What an extraordinary and disruptive year we have had to date. While most of us long for normalcy, I suspect we would be better served by embracing much of our new normal. During this time of Covid-19, hosting a film festival in a physical theatre would most likely have limited appeal. So this year, the 7th European Film Festival goes virtual. My hope is that the films gracing this year’s festival will lift you, by virtue of their quality, out of your day to day stress, if only for a moment, to another reality on the screen.
Dr Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador to South Africa
This year’s 7th annual European Film Festival in South Africa is going virtual from 12 November to 22 November 2020. A subsequent effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic that has restructured and forced us to reimagine not only our collective and individual ways of relating to and being within the world, but also our spaces and activities of artistic cultural exchange and creative engagement we used to take for granted. With a total of twelve brand new and diverse films — in genre, narrative and cinematic language — on the line up, the festival has something to offer for many a different cinephile and ordinary lovers of film alike. Of the twelve films, eleven will be screened free of charge with the exception of the documentary I am Greta, whose entry fee of R50 serves as a fundraiser for a climate action group who will be awarded screening proceeds after the festival. Emphasising her support for the festival’s continuity despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, EU Ambassador to South Africa, Dr Riina Kionka, shared enthusiastically:
Twelve films in eleven days shows the determination of this European partnership to overcome difficult circumstances. Since my arrival in South Africa this is my second European Film Festival: I can tell you that it is a cultural highlight not to be missed.
Mogul Mowgli, 2020 (still).
Home Front, 2020 (still).
Our past and present are destined to be entangled in an eternal dizzying and complicated dance; H/history is forever present in our current unfolding moment and old worlds move within our new ones. Therefore, in the spirit of invoking a moment of reflection, and the opportunity to reset our attitude to the world this year’s 7th edition of the European Film Festival, is about Then and Now, with the films inscribing an arc from Old Worlds to New. Starting the festival’s narrative and cinematic journey in the Middle Ages; this year’s Austrian film is based on the story of Narcissus and Goldmund. Written by Nobel-prize winning author Hermann Hesse, and directed here by Oscar-winning Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters). It examines the powerful bond between two very different characters, amidst the dichotomy between religious monastic life and the passion and adventure of secular life. Moving forward a few hundred years, there are two reflections on wars of the 20th century. After World War 2 — when most countries around the world were focused on recovery and rebuilding — the small country of Lithuania remained in a war situation as locals resisted Soviet occupation for about another 15 years. Sharanas Bartas’s film In The Dusk dramatically takes us into that desperate time and place. From the same era, but focused in a different part of Europe and Africa, Home Front is a Belgian film directed by Lucas Belvaux, where painful memories of the time of the French colonial war in Algeria explode into the present, opening up chapters of a toxic past which is still not fully spoken of today — and these are merely the tip of the iceberg.
The Traitor, 2020 (still).
In the Dusk, 2020 (still).
The films and documentaries that make up the flesh of the festival carry within them multiverses of discourses, creative expressions, H/histories and story’s of human movement and contact; traumatic and tender, violent and redemptive; extractive and nourishing. As expressed by festival curator Peter Rorvik:
These films give us much to think about, a common theme in all of them being Relationship. The wide range of relationships deal with antagonism, dominance, and dependency; with competition and conflict; with cooperation, friendship, and love; with class, race, and culture. It is also about relationship with ourselves, and with our environment, and the eco-systems of which we are a part. We cannot always control our circumstances, but how we manage these exchanges will mark our place in the world. This selection will not just entertain, but contribute to our awareness of relationships, guide our actions, and inform our ongoing journey of discovery; of the world and [of] ourselves.
The 8th, 2020 (still).