Cinema: European Film Festival, South Africa 2020- 12 films screening on the festival virtual platform – all free – with the exception of I am Greta

What: European Film Festival, South Africa 2020 When: November 12-22, 2020 Where: Online only. No in person screenings Platform: Number of films: Twelve Bookings open: November 1, 2020 Tickets: Free -no charge – except for I am Greta (R50 a ticket) Limited tickets: 400 tickets available for screenings Rental period: Five days to watch each film, before ‘rental’ expires Access: Geo-locked for audiences out of SA

The European Film Festival 2020 is screening from South Africa on the festival’s platform. The entire festival will go out virtually – online. There will not be any in-person screenings or drive in events.

Twelve new films- around relationships

There are twelve new films on the festival which have been curated by Peter Rorvik. The curatorial prompt is around relationships: “…antagonism, dominance, and dependency; with competition and conflict; with cooperation, friendship, and love; with class, race, and culture.” Relationships intersect with everything – personal, political, geo-political. The intensity of relationships have become heightened during the pandemic and global lockdowns and these films are likely to make viewers reflect deeply about themselves, the world and their place in a global landscape which is shifting and is unfathomable to many.

All the films on this 2020 virtual edition, are free to watch, with the exception of I am Greta which is being screened as fundraiser to support a climate change charity. Tickets are R50.

How it works – ‘rent’ your film – onlinedon’t be confused – read on

Virtual film festivals have become the industry standard during the pandemic. For those who are new to streaming online, a few pointers: You book for a film by ‘renting’ it but with the exception of I am Greta, there is no charge. Don’t freak when you see rent’ flash on the screening. Your bill will be zero – except for I am Greta. This documentary (Nathan Grossman, Sweden) is a fundraiser and tracks journey of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg from her solo school strike to her wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City. Tickets are R50.

There has been some confusion at other virtual film festivals which has led to steaming anxiety. At some festivals, films were released on different days and were only available to watch in a fixed window of time – for example for 48 hours. Other titles may have been available throughout.

With the European Film Festival, South Africa 2020, it is easy to navigate. All the films will be available from start to finish of the festival.

You book – ie you ‘rent’ your film/s and then you have five days to watch the film/s. The rental expires after five days. If your rental expires, you can go back onto the site and rent the film again, if it is available.

Yes, the European Film Festival, South Africa 2020, is online but limited tickets available

Tickets to each screening are limited to 400 tickets so you may find that the film is ‘sold out’.

This may seem like a strange concept as the tickets are free but the principle is as if you were attending a screening at a bricks and mortar cinema. Tickets may be free but the venue carries a fixed capacity in terms of seating.

The European Film Festival 2020 – the 7th edition of the festival -is a partnership project of the Delegation of the European Union to South Africa and 12 other European embassies and cultural agencies in South Africa: the Embassies of Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Wallonie-Bruxelles International, the French Institute in South Africa, the Goethe-Institut, the Italian Cultural Institute, and the British Council. The festival is organised in cooperation with CineEuropa and coordinated by Creative WorkZone. Dr Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador to South Africa, says: “Twelve films in eleven days shows the determination of this European partnership to overcome difficult circumstances. Since my arrival in South Africa this is my second European Film Festival: I can tell you that it is a cultural highlight not to be missed. In addition, I invite you to participate in the various special events lined up during the Festival!” 

Here is the programme, as supplied by the festival

Old Worlds and New 

Invoking a moment of reflection, and the opportunity to reset our attitude to the world and our 2020 circumstances, this year’s 7th edition of the European Film Festival, is about Then and Now, with the films inscribing an arc from Old Worlds to New. 

Starting in the Middle Ages, this year’s Austrian film is based on the story of Narcissus and Goldmund, written by Nobel-prize winning author Hermann Hesse, and directed here by Oscar-winning Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters). It examines the powerful bond between two very different characters, amidst the dichotomy between religious monastic life and the passion and adventure of secular life. 

Moving forward a few hundred years, there are two reflections on wars of the 20th century. After World War 2, when most countries around the world were focused on recovery and rebuilding, the small country of Lithuania remained in a war situation as locals resisted Soviet occupation for about another 15 years. Sharanas Bartas’s film In The Dusk dramatically takes us into that desperate time and place. From the same era, but focused in a different part of Europe and Africa, Home Front is a Belgian film directed by Lucas Belvaux, where painful memories of the time of the French colonial war in Algeria explode into the present, opening up chapters of a toxic past which is still not fully spoken of today. 

Marco Bellocchio’s award-winning film The Traitor takes us into the 1980s when a whistleblowing mafia boss-turned-informer triggers the largest prosecution of the Sicilian mafia in Italian history. A riveting insight into the operations of one of the world’s most notorious crime syndicates. 

The German film Curveball, directed by Johannes Naber, is a thriller that catapults viewers into the 21st century. In a sober warning about how terribly easy it is to slip into war, this is a fact-based story about how a lie regarding chemical weapons, sets in motion a chain of events that results in the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, forever changing the global political landscape. 

On a much lighter note, the Spanish film directed by Bernabe Rico, One Careful Owner, tells how a woman buys a new home with a certain ‘inconvenience’, namely that the 80-year old current owner will remain living in it until she dies. The two very different women in this story will form an unlikely friendship filled with tenderness, emotion and much laughter. 

Another film focusing on female relationships, and in this case a mother-daughter relationship, is the French film Proxima, by director Alice Winocour, about a French woman astronaut who is forced to consider her priorities of family versus career. 

There are two stories of unique emancipation and self-discovery – the first is the Dutch film, Becoming Mona, directed by Sabine Lubbe Bakker and Niels van Koevorden, in which we follow, from childhood through to adulthood, Mona’s struggle to break free from the stifling constraints of a life lived in service of other people’s egos. The UK film this year is Bassam Tariq’s Mogul Mowgli, starring Riz Ahmed as a rapper on the verge of a big international tour when he gets cut down with a severe illness, causing him to confront his Pakistani/English culture, and himself. 

The Polish film Sweat by director Magnus van Horn focuses on a fitness motivator who has become a social media celebrity and influencer – it’s about how she wrestles with the nature of her popularity and what loneliness and intimacy mean in her world, all highly pertinent issues in this modern digital era. 

The festival also includes two powerful documentaries. The Irish representative, The 8th, is about the highly emotive and divisive topic of abortion and women’s reproductive rights. Here, three award-winning women directors, Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy, and Maeve O’Boyle, follow the grassroots activism of the campaign to repeal the 1983 8th amendment (which criminalised abortions) in a defining moment of Irish history. 

Finally, bringing us right up to date, is a film which focuses our attention on one of the greatest crises humanity has ever faced, climate change. Nathan Grossman’s deeply personal Swedish documentary I am Greta follows the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg from her one-person school strike to her astonishing wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City. 

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