Forget the Eurostar; all aboard the Culture Express
Forget the Eurostar; all aboard the Culture Express
- By Amanda Chai
- | Apr 08, 2019
If you’ve been feeling the film festival drought as of late, the next one is just around the corner. Returning for its 29th edition at the National Gallery Singapore, the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) will present 27 films from across Europe, from May 10-19.
Easily one of the longest running film festivals in Singapore, EUFF continues its charge as a platform for a visual cross-section of all the European countries. This year, Romania takes the spotlight as the country of focus, with Romanian film Beside Me opening the festival. The inspirational drama film, which explores human connectivity in a cramped space—when several passengers find themselves locked in a subway station—is directed by Tedy Necula, the first Romanian director with a disability. Expounding on the theme of human connection in the film, a representative from the Embassy of Romania in Singapore said, “Sometimes in urban spaces we’re put together artificially, but our minds and our hearts are miles apart.”
So buckle up; it's less about scenic landscapes, and more on everyday human emotions and themes funnelled through Europe's cultural heritage. There are also tons of other genres to devour in the coming line-up. From biopics to historical dramas, comedy to romance, to thrillers and documentaries—you’re bound to find something to watch. Here are nine more worth keeping an eye out for.
The Wave (Norway)
If you’ve come to expect of your Norwegian flicks still, contemplative panoramas of the Nordic landscape, you’re in for a rude shock this year. Director Roar Uthaug’s The Wave is an edge-of-your-seat action thriller that takes on the classic ‘tsunami’ narrative. Watch simply for the fact that the film has quickly become known as “the first Scandinavian disaster movie”. May 11, 11am
Sing Street (Ireland)
For some respite, there’s coming-of-age musical comedy Sing Street, a sweet inside look at Dublin teen life in the 1980s. Ex-private schoolboy Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) moves to a public school in Synge Street, and while trying to keep bullies at bay, forms a band to attract the gritty, manic pixie dream girl-type Raphina (Bohemian Rhapsody’s Lucy Boynton). What transpires is a genuinely warm rom-com that hits all the right notes. May 11, 7pm
This Bulgarian drama should prove a timely watch, given all the talk around the ongoing Korean idol spyware scandal. Writer and advertising maven Emil’s slightly dubious hobby grows into an obsession—of spying on his family, friends and employees via hidden cameras. But knowledge isn’t always power; as the burden of all the truths he witnesses weighs down on him, Emil increasingly spirals out of control. May 12, 1:30pm
The Little Comrade (Estonia)
Get your dose of beautiful, characteristically European cinematography here. Bag of awards in tow, this historical drama pivots around the life of six-year-old Leelo during the Stalinist tyranny of the 1950s. After her mother is arrested and sent to a prison camp, young Leelo vows to be on her best behaviour in the hopes that it will bring her back. The true story was adapted from two autobiographical novels by beloved Estonian author Leelo Tungal. May 12, 4pm
Le Ciel Flamand / Flemish Heaven (Belgium)
The reign of compelling young female actresses continues. In this drama by Peter Monsaert, Monique and her daughter Sylvie run a brothel on the border of West Flanders and France—along with Sylvie’s six-year-old daughter Eline. Never privy to the goings-on inside her mother’s mysterious workplace, Eline has her life turned upside down when a dramatic event occurs. May 13, 7pm
A Fortunate Man (Denmark)
Academy Award-winning auteur Billie August presents A Fortunate Man, a deeply personal historical drama about the fictional Per Sidenius—the title character of coming-of-age novel Lykke Per, itself an esteemed part of the Danish Culture Canon. Per is an ambitious and gifted engineer who wants to achieve great things, but must first overcome his deeply religious family and roots before he can do so. May 15, 7pm
Homo Novus (Latvia)
A spirited love letter to Riga in the 1930s, Homo Novus follows the dashing but poor Juris Upenajs on his exciting first foray into the country’s artistic circles. Think parties, painters and beautiful people—in a Gatsby-esque cinematic universe that will have you lusting after the wardrobe design for days after. The romance-comedy holds the title of being the most watched Latvian movie in 2018. May 18, 4pm
The Art of Loving (Poland)
In the 1970s, gynaecologist Michalina Wistocka caught public attention and flak alike for her book The Art of Loving, a frank guide to sex and sexuality. It was an uphill battle fighting censors and misogyny in communist Poland, but she eventually published her ground-breaking book—and sold over 7 million copies in the ‘70s alone. Today, see Wistocka’s story realised onscreen in this powerful biographical drama by Maria Sadowska. May 18, 6:45pm
De Wilde Stad / The Wild City (The Netherlands)
The greenery in Amsterdam extends far beyond just marijuana. Director Mark Verkerk paints a stunning, lesser-seen picture of the Dutch capital in this documentary, bringing to light the many wild animals and plants that inhabit the city. Soak it all in through the eyes and nimble movements of one adventurous urban cat, Abatutu. May 19, 4pm
Tickets are $12 a film, and every ticket festival ticket includes one complimentary admission ticket to all the exhibitions in the museum.
European Union Film Festival 2019 runs from May 10-19 at the Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium, National Gallery Singapore. More information available here.