Far From Dull, the EUFF is Full of Cinematic Gems
Posted on 23 April, 2012
Far From dull, the EUFF is full of cinematic gems, says film-obsessed Diana Othman.
It may be the second longest running annual film festival in Singapore but the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) is far from being a dull, fuddy-duddy affair. The year is 2007 and the festival brought the ultra-funny and simply awesome Hot Fuzz to our shores (we’re not worthy!!). The objective has always been to present the more notable titles from European cinema today and this year, it has managed to put together an extensive lineup of acclaimed and pretty exciting films.
The 22nd EUFF, which runs from 10 to 20 May 2012, will screen 23 contemporary European films and a special selection of 14 short films by the alumni of LASALLE’s Puttnam School of Film, making this one of its biggest programmes to date.
As with previous years, new films were handpicked from across the EU to give audiences a multi-faceted perspective the diversity and richness of modern European cinema and culture. Here are some shameless, personal recommendations:
Trishna is British auteur Michael Winterbottom’s (Jude, 24 Hour Party People, The Killer Inside Me) take on Victorian novel Tess of the D’Urbarvilles but set in modern-day India, with a touch of Bollywood melodrama (and a little song and dance too!). Freida Pinto plays the titular character Trishna, the daughter of an auto rickshaw owner, who falls in love with Riz Ahmed’s Jay, the son of property developer. Unable to escape the social pressures of their individual lives, trouble and tragedy ensue. Also, be sure to take in the beautiful cinematography by Marcel Zyskind and the lush score by composer extraordinaire Shigeru Umebayashi – the genius behind Yumeji’s theme, a piece of music which was used extensively in well Seijun Suzuki’s Yumeji and again in Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love.
Spain’s Cell 211 will make Prison Break seem like a tea party with bunnies. Already a familiar name at Fantastic Film Festivals around the world, director Daniel Monzon has finally made a film that’s a hit with both critics and audiences. Cell 211 swept up eight Goya Awards – Spain’s answer to the Oscars – including Best Director and Best Picture accolades as well as a Seattle International Film Festival Best Actor award for one of the film’s leads Luis Tosar. The premise: When a prison riot breaks out, a newly-appointed guard trapped in the revolt poses as one of the prisoners to survive it. Tension much?
If having a good time at the movies means being riddled with chuckles, then Ireland’s The Guard might just be what you’re looking for. A roguish but well-meaning Irish policeman – played by Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody from the Harry Potter films, Albert Nobbs), earning him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy earlier this year – teams up with a straightlaced, uptight FBI agent played by Don Cheadle (Ocean’s Eleven, Hotel Rwanda) to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring. I know right! Brendan and Don in a buddy cop flick – who would’ve thunk?
With Katka, Czech Republic’s leading documentary film maker Helena Trestikova presents an uncompromising glimpse into the life of a drug addict over 14 years. Katka is a girl who battles the hypodermic needle and inhabits the periphery of human existence, seeking love and salvation. This is the latest in Trestikova’s series of “long-term, observational documentaries” that examine human relationships and social issues over an extended period of time.
This year’s EUFF also presents a second chance to catch some gems you might have missed last year. In a Better World by Susanne Bier, one of Denmark’s most celebrated film makers, was commercially released in Singapore theatres in 2011 and bagged an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film the same year. This tense, thoughtful and poignant drama about two families, and their emotional baggage, crossing paths can get pretty rough but is ultimately meaningful. Worth a go really!
You couldn’t possibly have gone through best film lists from 2010 and 2011 without stumbling on Finland’s Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale and the audience lapped it all up at last year’s Singapore International Film Festival. The premise plays on the age-old Santa Claus myth and turns it into a hilarious, sometimes-creepy and always-entertaining satire of familiar Christmas tales. An archeological excavation at the Korvatunturi mountains unleashes an ancient force – the real Santa Claus – but the real deal is far from being the jolly man we all know and love.
Often compared with Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, Wolfgang Murnberger’s My Best Enemy makes for an interesting tragi-comedy set in Vienna during WW2. First screened here at last year’s German Film Festival, the film stars two of German cinema’s biggest names, Moritz Bleibtreu and Georg Friedrich, playing childhood best friends who resort to double crossing each other as the Nazis take over Europe.
To view a rough list of all the films to be screened, visit the British Council Singapore website. The schedule and complete synopses are yet to be released. Tickets go on sale at the Golden Village box offices and website from 26 April.
TEXT BY DIANA OTHMAN