European Union Film Festival synopses
Expedition Linnaeus (2007) – Free showings! Fri Nov 6 at
2:30 pm, and Tue Nov 10 at 3 pm. A documentary film made for the 300th
anniversary of the expeditions of the Swedish botanist, physician, and
zoologist Carolus Linnaeus. The film is a journey of discovery to seven
continents, into space, down into the depths of the oceans and into the
future. At the center are crucial questions: How should we behave and act
today in order to survive tomorrow? And how can science and research
contribute to a better world? The expedition meets some of the world’s
leading researchers and experts, who try to give answers to these questions.
A Farewell to Hemingway (2008) – Fri Nov 6 at 4:30 pm, and Sun Nov 15
at 3:30 pm. Bulgaria, the night of October 18, 1922. A rampageous young
American is forced to get off the Orient Express at a small station. The
Station Master and his daughter are quite unwilling to put up the stranger.
Gradually the American wins their trust. When the father finds out that his
daughter has decided to go away to Paris with the American, he prepares a
potion to make him fall asleep and secretly puts him on a train. In the
morning all that has been left from the guest is a piece of paper with a
military cross attached to it and the name “Ernest Hemingway.”
Obaba (2005) – Fri Nov 6 at 6:30 pm, and Sat Nov 14 at 1:30 pm. A young
filmmaker makes an investigative trip to a mysterious, isolated Basque hill
town populated by eccentrics, and struggles to capture the feel of the
area. A mesmerizing and evocative experience for her and the viewer. The
picture has a fresh vision, and a fusion of regional charm with magic
California Dreamin’ (2007) – Fri Nov 6 at 8:30 pm, and Sat Nov 14 at 9:15
pm. Inspired by a Kosovo war incident involving American troops
accompanying a NATO train who were stopped at a rural Romanian railway
station because they lacked customs documents. Unfinished when the talented
27-year-old director died in a traffic accident, the film spins a complex
dark comedy of near-Shakespearean proportions. Deftly juggling a number of
story strands that intersect in ways that accumulate meaning, the ambitious,
large-scale film pivots on cultural misunderstandings. Provides a damning
portrait of a Romania where corruption is endemic and officials thrive by
avoiding responsibility. Equally devastating is the picture of
self-righteous Americans who stir up a bloodbath but manage to leave the
scene with their hands clean.
Christmas Story (2007) – Sat Nov 7 at 11:50 am, and Tue Nov 10 at 4:30 pm.
A film for the entire family that tells the touching tale of how a
little boy called Nikolas came to be Santa Claus. Hundreds of years ago in
Lapland, little Nikolas loses his family in an accident. The villagers
decide to look after the orphaned boy together. Once a year - at Christmas
- Nikolas moves to a new home. To show his gratitude, Nikolas decides to
make toys for the children of the families as good-bye presents. Over the
years, Nikolas’s former adoptive families become many, and soon almost every
house has presents on its doorstep on Christmas morning, bringing children
joy every Christmas, in a tradition even continuing to today.
Love Is All (2007) shown with Thai and English subtitles – Sat Nov 7 at 1:30
pm, and Wed Nov 11 at 5:15 pm. This romantic comedy was tops at the
Netherlands box office for local films in 2007. Colorful, touching, and
funny, this can be considered as a Dutch version of Love Actually.
The stories and situations are very Dutch (including a gay marriage and a
vehicle carefully locked to a bridge), with the all-star cast playing the
roles they do best. And the movie shows the best side of Amsterdam.
Irina Palm (2007) – Sat Nov 7 at 3:45 pm, and Thu Nov 12 at 3 pm. Rock
icon Marianne Faithfull stars as a mousey woman who takes a job in a sex
club to pay for emergency medical treatment for her grandson. It belongs to
a sturdy and very British genre: the naughty-granny comedy, in which an
older woman is liberated and rejuvenated by an excursion into vice. But
sleaze and salaciousness are quickly banished in favor of sentimental good
Splinters (2008) shown with Thai and English subtitles – Sat Nov 7 at 5:45
pm, and Thu Nov 12 at 7 pm. – Slices of contemporary Polish life in a
dreary industrial town in Silesia – generally conceived as a grey, dirty
region inhabited by unhappy people who live in poverty and have bleak
prospects. There are three intertwining narratives about three young
people, all living in the same dreary Silesian industrial town, and all
stuck in dead-end relationships.
