Presented by Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, the European Union, the American Cinematheque and Obicá USA.
Created in the aftermath of World War II, the European Union is a unique economic and political partnership of 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent. What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organization spanning policy areas and promoting cultural ties. Now in its fifth year, the EU Film Festival provides an opportunity for international cinema enthusiasts in Los Angeles to celebrate and discover contemporary films from across the European Union.
Spotlighting festival award winners from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland and Romania, the short and feature films here embody the rich heritage and diversity of cinema from Europe. With talent from the films invited to speak at screenings and an opening-night reception, this is an ideal way for expats and Los Angeles residents alike to experience these European delicacies.
Eight of the features make their Los Angeles premieres here, beginning with Barbara Albert’s MADEMOISELLE PARADIS, one of three features by female directors. Set in 18th-century Vienna, the acclaimed Austrian film stars Maria Dragus as a blind pianist caught between the men trying to exploit her talents and the controversial physician treating her. Hungarian film KINCSEM is a similarly lavish period piece, though its title character is a record-breaking real-life racehorse.
Poland’s BREAKING THE LIMITS is also a biopic, though focused on a human being, telling the true story of Jerzy Gorski, a former junkie turned athletic champion. Romania provides gritty drama in the form of POROROCA, about a young father on a mission to find his missing daughter; the thriller closes this year’s EU series, appropriately on Europe Day. MIRACLE looks at Lithuania shortly after the fall of communism through the prism of a struggling livestock farmer.
Economic struggles are given a comedic spin in Croatia’s QUIT STARING AT MY PLATE, as a 24-year-old woman (Pula Film Festival Best Actress Mia Petričević) spreads her wings after becoming the breadwinner for her poverty-stricken family. The female protagonists of Belgium’s CHARLIE AND HANNAH’S GRAND NIGHT OUT spread their wings … and fly across the galaxy after consuming “magical candy” during a night on the town. Similarly lighthearted but more grounded in reality is WELCOME TO GERMANY; the German social comedy looks at a family that takes in a Nigerian refugee.
Most programs in this series include an opening short. Among the highlights is Italy’s “Ghetto PSA,” a look at immigration peppered with hip-hop; director Rossella Schillaci will appear in person with the film. Bulgaria supplies one of three shorts directed by women, Sarah Kruchowski ‘s “Audition,” about an aspiring actress dealing with the demands of motherhood; lead actress Maria Bobeva and producer Petro Dushkov will appear with the film. From the Czech Republic, “Who’s Who in Mycology” was a 2017 Student Academy Award winner for Best Narrative Short. Latvian national film festival Best Student Film winner “Converts,” dealing with a journalist’s dangerous involvement with radical Islam, is one of four shorts making its Los Angeles premiere here. Rounding out the short film lineup are “Helen’s Birthday” from Estonia, winner for Best Short at the 2Annas International Film Festival in Riga, and “Sur le Fil” from Luxembourg, winner for Best Short at the Oldenburg Film Festival.
Series programmed by EU members, with the assistance of Jordan Cronk, William Morris and Gwen Deglise. Program notes by William Morris, Christopher LeMaire and John Hagelston.