This year, the European Film Festival celebrates Europe Day with more than 60 “movies of all kinds”, out of which more than 35 movies will be seen for the first time in Romania. It will be a special edition, now, when Romania celebrates 10 years since it joined EU, which coincides also with ten years since the Romanian Cultural Institute took over the organization of this festival from the European Commission Representation. This year, the festival is not limited only to classical performances, it challenges its public to debate, inviting them even to experience virtual reality, in expositions held at MNAR and the Czech Center.
“The festival is a selection of movies from the European countries. Embassies had an important role in selecting the movies, it was a permanent dialogue. Some of the movies were my suggestion, other movies were the suggestion of the cultural institutes and embassies. The European Commission Representation is an important partner, to which we discussed many things in advance in establishing the direction of this festival” stated Alex Traila, the Artistic Manager of the Festival, in a press conference. “The more than 60 movies included in the selection of the festival are a mirror of the contemporary European society. I was sure that our European unity can easy find its roots by assuming a common cultural unity” Alex Traila also stated.
In the opening of the press conference, Anca Hrab, the ICR representative, spoke, making a review of the festival’s history, appreciating that “it meant a lot for the Romanian Cultural Institute”, becoming “one of the most beloved projects organized at national level”.
Vincent Lambotte, the coordinator of the Communication Department of the EU Representation in Romania, and Frantisek Zachoval, President of the EUNIC Romania cluster and Director of the Czech Center in Bucharest, outlined the importance of holding a European film festival in Bucharest, thus “making the culture of the old continent better known”.
The 21st edition of FFE (European Film Festival – e.n.) is held in Bucharest and in other 4 Romanian cities: Bucharest (May 4 to 11); Iasi (May 12 to 14); Targu Mures (May 19 to 21); Gura Humorului (May 19 to 21) and Timisoara (May 26 to 28). For the first time in its history, the gala movie, Cealalta parte a sperantei (The Other Side of Hope – e.n.) (Finland, 2017), directed by Aki Kaurismäki, a premiere in Romania, will open all of the 5 editions of the Festival. Gabriel Achim’s movie, Ultima zi (The Last Day – e.n.) (Romania, 2016), starring the actor Doru Ana, can also be seen in all of the 5 cities, in the presence of the members of the team, while in Bucharest it will be screened at the closing ceremony, on May 11, at the Peasant Museum Cinema. Radu Mihaileanu’s most recent movie, Povestea iubirii/History of Love (2016), can be previewed, before its premiere screened at TIFF, at the Summer Garden in Timisoara, on Saturday, May 27.
FFE 2017 proposes 64 documentaries, biographic movies, dramas, comedies, animations, thriller and horror movies, short films and medium films, experimental movies and VR (virtual reality) screenings. 42 of them were released in 2017 and 2016.
The Opening Gala and the screenings in the ARTE special section will be held at the National Art Museum of Romania – the Auditorium Hall, while the other performances in Bucharest will be held at the Peasant Museum Cinema – the “Horia Bernea” Studio, Cinema Elvire Popesco, the Czech Center, the Cervantes Institute and the European Public Area. The access is free to the local editions screenings and to those at the cultural centers in Bucharest.
Special Sections of the Festival are: AGORA – movies that are capable to generate debates on relevant topics for the society; ARTE – movies provided by the ARTE TV channel, available for classical screenings and through the VR (virtual reality) technology; LUX – the 3 finalist movies at the most recent edition of the LUX Prize of the European Parliament (the tenth edition), offered by the European Parliament Bureau in Romania; Banda Desenata (Comic Strip – e.n.) – for celebrating the European Comic Salon, FFE proposes an evening of movies inspired by comics, on May 8; Public Tanar (Young Audience – e.n.) – movies for children and teenagers; Film Republic Moldova – short films and medium films from the Republic of Moldova.
Alex Traila mentioned in the press conference that in addition to the Agora section, FFE organizes, independently or in partnership, debates on relevant topics for the society: Trafficking in Human Beings and Life Choices (May 5 at Talent Garden, 11:30 ), a debate based on the movies Fixeur (2016) and Marija (2016); Migration, acceptance through empathy (in partnership with the SUPER Festival, May 8, Romanian Cultural Institute, 16:00), a debate based on The Other Side of Hope (2017); Preparing Romania’s position in the reform of the European audiovisual policy (May 8, Talent Garden, 23-25 Ion Brezoianu Street, 11:00); #ReconstructingEurope from Sarajevo (in partnership with SNSPA, 11 May, SNSPA Hall, 18:45), a debate based on the movie Asediul (The Siege – e.n.) (2016).
Paul Negoescu, the ambassador of the 2017 edition of FFE and the author of the promoting video of the festival, couldn’t be present at the press conference. However, he sent a short message: “For me, the cinema is a universal language and I can’t divide it by geographic areas, ethnicities or nationalities. I like in the same extent the European, American, Iranian, Japanese movies, etc. Yet, the European film has a special significance for me, because in the European movie, I find more values in which I believe. In the European movie, the author’s view prevails over the financial interest of an investor, and when the author is totally free to create, there can arise movies that are authentic, unconventional, daring, etc. Moreover, in times that seem to bring increasingly more split between people, the film industry manages to resist like a social core that brings us together, and the European movie is no exception.”
The European Film Festival is organized by the Romanian Cultural Institute, under the aegis of EUNIC Romania, together with the Representation of the European Commission, with the support of the European embassies and cultural centers, of the National Art Museum, Romanian Peasant Museum/Peasant Museum Cinema, French Institute – Cinema Elvire Popesco, Czech Center, Cervantes Institute, European Public Area, UCIN and Information Office of the European Parliament.
Photo credit: Sorin Nainer