Europa! Europa Film Festival returns to Sydney and Melbourne for its third year from Thursday 15 February to Monday 11 March 2024.
Having scoured the globe for European cinematic gems, Europa! Europa 2024 presents a handpicked selection of entertaining, heartfelt, and thought-provoking films from compelling storytellers and new cinematic voices.
Featuring 47 films from 28 countries, Europa! Europa celebrates the world’s best new European films over three jam-packed weeks filled with prestige European cinema and entertaining Australian premiere screenings.
“This year’s Europa! Europa line-up is a testament to the power of diverse storytelling, offering a rich tapestry of narratives that speak to a wide array of experiences and emotions,” said Artistic Director Spiro Economopoulos.
“Each film, carefully selected, is not just a viewing experience but an invitation to engage with stories that resonate universally, truly exemplifying the essence of European cinema.”
OPENING NIGHT AND CENTREPIECE GALA SCREENING
In The Promised Land, Europa’s opening night screening and Denmark’s submission to the Academy Awards, viewers are transported to 1755 Denmark, where the impoverished soldier Ludvig Kahlen, played by Mads Mikkelsen, embarks on a quest to colonize the harsh Danish heath.
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel, this gripping tale weaves a land battle and an unexpected love story. Mikkelsen’s powerful performance was awarded Best European Actor at the European Film Awards. The festival kicks off with this opening night film at 7pm, preceded by drinks at 6:15pm.
Freud’s Last Session (United Kingdom) brings to life the intellectual clash between Sigmund Freud, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, and C.S. Lewis, played by Matthew Goode, over the existence of God.
Directed by Matt Brown, this adaptation of Mark St Germain’s play breaks free from its stage roots, offering a dynamic exploration of London. Anchored by Hopkins’ nuanced performance, the film is the Centrepiece Gala screening at the festival.
Highlighting the festival’s diverse program are three headline films offering powerful storytelling and visual mastery.
The Beast (France), directed by Bertrand Bonello (Nocturama, Saint Laurent), is a futuristic tale starring Léa Seydoux and George Mackay, set partly in a near future in which artificial intelligence is in control of everyone’s lives and human emotions are perceived as a threat. Based off Henry James’ novel The Beast in the Jungle, Bonello’s adaptation spans the past, present, and future, offering a genre-defying love story filled with unexpected twists.
Italy’s submission for the Best International Feature Film Academy Award and Winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director in Venice, Io Capitanois the new epic by Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah, Dogman) and follows the spellbinding odyssey of two teenagers, who decide to leave their home in Senegal and journey across the ocean to Europe in search of fame and fortune.
Poland’s submission for the Academy Awards, The Peasants (Poland), from directors DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman (Loving Vincent), adapts Wladyslaw Reymont’s Nobel Prize-winning novel into a visually captivating animated drama, capturing the trials of Jagna in a 19th-century Polish village with artistry reminiscent of classic Polish paintings.
The festival presents 4K restorations of two cinematic masterpieces. Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970) is a gripping exploration of fascism and identity, featuring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Stefania Sandrelli.
Jean Luc Godard’s Contempt (1963) is considered a landmark in world cinema and has been restored for its 60th anniversary. The story offers a poignant portrayal of a crumbling marriage starring screen legends Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli.
From unexpected love triangles to quirky film-making adventures and hypnotherapy mishaps, Europa’s line-up of comedies dives into the lighter side of cinema.
Two of the biggest names in Spanish comedy, Paco León and Ernesto Alterio, star in a hilarious take on bromance and masculinity withCo-Husbands (Spain); a story that follow two men who discover they’re married to the same woman and are forced to coexist.
The Summer with Carmen (Greece) is a quirky queer comedy set in Athens, where Demosthenes and Nikitas brainstorm a film script about a summer, a dog named Carmen, and a complicated relationship. This light-hearted film-within-a-film, with its nods to Spike Jonze’s Adaptation, playfully explores friendship and storytelling.
And The Hypnosis(France) takes a darkly humorous look at a tech couple’s weekend retreat gone awry when a hypnotherapy session leads to uninhibited chaos.
The festival’s line-up of high-quality dramas is a showcase of intricate storytelling and compelling characters, woven together by their deep explorations of human experiences.
Les Indésirables (France, Belgium), directed by Ladj Ly (Les Misérables), follows a young French woman’s fight against her Parisian suburb’s destruction, while Red Island (France, Belgium), by Robin Campillo, acclaimed director of BPM, offers a poignant coming-of-age tale in Madagascar.
In Blaga’s Lessons (Germany, Bulgaria), a widow’s slide into scamming, brilliantly portrayed by Eli Skorcheva, reveals a gripping moral descent. Shifting to a mysterious thriller, Timm Kröger’s The Universal Theory (Austria, Germany, Switzerland) combines Hitchcockian suspense with metaphysical intrigue.
Finally, Just the Two of Us (France), directed by Valerie Donzelli and starring Virginie Efira, explores the emotional turmoil of a woman trapped in a possessive relationship.
Europa! Europa presents a contemplative exploration of a divisive figure’s journey towards redemption. High & Low: John Galliano (France, United Kingdom), directed by Kevin Macdonald, chronicles the rise and fall of fashion icon John Galliano.
This compelling documentary features interviews with Galliano, Kate Moss, Penelope Cruz and Charlize Theron, delving into his fall from grace and quest for redemption amidst a backdrop of cultural and political complexities.
YORGOS LANTHIMOS RETROSPECTIVE
Following the success of Poor Things, the festival’s retrospective honours the distinctive vision of Yorgos Lanthimos, a key figure in the Greek Weird Wave. Featuring six of his films, the retrospective embodies the festival’s spirit with its wicked humour and unique stylistic approach.
Lanthimos’ work, known for turning familiar genres and stories on their head, offers a journey through cinema that is surreal, provocative, and entertaining.
The Europa! Europa Film Festival takes place at the Ritz Cinemas Randwick (15 February – 10 March) and the Classic Cinemas Elsternwick and Lido Cinemas Hawthorn (15 February – 11 March). For more information, full program and to purchase tickets, visit: www.europafilmfestival.com.au for details.
Image: The Promised Land (supplied)