European Union Film Festival 2011

Now in its sev­enth year in Toronto, the European Union Film Festival is still a little under the radar for most film fans in our city, and that’s a shame. For one, it’s the only film fest­ival I’m aware of where all screen­ings are FREE. But quite apart from that, it offers a huge selec­tion of cinema from a wide range of cul­tures, and in a mul­ti­cul­tural city like Toronto, that makes some of the screen­ings feel like impromptu gath­er­ings for vari­ous out­posts of the European dia­spora. Just last year, I was in a screen­ing of Slovenian film Landscape No. 2 (review) and real­ized that long-dis­tance swim­mer (and sub­ject of the fas­cin­at­ing doc­umen­ary Big River Man (review)) Martin Strel was in the audi­ence too.

This year’s fest­ival takes place from November 17–30th and all screen­ings take place at the Royal Cinema (608 College Street).

The films are a mix of new and old, stuff that plays high pro­file fest­ivals like TIFF and films that rarely play out­side their country’s bor­ders. In other words, it’s really an unmiss­able oppor­tun­ity to peer into some rarely-glimpsed corners of the world through cinema. Here are a few I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing:

The Other Side of Sleep

The Other Side of Sleep (Ireland, Director: Rebecca Daly) — screen­ing Tuesday November 29th at 6:00pm

Having recently played at Cannes and TIFF, this film might have the finest ped­i­gree in the pro­gram. Arlene is a young woman prone to sleep­walk­ing. One morn­ing she wakes up out­side next to the dead body of another young woman. As sus­pi­cion grows in her small com­munity, Arlene finds she’s unable to sleep, mix­ing her dreams and real­ity.

Stricken

Stricken (The Netherlands, Director: Reinout Oerlemans) — screen­ing Tuesday November 29th at 8:30pm

Featuring the gor­geous Carice van Houten (Black Book) as a woman dia­gnosed with breast can­cer, Stricken focuses on her hus­band Stijn and his choices. When her ill­ness shat­ters his per­fect life, he escapes into a world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And soon into the arms of another woman.

Lapland Odyssey

Lapland Odyssey (Finland, Director: Dome Karukoski) — screen­ing Wednesday November 23rd at 6:00pm

A treat from TIFF 2010, Lapland Odyssey is a road com­edy about a trio of losers who head out one winter night in search of a “digibox” for Janne’s girlfriend’s tele­vi­sion. He’s screwed up so many times with her that her ulti­matum (get one by morn­ing or I’m out of here) sends the friends off on a ridicu­lous and frozen quest. I’ve seen and reviewed this already but would recom­mend it if you like Nordic com­edy. I’m hop­ing to catch it again, in any case.

P.S. Vancouver also has a European Union Film Festival run­ning from November 25-December 8. They might have a nicer web­site and get to see The Artist, but they also charge for tick­ets. Ours is FREE! 🙂

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3 Responses to European Union Film Festival 2011

  1. Joel Burman says:

    Man its unbe­live­able how many film fest­ivals that are held in Toronto. This one seem to be a smart way of pro­mot­ing Europena Film. Kind of sur­prised that its not hos­ted in European coun­tries as well.

  2. Joel, this is actu­ally sponsored by the vari­ous European con­su­lates in Toronto and they see it as a form of for­eign rela­tions, I guess. Maybe they think Europeans already under­stand each other? And of course, right now, a little under­stand­ing seems to be what’s miss­ing in the whole Euro crisis. Films to the res­cue? 🙂

  3. Peter says:

    Oh yes, Toronto is a city of movie fest­ivals. (And that’s just a frac­tion, the most sig­ni­fic­ant ones.)

    @James: I’ve read your review on Big River Man. Now I regret I wasn’t attend­ing the fest­ival (espe­cially French, Italian and Eastern European films must be awe­some for their pro­found tra­di­tion) and haven’t seen the film yet. Actually, I’m won­der­ing if I could pos­sibly see it some­where.

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