A preview of the 20th European Union Film Festival (6 to 16 May 2010)

2 05 2010

The 20th European Union Film Festival (EUFF) caught my attention with an invitation to a bloggers’ preview at the Spanish Embassy, during which a Sam Garbarski movie, Irina Palm, as screened. The tragicomedy which made its debut at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival,  although directed by the Francophone Garbarski who hails from Belgium, comes into the festival as a Luxembourg entry and is in English and filmed entirely in an English setting, having been co-produced by Belgium, Luxembourg, Britain, Germany and France. The movie revolves around the main character, Maggie, a self described frumpy middle-aged grandmother played by Marianne Faithfull, who, by the circumstances surrounding her, is driven to accepting a job in one of the sleazy joints that London’s Soho district is known for. Marianne Faithfull gives a splendidly touching performance as Maggie in this heartwarming story in which Maggie’s grandson, Olly (Corey Burke), requires life saving treatment in Australia. Olly’s parents, Maggie’s son Tom (Kevin Bishop) and daughter-in-law, Sarah (Siobhán Hewlett) have no means of paying for the passage to Australia. Maggie desperately seeks a way to raise the required sum, and is unsuccessful in her attempts to persuade the banks to lend her the required amount. This does not stop her and she stumbles to Sexy World, a private club in Soho, where she sees a “Hostess Wanted” sign outside the door. In her desperation, Maggie naively walks through the door to discover that “Hostess”, as explained by club owner Miki (Miki Manojlovic), is a euphemism for “Whore”. Accepting a position offered, she eventually finds success as Irina Palm, eventually being able to raise the required sum.

Marianne Faithfull gives a splendid performance as Maggie a.k.a. Irina Palm for which she was nominated for the Best Actress Award at the European Film Awards in 2007.

Irina Palm is one of the delightful movies being lined up for the EUFF, which returns for its 20th year, and follows on its sell-out success last year. The festival aims to bring to local audiences a visual odyssey through the rich and diverse cultures of the European Union through 17 critically acclaimed films that have won awards and nominations in prestigious festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, and even includes an Oscar nominee.

The 20th EUFF is on at GV VivoCity from 6 to 16 May.

The EUFF also sees the EU encouraging cinematic exchange and fostering closer cultural exchange between Europe and Singapore, and will this year see the partnership of  Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film and Media Studies (in screening some of its students’ best short films before the start of selected feature films) providing promising young filmmakers with an opportunity to see their works on the big screen alongside those of acclaimed directors, while offering the local audiences a glimpse of some of the young cinematic talents in Singapore.

The Programme for the 20th EUFF. 17 European films will be screened over 11 days.

Highlights of the festival include the opening film and gala premiere of Broken Embraces (Spain) by famed director Pedro Almodóvar, starring Penelope Cruz (one week ahead of its commercial launch); The Father of my Children (France), winner of a Special Jury Award at Cannes Film Festival in 2009; Unmade Beds (UK) – nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival; and The Secret of Kells (Ireland), an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature Film in 2010. The Festival will be officially opened on 6 May 2010 at Golden Village VivoCity by Guest-of-Honour Mr Sam Tan, Parliamentary Secretary for Information, Communications and the Arts, and will run until at Golden Village VivoCity until 16 May 2010. More information on the EUFF and a synopsis of each of the films can be found at its website www.euff.sgTickets go on sale from 22 April 2010.

About the EUFF:

The European Union Film Festival is an annual event that showcases a collection of films which draws on the diverse and rich culture of Europe. The film festival, now in its twentieth year, is a window into the intriguing world of European cinema. The films showcased in this festival may belong to a specific country, but they are all representative of Europe’s common cultural heritage. The richness of Europe’s culture is world renowned. Language, literature, performing arts, visual arts, architecture, crafts, broadcasting and of course, cinema all celebrates Europe’s cultural diversity and history.