Finally ditching the goofy name (it was previously known as the Eh! U European Film Festival), the European Union Film Festival returns for its sixth edition from November 18th through the 30th at the Royal Cinema. Featuring 21 films from 21 European countries, the festival offers free admission to all films thanks to the support of the various consulates who coordinate the festival each year.
What I love most about this festival, other than the free tickets, is its democratic nature. Each country may only be represented by one film, so the usual behemoths of European cinema (France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Spain) are on a level playing field with the smaller countries (Cyprus, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia) whose cinema we rarely get a chance to see. Last year featured six films that were official submissions for the Best Foreign Film Award at the Oscars, and although this year features fewer high-profile films, it promises more discoveries. Not many of these films have played yet in Toronto, and most likely won’t return, so don’t miss your chance to see what’s happening in some of the less glamorous corners of European cinema. The price is certainly right. Here are a few highlights:
Thursday November 18, 8:30pm – Les Barons (Belgium, 2009, Director: Nabil Ben Yadir): A group of working-class buddies in a Brussels neighbourhood celebrate idleness and the good life, despite the disapproval of the older generation. I missed this when it played at CineFranco earlier this year, but it looks like a charming comedy set amongst the north African community in the New Europe.
Saturday November 20, 6:00pm – Disco and Atomic War (Estonia, 2009, Director: Jaak Kilmi): This documentary played at Hot Docs this past spring and I’ve heard great things. It’s a slyly comic essay film that explores the hypothesis that Finnish TV broadcasts of American shows that reached Estonia during the 1980s helped bring down the Communist system of the USSR.
Thursday November 25, 6:00pm – Landscape No. 2 (Slovenia, 2008, Director: Vinko Möderndorfer): A simple art theft turns into something more sinister when the burglars also steal a valuable document from the end of World War II. This was Slovenia’s Oscar submission for 2009.
Be sure to explore the festival web site for more information. The best way to show that Toronto appreciates European film is to make an effort to see it. Free admission means you have no excuse!