The festival is a partnership between the Delegation of the European Union to South Africa and a number of embassies and cultural institutions, and each year they put together a carefully curated selection of some of the best films coming out of Europe. Its a great way to see films you might have otherwise missed, and get caught up with the work of directors pushing the boundaries of the film industry.
This year the festival's theme is Innocence and Beyond with the films exploring innocence not only in the legal sense but also as a human quality. The 16 films explore different forms that innocence takes and the events and choices we make that cause us to both lose and rediscover it.
The films delve far and wide into the theme – from the loss of innocence seen in the young protaganists of Petité Maman and Playground, the naivete as Javier Bardem navigates working life in The Good Boss to the collapse of a relationship as a result of individual inaction in Polish-director Aga Woszczyńska's Silent Land.
The films The Emmigrants directed by Erik Poppe and Stefan Arsenijević’s As Far as I Can Walk explore the impacts of migration. The Emmigrants is an epic period piece that follows the move of a Swedish family to America in the 1800s. Their story parallels migration in our current era as being a constant balance of hope and struggle. As Far as I Can Walk focuses on the emotional and psychological effects migration has on young people in Europe today and how they battle to overcome these challenges.
Incredibly relavent to the current war in Ukraine are the films Olga and Klondike.
The EU Ambassador to South Africa Sandra Kramer comments; “This year’s European Film Festival has been inspired by innocence as a human quality. The festival’s theme – Innocence & Beyond – tries to capture our loss of innocence on a number of levels as we deal with the present and lay foundations for the future."
She speaks of the films as not only "offering a temporary escape, but also a space for pause and reflection.” We think it's much-needed, and even if you watched all of the films, it would be cheaper than going to therapy.
As part of this year's programme there will be real-time Zoom panel discussions and Q&A’s with film directors to enrich the experience and understanding of the filmmaking processes and motivations, as well as topics raised in the films. There is a also a programme of Filmmaker Engagements formulated to inspire young filmmakers at film schools in South Africa.