From international film festival favourites to star-studded blockbusters and subversive works helmed by Europe’s most celebrated auteurs, Europa! Europa is set to bring the very best of European cinema to Australian shores for the first time from 4 – 27 February 2022.
Featuring 43 films from 42 countries, the Festival brings Europe’s most innovative, audacious and daring films to audiences down under in Sydney and Melbourne.
“I am thrilled to present Europa! Europa’s incredible inaugural program, brimming with bold and daring Australian premieres which encapsulate the unrestrained spirit of European cinema and span the full cultural breadth of the continent.”
“From terrifying Scandi-horror to acclaimed titles direct from Cannes and powerful ruminations on the experiences of refugees in Europe – the Festival gives Australian audiences the opportunity to see Europe’s hottest titles fast tracked to their local cinema,” says Europa! Europa Film Festival Director, Thomas Caldwell.
OPENING AND CLOSING NIGHTS:
Launching the Festival’s inaugural program is The Souvenir Part II, British filmmaker Joanna Hogg’s (Archipelago) sequel to her acclaimed autobiographical feature The Souvenir. Starring film icon Tilda Swinton (The French Dispatch) and her real-life daughter Honor Swinton-Byrne, Hogg’s film is a shimmering story of a young woman’s formative years during which she attempts to find her voice as a filmmaker in the aftermath of personal tragedy. Audiences will be also able to catch the first installment of The Souvenir which is screening as part of the Festival.
Closing the Festival is writer-director Bruno Dumont’s (Coincoin and the Extra Humans) 2021 Cannes Palme d’Or nominated satire France, a rich and beguiling critique of the French media landscape featuring charismatic French star Léa Seydoux (No Time To Die, The French Dispatch). Seydoux plays star journalist France de Muers, whose frantic high profile world is turned upside down after a traffic accident in which she injures a pedestrian.
DIRECT FROM CANNES:
Cinematic gems from Cannes 2021 include: Norwegian director Eskil Vogt’s (Blind) Un Certain Regard nominated The Innocents, a gripping supernatural thriller about a group of children harbouring dark and mysterious powers; Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen’s (The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki) 2021 Grand Prix winning Compartment No. 6, exploring the unconventional love story that takes place between two strangers sharing a Russian train journey through the Arctic Circle.
Coming of age stories from Cannes include Croatian filmmaker Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s Caméra d’Or for best first feature film winning Murina, an engrossing drama exploring the shifting power dynamic between a restless teenager, her oppressive father and an old family friend that boasts Martin Scorsese as one of its executive producers.
Spanish filmmaker Clara Roquet’s long-awaited feature debut Libertad, a vibrant sun-kissed drama on the Cerulean Catalan seas about the tremulous fizz of female friendship and desire, alongside a contemplation of class and wealth.
Also from Cannes is Belgian filmmaker Joachim Lafosse’s Palme d’Or nominated The Restless, a deeply compelling depiction of what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder, inspired by Lafosse’s own experiences growing up with a bipolar father.
INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS:
Fresh from the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival is two-time Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard winner Michel Franco’s (New Order, After Lucia) intense drama Sundown, a riveting and incisive study of class disparity and familial strife starring Oscar nominated actor Tim Roth (Bergman Island) and Charlotte Gainsbourg (Nymphomaniac).
Berlin International Film Festival 2021 standouts include: FIPRESCI prize winner Brother’s Keeper, a tense moral drama set at a Turkish boarding school that explores a boy’s struggle to help his sick friend get to hospital in the face of bureaucratic obstacles put up by the school’s repressive authorities; and Copilot, a powerful yet sensitive portrayal of self-deception and love based on the true story of radicalised United Airlines Flight 93 hijacker-pilot Ziad Jarrah and his wife Aysel Sengun.
2021 Venice Film Festival Venice Horizons Award nominee True Things is a compelling psychodrama from BAFTA-nominated director Harry Wootliff’s (Only You) about a perennially unattached woman who becomes emotionally entangled with an intoxicating stranger who overwhelms her quiet life. Starring Ruth Wilson (The Affair) and Tom Burke (The Souvenir).
Celebrated French writer-director Lucile Hadžihalilovic (Innocence, Evolution) makes her English-language film debut with Earwig, a hauntingly beautiful hallucinatory drama about a man employed to look after a 10-year-old girl with teeth made of ice. Winner of 2021 San Sebastián International Film Festival Special Prize of the Jury.
The program features submissions from 13 countries across Europe for Best International Feature Film category at the 94th Academy Awards.
Cinematic gems from the Balkans include: Bulgaria’s Fear, a social satire shot in black and white that expertly blends drama, romance and ultra-black comedy to explore racial prejudice in small communities.
From North Macedonia comes Sisterhood – a strong coming-of-age tale about toxic friendships, culpability and responsibility that explores the story of a slut shaming victim from the unique perspective of the perpetrator.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s The White Fortress, a gritty yet romantic social-realist fairytale about a timid teen from a politically powerful family and an orphan who spends his days foraging for scrap metal and dabbling in petty crime.
Set in the wild mountains of Connemara, Irish Gaelic language submission Shelter is a look at what happens when a socially inept recluse must navigate friendship and love for the first time, and the role toxic masculinity plays in undermining both.
Swiss entry Olga is a compelling psychological portrait of a dedicated young gymnast training for the European Championship in preparation for the Olympics.
On the Water is a tender coming-of-age story from Estonia about a sensitive teenager who lacks friends his own age and finds friendship among the drunks, sex-workers and thieves who are his neighbours.
Also screening is Iraqi entry Europa, an immersive and visceral drama from Iraqi-Italian filmmaker Haider Rashid (No Borders). Inspired on real events, the film explores the experiences of migrants on the so-called ‘Balkan Route’ where they are smuggled into the continent across the Turkish border and often subjected to violence, intimidation and illegal pushback.
Familiar faces feature in: Zero Fucks Given, starring Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Colour) as a robotic flight attendant who must confront her repressed feelings; and The Storms of Jeremy Thomas, where filmmaker Mark Cousins (The Story of Film) joins Oscar-winning maverick producer Jeremy Thomas on his annual pilgrimage to the Cannes Film Festival.
Fans of historical dramas will be fascinated by Evolution, acclaimed filmmaking team of director Kornél Mundruczó and writer Kata Wéber’s (Academy Award nominated Pieces of a Woman) powerful drama tracing three generations of a Jewish family from World War II to modern day Berlin; and atmospheric anti-war drama Natural Light, delving into the moral issues of complicity and personal responsibility during times of war.
From France comes ultra-dark social satire Bloody Oranges, beginning with a series of intersecting comedic vignettes before brutally transforming into a graphic and provocative critique of moral hypocrisy; and acclaimed filmmaker Gaspar Noé’s (Climax) sobering drama Vortex, depicting the tragedy of an elderly couple in decline due to the onset of dementia.
Also screening is ambitious real-time one-shot thriller Nightride, a high-octane ride in the driver’s seat with a small-time dealer through the streets of Belfast.
Rounding out the program is acclaimed documentary Cow, British filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s observational portrait of a dairy cow on an English farm. Additionally, the Festival will present special screenings of a 4K restoration of Mike Leigh’s masterwork Naked, and a new edition cut of landmark Italian film Gomorrah, from director Matteo Garrone (Dogman).
The 2022 Europa! Europa Film Festival screens in Melbourne at Classic Cinemas (Elsternwick) & Lido Cinemas (Hawthorn), and in Sydney at Ritz Cinemas (Randwick) from 4 – 27 February. For more information and full program, visit: www.europafilmfestival.com.au for details.
Image: The Souvenir Part Two (supplied)