27th European Union Film Festival at the National Gallery Singapore
The 27th edition of the European Union Film Festival featuring a diverse range of film genres will be held at the National Gallery Singapore this May.
The 27th edition of the European Union Film Festival (EUFF), Singapore’s longest running foreign film festival, will run from May 11 to May 21, 2017 and for the first time, all the films will be screened at the National Gallery Singapore (NGS). Dr. Michael Pulch, European Union Ambassador to Singapore noted that “the Gallery provides the important cultural context for the EUFF to grow as the European Union’s flagship cultural event in Singapore”.
27 feature films which run the gamut from dramas to thrillers, comedies to animation have been selected to showcase Europe’s diversity of cultural expressions and multifaceted artistic vision in the field of cinema. While European films in languages other than English are shown at selected cinemas across the island, the upcoming festival will offer audiences in Singapore an opportunity to access a variety of films that rarely receive commercial screenings outside Europe. The selected films are all recent and have been well received within their country of origin while some like Finland’s ‘The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki’ which picked up the ‘Prix Un Certain Regard’ at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival have been internationally acclaimed.
NGS, which houses the largest public collection of modern art in Singapore and Southeast Asia is an interesting choice of location for the film festival. Drawing on the linkage between art and film NGS’s CEO, Ms Chong Siak Ching stated, “The interplay between art and film is something that has fascinated us, and films have been a staple of the Gallery’s programming”. Film tickets to the festival will include free admission to NGS’s galleries so that the attendees can appreciate and enjoy the collection of Southeast Asian artworks, many of which are infused with European references.
Fitting right into the theme of art and film is the Swiss film ‘The Chinese Lives of Uli Sigg’. The documentary offers insights into the life of Uli Sigg who, in the span of 40 years, built up one of the largest collection of Chinese contemporary art. Director Michael Schindhelm explains that the film is about the modernisation of China, and that the artworks in Sigg’s collection appear to tell the stories of an unprecedented epoch filled with economic, social and ecological changes. The film gives Chinese artists of three generations and their works a voice and through it, they speak about society. Both Sigg and the film’s director Michael Schindhelm will be present for the film screening on 16 May and the post-show conversation.
The Danish film ‘Marie Krøyer’ (2012), traces the tragic life of the wife of the Danish painter P.S. Krøyer. As his mental illness deteriorates, Marie is torn between her roles of wife, mother and artist. She meets and falls in love with the Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén but as she leaves her husband for her new love, more tumult lies ahead of her.
Literary arts enthusiasts can look forward to a number of adaptations: ‘Goodbye Berlin’ (Tschick) (2016), which will open the festival, is a film adaptation of the cult novel ‘Why We Took The Car’ by Wolfgang Herrndorf; ‘Problemski Hotel’ (2015), draws on Dimitri Verhulst internationally acclaimed book of the same name; and ‘Beyond Sleep’ (2016) is based on the best-selling novel ‘Nooit Meer Slapen’ (1966) by Willem Frederik Hermans.
The Film Festival not only opens a window into the intriguing world of European cinema but also offers Singapore’s film-goers an opportunity to discover the work of local talent through its film school partnership programme. Working for the third time with Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film and Media Studies, the EUFF will present short films by students and alumni of the school alongside the official film selection.
The Festival will also allow film fans the chance to engage with productions from countries that rarely make it to the movie screens here such as Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic: Malta’s entry is a romantic comedy titled ‘20,000 Reasons’ (2016) about two Maltese families who do not see eye-to-eye and an heiress in a race against time to get married; Romania’s ‘Two Lottery Tickets’ (2016), which won the Comedy Award at the 2017 St. Augustine Film Festival and a Special Mention at the Zurich Film Festival (2016), revolves around three protagonists who find out that it is not enough to be declared winner at the lottery but that one needs to ‘suffer’ to become a millionaire; and Slovak Republic’s ‘Soul at Peace, a story of friendship and betrayal’ (2009), set in the mountain town of Ciery Hiron tackles issues of patriarchal families, racial discrimination and lumber theft alongside tradition, faith, friendship, and love.
And though the United Kingdom has elected to leave the European Union, for now it is still very much a part of it and therefore included in the EUFF. Selected from the United Kingdom is the film ‘Electricity’ (2014) which traces the journey of a young girl with epilepsy who goes in search of her brother whom she has long thought was dead.
Of the 27 movies, seven are in English while the rest have English subtitles. Each film highlights a specific country but all together, the works are representative of Europe’s multifaceted cultural heritage.
More information at euff.sg
This article was written by Durriya Dohadwala and originally published in Art Republik.