Friday, June 17, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: European Union Film Festival, June 23-July 3, 2016

Sixteen films from 13 countries will screen for the general public in the long-running annual European Union Film Festival, starting next week at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld.

This year, the festival takes the theme “Look to the Past, See the Future”. Highlights include The Broken Circle Breakdown, a Belgian film that was a 2014 nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Finland’s The Fencer, a Cold War drama that was a Golden Globe nominee, and Victoria, an innovative German crime drama that won three awards at the Berlin film fest and has been noted for its cinematography.

Other films hail from the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

There’s also a hidden 17th film from another country, Italy, which offers a one-off, invitation-only opening-night screening next Wednesday of Tale of Tales, a horror-fantasy from noted director Matteo Garrone and starring Salma Hayek.

Here is the line-up for the general public:

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown – Belgium’s Oscar-nominated drama takes its title from the American bluegrass music that brings together two musicians, a young man and woman, who have a daughter they name Maybelle. Tragedy then strikes.
  • Family Film – In this 2015 black comedy from the Czech Republic, a mum and dad take off for a vacation, inexplicably leaving their children and the family dog to fend for themselves.
  • The Sunfish – A third-generation Danish fisherman struggling to hold on to his livelihood finds unlikely romance when he invites a marine biologist aboard his vessel. This won many prizes, including Denmark’s 2014 Bodil Awards for best actor and supporting actress for Henrik Birch and Susanne Storm.
  • Silent Heart – A second entry from Denmark has three generations of a family reuniting amid conflict as their ailing mother wants to die before her illness worsens. Directed by Bille August, it won many prizes including best film at the 2015 Bolid Awards.
  • The Fencer – The award-winning Finnish drama is set in 1950, with a young man trapped between his World War II past and the future of Estonia as his country comes under control of the Soviet Union.
  • Standing Tall – A French judge (Catherine Deneuve) and a schoolteacher (Benoit Magimel) take up the cause of putting a juvenile delinquent (Rod Paradot) on the straight and narrow. It was a major nominee for this year’s Cesar Awards, with Magimel winning best supporting actor and newcomer Paradot named most promising actor.
  • The Sweet Escape – In another French entry, a middle-aged graphic designer seeks to change his urban lifestyle and takes up kayaking.
  • The People vs Fritz Bauer – Germany’s embattled Nazi hunter, the attorney general Fritz Bauer, comes under attack after he covertly approaches Israel’s spy service for help in tracking down Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. It was a nominee for several German Film Awards, and won best film.
  • Victoria – Winner of the Berlin Silver Bear for cinematography, this German thriller was shot in one eye-popping continuous take, and follows a young Spanish woman, a newcomer to Berlin, as she is befriended one night by four young men who turn out to be criminals.
  • Afterlife – A neurotic young man encounters the ghost of his father and the two form a bond that seemed impossible when the man was alive. From Hungary, this 2014 comedy-drama was nominated for prizes in Karlovy Vary and Palm Springs.
  • Bikes vs Cars – Sweden offers a documentary look at how bicycles stack up against other forms of transport in such cities as Los Angeles, Toronto, Sao Paulo and Copenhagen.
  • Baby (a) lone – Luxembourg’s official submission to the Oscars has troubled teenagers, a boy and girl, who meet in a school-detention programme and form a bond as they take out their frustrations with society.
  • Finn – A boy and his father, both mourning the loss the boy’s mum, who died in childbirth on Christmas Eve, find solace in music and religious symbolism. From the Netherlands, this family drama was a nominee for the Crystal Bear at the 2014 Berlin film festival.
  • Jack Strong – Poland offers a taut Cold War thriller about top Polish military official Ryszard Kuklinski, who became a spy for the US, spilling Warsaw Pact secrets in a bid to keep his country safe. Marcin Dorocinski stars, along with Patrick Wilson as Kuklinski’s CIA handler.
  • The Wolf’s Lair – Portuguese filmmaker Catarina Mourao lifts the covers off her family’s tragic past in this documentary, in which she seeks to unravel the secrets and mysteries of her family during Portugal’s dictatorship.
  • Truman – A terminally ill man is visited by an old friend, and the two set out for one last adventure, accompanied by the man’s loyal pet dog.

The European Union Film Festival opens to the general public next Thursday and runs until July 3 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld in Bangkok. The festival will then be held from July 8 to 17 at SFX Maya Chiang Mai and from July 21 to 24 at SF Cinema City, CentralPlaza Khon Kaen.

Films will have English and Thai subtitles. Tickets are Bt120 in Bangkok, Bt80 in Chiang Mai and free in Khon Kaen.

The schedule can be found online. For more details, check

(Cross-published in The Nation)

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