EU Film Festival

EU Film Festival Screens Excellent European Cinema (for Free!)

Those who have attended the The EU Film Festival know that it's all about the movies. No red carpets. No pitch sessions. No industry conferences. Pretty novel, eh?

Toronto-based embassies, consulates and cultural centers put on this non-commercial event every year, simply to showcase the latest crop of acclaimed films coming out of Europe.

Eh!U Meet the Europeans Film Festival runs for a full two weeks from November 19 to December 3, 2009 and every night a new country will be in the spotlight with most screenings taking place at the Royal Cinema. Best of all, cultural export budgets are at work here, meaning there is no charge for admission!

Entrance is on a first-come-first-served basis, and from my experience, a half hour of standing in line (and a much appreciated donation) gets you into see some exceptional contemporary cinema - fresh off the major festival circuit and yet to be released on this side of the Atlantic.

The opener, Petr Zelenka's The Karamazovs, is more than worth the wait on Thursday, November 19 at the Bloor. This Czech offering combines a stage adaptation of Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov with equally dramatic side stories - involving a theatre troupe performing the play in a Polish steel plant and a steelworker watching the rehearsal. The film/play/novel reworking mixes contemporary and traditional storytelling to tackle the timeless themes in Dostoyevsky's work. To get some idea of what I'm talking about (or not, I couldn't find a subtitled version), check out the trailer below:

The Romanian New Wave is still going strong with Corneliu Porumboiu's latest Police, Adjective on November 28 at the Royal. I caught this one at TIFF a few months ago and, for a movie that is mostly made up of mundane scenes, it really packs a punch. Between long stretches in which a cop follows a suspect, files reports, and eats dinner, Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest) throws in a few clever conversations and a moral dilemma: the cop cannot bring himself to arrest a young teenager for smoking a joint. We are told that the crime would land the kid in jail for years according to Romanian drug laws.

My winter jacket is coming out this weekend to line up for a couple of multi-prestigious-prize-winning picks: A Prophet from France and Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon towards the end of the festival. Along with this serious festival fare, 5 Day Scam from Lithuania is described as a "zany comedy [that] takes place in the world of showbiz" or I could easily be talked into seeing The King of Ping Pong "a warm and humorous drama full of depth and originality set in the far north" from Sweden.

Want a head start on prepping for that time-honoured workplace tradition: the Oscar pool? A bunch of the EU Film Festival selections have been submitted to the upcoming Academy Awards' foreign language film category (see above and For a Moment Freedom, Winter in Wartime).

The fifth edition of the Eh!U Meet the Europeans Film Festival is running 26 films from 23 European Union countries. Check out the website for details and schedule.

Still from Police, Adjective.

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