A Feast of Film: 11 Days in May

A Feast of Film: 11 Days in May

By Ken Hickson

The European Union Film Festival  represented a visual feast – 27 films from 27 countries – while a 28th film slipped in, making it two from Germany.
When launching the event, Mr Michael Pulch, EU Ambassador to Singapore, had this to say: “This is especially significant as we mark the 60th anniversary of the European Union this year. With the 27th edition of the EUFF, we celebrate the diversity and pluralism of Europe and continue to reinforce the cultural cooperation and collaboration between Europe and Singapore.”
The festival certainly demonstrated “Europe’s contemporary creativity, its diversity of cultural expressions and multifaceted artistic vision”. This was reflected in the selection, ranging from dramas to thrillers, comedies to animation.                                                                                               With films hailing from across Europe, it offered audiences in Singapore an opportunity to access a variety of films that rarely receive commercial screenings outside Europe thus becoming a cultural bridge between Europe and Singapore.
Thanks to the organisers – Deepika Shetty in particular – we were invited to see five films: The Murmuring Coast (from Portugal), Problemski Hotel (Belguim), Soul at Peace (Solvakia), Ivy (Turkey) and Young Sophie Bell (Sweden).
The first and the last for us were stand outs.
“The Murmuring Coast” gave us some unexpected insight in the past colonial mistakes in the 1960s of Portugal in Africa. It was honestly and convincingly acted and filmed.                                                              “Young Sophie Bell” was the star attraction for us. Beautifully filmed and portraying some excellent acting, most notably by Felice Jankell, who won the Guldbagge Best Actress Award (Sweden’s Oscar equivalent) for playing Sophie.
The National Gallery provided a fitting venue for the film screenings but you would think in this technological age, there would be a way to manage the climate in its small but well designed “cinema”.
We know Singaporeans and visitors continue to freeze in the super cooled public cinemas in the city, but such a select cultural institution like the National Gallery – which involved the superb architectural transformation of two colonial gems (the old Supreme Court and City Hall) – could have made sure the air conditioning was managed so patrons didn’t need to come armed with coats and scarves. Maybe it was on purpose to create a European atmosphere to go with the films!
Other than that, the Festival was a big success and it was such a welcome touch when various embassies – and Ambassadors as well – fronted up and offered appropriate drinks and snacks to festival goers prior to screenings. Thanks to Portugal and Sweden in particular! All adding to the festival atmosphere. More films from Europe please. – Ken Hickson

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