reflect on the legacy of the Swedish auteur and his films.
  • '71 (United Kingdom) – Here's the hot ticket. This much acclaimed military drama is set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, and follows a young British soldier as he is accidentally abandoned by his unit during a riot in Belfast. Somehow, he must survive the night and find his way to safety. Jack O'Connell stars and Yann Demange directs, making his feature debut. This was a major nominee at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards, where it won Best Director. It also won the Bafta Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

For more details, check Facebook or the SF Cinema City website.

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