European Union Film Festival 2012

Celebrating 8 years in Toronto this month, the European Union Film Festival remains under the radar for many Toronto cinephiles, which is a real pity. 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. This year marks the first time that they’ve been able to show at least one film from every EU mem­ber coun­try. There are 30 films from 27 coun­tries in total.

This year’s fest­ival takes place from November 14–27th and all screen­ings are at the Royal Cinema (608 College Street). You’ll need to arrive early since many of the films fill up com­pletely.

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:

Byzantium

Byzantium (UK, Director: Neil Jordan) — screen­ing Saturday November 17th at 8:30pm

This char­ac­ter study of two vam­pires (Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan) hid­ing out in a coastal resort just played TIFF and drew atten­tion for its lush visu­als and delib­er­ate pacing. It will be intro­duc­ted by vet­eran UK pro­du­cer Nik Powell, who is also present­ing Neil Jordan’s film The Crying Game (1992) on Friday November 16th at 3:00pm and con­duct­ing a num­ber of work­shops dur­ing the fest­ival.

Vampyr

Vampyr (Denmark, Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer) — screen­ing Saturday November 17th at 11:00pm

And a per­fect fol­low up to Byzantium is this 1933 clas­sic from Danish auteur Carl Theodor Dreyer. The Criterion Collection called it “one of cinema’s great night­mares.”

Silence

Silence (Ireland, Director: Pat Collins) — screen­ing Wednesday November 21st at 6:00pm

Documentarian Pat Collins cre­ates an inter­est­ing hybrid film here, equal parts med­it­a­tion and odys­sey, “tra­cing the psy­cho-geo­graph­ical jour­ney under­taken by an enig­matic sound­man (writer and co-scen­ar­ist Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde) from his adop­ted city of Berlin to his nat­ive Donegal. His under­tak­ing is to aur­ally doc­u­ment land­scapes free from man-made noise – a jour­ney that ulti­mately leads our prot­ag­on­ist inwards, as he finds him­self drawn to his child­hood home.”

Hot Hot Hot

Hot Hot Hot (Luxembourg, Director: Béryl Koltz) — screen­ing Sunday November 25th at 6:00pm

A clas­sic fish-out-of-water com­edy from a charm­ing coun­try my wife and I just vis­ited in September. “Ferdinand is a long­time employee of Fish Land, the aquatic centre within the glob­al­ized leis­ure com­plex “Worlds Apart”. He’s a small, bald forty year-old, and a sol­it­ary, anxious intro­vert entirely devoted to his pas­sion for fish. Ferdinand’s obsess­ive little exist­ence is turned upside down the day Fish Land is closed for six months of renov­a­tions.

He is trans­ferred to another sec­tion of “Worlds Apart”, the Finnish-Turkish Delight spa. Ferdinand is sud­denly thrown into a world of nud­ity, sen­su­al­ity, relax­a­tion and let­ting go. In short, everything he could pos­sibly be afraid of.” I’m eager to see what the Luxembourgeois find funny.

P.S. Vancouver also has a European Union Film Festival run­ning from November 23-December 6. They might have a nicer web­site, but they only have 26 coun­tries rep­res­en­ted, and they also charge for tick­ets. Ours is FREE! 🙂

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