European Union Film Festival 2011

by James McNally on November 20, 2011 · 3 comments

in Film Festivals

European Union Film Festival (November 17-30)

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! :)

{ 3 comments }

Joel Burman November 21, 2011 at 8:42 am

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.

James McNally November 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

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? :)

Peter December 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm

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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