We are pleased to present our seventh annual New Films from Europe Festival, featuring new works from the continent. European cinema remains one of the creative powerhouses animating the international film festival circuit, with European directors consistently offering innovative works that challenge prevailing notions of national identity and push the boundaries of formal convention. Past incarnations of this festival have featured prominent works from established film industries in Western Europe as well as exciting new productions from Hungary and Romania. The New Films from Europe Festival has provided Boston audiences with premiere screenings from acclaimed filmmakers such as Ken Loach, Danny Boyle, Philippe Garrel, Alain Tanner and Gaspar Noé. This year’s program will include recently released features direct from the festival circuit as well as a collection of experimental films and videos made by veteran and emerging members of the European Avant-Garde.
The festival would not be possible without the continued support of Boston-area consulates and international cultural societies such as French Cultural Services, the Goethe Insitut Boston, and the Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and East-Central Europe.
January 19 (Friday) 7 pm
Directed by Manoel de Oliveira
Portugal/France 2006, 35mm, color, 68 min.
With Michel Piccoli, Bulle Ogier, Ricardo Trepa
French with English subtitles
In this homage to Luís Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière, Manoel de Oliveria reunites the leading characters from the 1967 classic Belle de jour. Picking up thirty-eight years from where Buñuel’s erotic masterpiece left off, Michel Piccoli returns as Henri Husson - older and wiser, but still every bit the sadist libertine who in the original both lusted after and callously taunted Catherine Deneuve's “Belle” to the very end. “An elegant bagatelle, hardly more than an anecdote, Belle Toujours evokes a vanishing world where elegance cohabits with perversity… Alongside ravishing orchestral excerpts from Dvorak’s 8th Symphony and god’s-eye shots of Paris by day and night, Oliveira applies his mannered deadpan style to this tantalizing cinematic grace note" (Robert Keser).
Directed by Árni Ásgeirsson
Iceland/Denmark/Germany 2006, 35mm, color, 90 min.
With Hilmar Jonsson, Margaret Vilhjalmsdottir, Laufey Eliasdottir Icelandic with English subtitles
Pétur (Jonsson) is an optometrist, happily married to Asta (Vilhjalmsdottir) and eagerly awaiting the birth of their second child. After their son falls faint at a soccer game, a blood test reveals that Pétur is not his biological father. This shocking news pushes the couple apart and gives Pétur the opportunity to explore a less conventional lifestyle with his much younger receptionist. This simply-orchestrated melodrama from first-time feature director Árni Ásgeirsson contemplates the messiness of domestic life with a refreshing, restrained style. Print courtesy of Iceland Film Centre.
January 21 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Rose Lowder
France 2006, 16mm, color, silent, 8 min.
In the eight days before two cows drank the eponymous habitat, Lowder focused her camera on a little pond and the creatures who live in it. Recording frogs as they scratch their eyes, jump around, and provoke the in-the-camera-editing, Habitat attempts to render visible and enter into the temporal dimension of an unknowable world.
Directed by Hannes Schüpbach
Switzerland 2005, 16mm, color, silent, 28 min.
In the form of folds: separate areas of a piece of fabric come together at new points of contact and angles. Individual sections come to the fore while others remain hidden. In motion, the surface of a cloth gleams like the delicate impression of light in film. The French experience includes forms of discovered, singled out or artificially employed nature. And parallel to this, the search for the natural in art. Leaves and flowers appear as if drawn. One’s own hand becomes an object, a figure. How are the leaves arranged on a tree? It is a culture of the aesthetic, of that which refers to perception in its most direct sense. – H.S.
Directed by Emily Richardson
UK 2005, 16mm, color, 12 min.
Block examines the life of a 1960s tower block in South London. “Eschewing ‘documentary’ interviews with residents for a night-and-day time-lapse tableau of the building's formidable architecture, it is a powerfully modulated and intensely rhythmic piece” (Matthew Tempest).
Directed by Nicky Hamlyn
UK 2005, 16mm, color, silent, 17 min.