Corridor # 8 (2008) – Sat Nov 7 at 7:40 pm, and Wed Nov 11 at 9:30 pm. –
A road movie for a road that doesn’t exist – the planned, but never built,
highway project that would have connected populations that have been
separated for generations. All the ironies and absurdities of the Balkans
come into play in this documentary, which both delights in the illogicality
of the situation in which the neighboring nations of Bulgaria, Macedonia,
and Albania have no means of common transportation, and pointedly comments
on the retarding effects of isolation.
Crossed Tracks (2007) – Sat Nov 7 at 9:30 pm, and Fri Nov 13 at 9:15 pm. –
An engaging thriller about murder and romance with plenty of stylistic
panache. Has been released commercially, with generally favorable reviews.
Rated R in the US for brief language and sexual references.
Good Morning Heartache (2008) – Sun Nov 8 at 12 noon, and Wed Nov 11 at 7:30
pm. – Alternately emotional and funny, a fresh voice emerges from
Italian cinema in the person of director and co-writer Anna Negri, as the
marriage of an actor and a freelance film editor breaks up unexpectedly in
front of her camera. Quite experimental, with camera angles and techniques
shifted around to mirror guerrilla film-making. An interesting presentation
of a tale dealing with the vagaries of the heart.
Zozo (2005) – Sun Nov 8 at 2 pm, and Thu Nov 12 at 5 pm. – The affecting
story of a young Arabic boy who escapes the turmoil and tragedy of the 1980s
civil war in Lebanon by emigrating to Sweden to join his grandparents, and
where he has difficulty in fitting in to his new world.
Citizen Havel (2008) – Sun Nov 8 at 4:15 pm, and Thu Nov 12 at 9 pm. – A
documentary revealing former Czech president Vaclav Havel’s private moments
and backroom dealings. A fascinating cinema verite-style portrait, made
over nearly a decade. Vaclav Havel confirms his status as one of the most
likable men to ever win office in this intriguing film.
Adventurers (2008) – Sun Nov 8 at 6:30 pm, and Fri Nov 13 at 5 pm. –
This sprightly take on that old warhorse the road movie has a hapless trio
of father, son, and grandson making an increasingly mad and wildly comical
trip across the Hungarian-Romanian border. The ensemble acting from the
three protagonists is a delight to watch.
Silent Wedding (2008) – Sun Nov 8 at 8:45 pm, and Fri Nov 13 at 7:35 pm. –
A Romanian emotional roller-coaster which pictures that country’s recent
history in a tragical and comical frame. In a small town, a happy young
couple about to be wed, and the community is ready to celebrate the happy
event. All is well, until a number of militant communists enter the town to
declare a period of national mourning after the death of the party leader.
The wedding party is forbidden and the community searches for a way to have
it go on anyway. The solution: the feast will go on but everything,
including the music, will be in mime.
La Paloma - Longing Worldwide (2008) Shown with Thai and English subtitles –
Mon Nov 9 at 3:30 pm, and Sun Nov 15 at 8 pm. – The melody of La Paloma
has traversed the globe since its composition, and while the original music
has survived the trek, the lyrics have not. Each culture that adopts the
song transforms its meaning, and this malleability is the cornerstone of
Sigrid Faltin’s staggering contemplation on the power of music.
Mataharis (2007) – Mon Nov 9 at 5:30 pm, and Sun Nov 15 at 1:30 pm. –
Three women carry the three stories that intertwine in the course of this
film. All three work at a private detective agency in Madrid; their
bullying boss is male, but it’s Carmen, Eva, and Ines who do the dirty work,
bringing back evidence of marital infidelity and business chicanery for
paying clients. A bittersweet tale of frustrated lives and loves.
Hannah Hannah (2007) shown with Thai and English subtitles – Mon Nov 9 at
7:30 pm, and Sat Nov 14 at 5:30 pm. – The story is a textbook example of
a romantic drama, and its an emotional roller-coaster, as highs and lows,
drama and comedy, tears and happiness, alternate with great rapidity.
Gibellina – The Earthquake (2007) – Mon Nov 9 at 9:15 pm, and Sat Nov 14 at
11:50 am. – The Sicilian town of Gibellina was destroyed by an
earthquake in 1968, then rebuilt years later at a distance from its original
location. This was not done in a conventional way, instead in line with a
utopian vision of renewal. Things didn’t quite work out as planned, as this
fascinating documentary details.