9 films to reel you in at this year’s European Union Film Festival

The long-running European Union Film Festival (EUFF) is back for its 28th run, returning once again to their newfound home from last year, National Gallery Singapore. Taking place from May 10-20, the festival presents more than 20 gripping, provocative and hilarious films from across the continent.

And keeping with the long-standing tradition of collaborating with a Singapore film school, the festival will be partnering with Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s prestigious School of Film and Media Studies for the fourth time to present a couple of short films by their students and alumni—each of which will be presented just before the screening of the festival’s official selections—like Boo Junfeng’s Un Retrato De Familia (A Family Portrait) and Kirsten Tan’s Ten Minutes Later.

A couple of things you can expect from the festival—the opening film is a showcase on Austria set in 1945 Vienna; there are two war-type films from Denmark and Norway that showcase how certain decisions and actions during wartime help set the course of history; three inclusive films from Ireland, Poland and the UK tell the stories of people with special needs and the challenges they face; five feel-good films on familiar topics of love, friendship and family hailing from Spain, Italy, Portugal, Latvia and Malta; a spotlight on films with female leads from Switzerland, Belgium and Germany that offer authentic perspectives from women… and so, much, more.

Year in and year out, the EUFF never fail to feature some of the best of contemporary European cinema. If you’re planning to catch all the films, we salute you. But if you’re wondering how you can get started, check out our picks below. Tickets are $11 a pop via Sistic.

Fly Away Home (May 10, 7pm / May 18, 7pm)

This is a 2016 Austrian drama epic based on the novel of the same title by Christine Nostlinger. The film is set in Vienna at the end of World War II and shows us the capital through the lens of an innocent nine-year-old girl.

Custody (May 12, 7pm)

A divorce is never a pretty thing, especially when there are kids involved and domestic violence is on the table. This French film, which won the Silver Lion for Best Director and Best First Film at last year’s Venice Film Festival, is exactly that. Young Julien is put in a terrible position when a judge rules in favor of joint custody, instead of his mother’s request for sole custody in order to protect him from his father whom she claims is violent.

Perfect Strangers (May 13, 9pm)

Here’s a fun film that might leave you wanting to try with your pillars of support. The dramedic Perfect Strangers is a deceptively simple film where seven friends decide to play a friendly dinner party game, after one of them brings up the topic of secrets. The rules: whenever a text or a call comes in, share it with the party. Just what could go wrong, right?

Fragment (May 15, 6:30pm)

The European Union in Singapore teams up with the Asian Film Archive to present Fragment, an anthology film that showcases the prowess and variety of talent in Southeast Asia’s independent cinema scene through 10 stories by filmmakers from Singapore, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Insyriated (May 17, 9pm)

As its name suggests, this film is about a family in Syria who’s trapped within their own home. The mother does her very best to keep the family together, but every decision she makes becomes a matter of life and death, especially with snipers lurking on the rooftops above, and strangers knocking on the door; turning their humble abode into a prison.

The Divine Order (May 18, 9pm)

Down with the patriarchy! The year is 1971 and Nora, a simple and well-liked housewife and mother in a little village in the Swiss countryside, slowly begins to see the injustice and unfairness of how women are treated in her town. Provoked, she goes out to fight for women’s suffrage. This is her story.

Fukushima, Mon Amour (May 19, 9pm)

This beautiful German film shines the spotlight on two women—a German volunteer and the last geisha of Fukushima—who both retreat to the once radioactive Exclusion Zone of the city to confront their own dark pasts. While they both come from completely different worlds, they both go on a journey to let bygones be bygones and rid themselves of self-guilt.

Land of Mine (May 20, 7pm)

It’s a film about humanity, overcoming personal hatred and real connection, which takes places days after the end of the war in May 1945. A bunch of German prisoners of war are tasked to disarm 45,000 mines buried in the sand on the beaches of Denmark’s West Coast by the German occupying forces. With so much at stake and after years of hardships during the occupation, the man in charge of the young POWs is merciless, until a tragic incident changes his view of his sworn enemy. The film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at last year’s Oscars.

Sangarid (May 20, 4pm)

Throwback to the ’80s and dive into Estonia’s soviet past, where three young men leave their country to head West and live out a dream they’ve learned about in the movies, only to realize that it’s much tougher than they’d expect it to be. Still not thwarted, they put their heads together to come up with ways to make sure they make it in the Western world.