European Union Film Festival 2012

by James McNally on November 13, 2012

in Film Festivals

European Union Film Festival (November 14-27, 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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