Object Studies is organised around a colour scheme based loosely on the hues of the colour temperature scale: brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, white. Time-lapse, interlaced, single-frame sequences and lap-dissolves were deployed to explore density, translucency and the interactions of different kinds of cast-shadows.
Directed by Gulya Nemes
Hungary 2005, 35mm, b &w, 13m
Three years of the Kopaszi dam under a demolition order. The sunlight spindle camera, the scratches and flashes of the expired raw material and the cut in the camera breathe together with nature and the people living there. The film’s sound material is an orchestra’s rehearsal in which a brass band is trying to play the Egmont overture.
January 22 (Monday) 7 pm
January 23 (Tuesday) 9 pm
Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
Romania 2006, 35mm, color, 89 min.
With Mircea Andreescu, Teodor Corban, Ion Sapdaru
Romanian with English subtitles
At 12:08 on December 22, 1989, the announcement of Ceausescu's deposition was made on Romanian national television ending years of communist rule. Sixteen years later, in an unnamed small town “somewhere east of Bucharest”, a producer at the impoverished local television channel organizes a talk show to commemorate the event in which locals discuss how they contributed to the revolution. The guests include Manescu, an alcoholic school-teacher and Piscoci, a lonely old-timer who jumps at the chance to join in, but mainly because he'd like some company. What follows, in this Cannes Camera d'Or-winning gem, is an absurdly comic farce in the best Eastern European tradition. Program notes adapted from the London International Film Festival. Print courtesy of Vitagraph Films.
January 22 (Monday) 8:45 pm
January 24 (Wednesday) 8:30 pm
Directed by Soeren Senn
Switzerland 2005, 35mm, color, 95 min.
With Carina Wiese, Axel Schrick, Saida Jawad
English and German, French and Russian with English subtitles
Katja is a research scientist who discovers Saida, an illegal alien from Algeria hiding in her office laboratory. Despite the language barrier between the women, Katja invites the refugee to stay at her home along with her live-in lover Hendrik. When Katja proposes that Hendrik marry Saida to avoid deportation the couple’s humanitarian ideals are irrevocably challenged. This debut feature from Soeren Senn was awarded the Best Feature/Diploma Film prize at the 2005 Babelsberg Media Awards and the 2006 Maverick Spirit Award at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose.
January 23 (Tuesday) 7 pm
Directed by Albert Serra
Spain 2006, 35mm, color, 95 min.
With Lluís Carbó, Lluís Serrat, Jaume Badia
Catalan with English subtitles
Don Quixote and his page Sancho Panza wander aimlessly day and night in search of new and amazing adventures. As they ride through fields and foreign lands they talk to each other about everything from spirituality to chivalry, even about the simple things of daily life. Day after day the two strengthen the ties of friendship that bind them ever closer. Program notes courtesy of Torino Film Festival. Print courtesy of Notro Films.
“Normally, young directors follow a stereotype: they make films in urban environments with up-to-date stories and young people’s themes. I wanted to go against all this and vindicate the tradition of classical films. I decided to shoot in digital, which is usually associated with urban, modern films that are loaded with special effects. Instead, my film is contemplative, atmospheric, with lots of landscapes. We shot the entire film outdoors in natural locations, there are no internal scenes, no sets, nothing constructed by man. The actors aren’t professionals, in the grand tradition of Bresson, Pasolini and Olmi.” (A. Serra)
January 24 (Wednesday) 7 pm
January 25 (Thursday) 8:45 pm
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Finland/Germany/France 2006, 35mm, color, 78 min.
With Janne Hyytiainen, Ilkka Koivula, Maria Jarvenhelmi
Finnish and Russian with English subtitles
The predictably rewarding final installment of Aki Kaurismäki's trilogy about outcasts follows its predecessors' themes of unemployment and homelessness with that of loneliness. Things begin to look up for shy nightwatchman Koistinen (Hyytiäinen) when he meets Mirja (Järvenhelmi), who seems to respond sympathetically to Koistinen's slightly old-fashioned manner. Kaurismäki's delightfully delicate cautionary fable charts his unassuming hero's descent into an unforeseen nightmare of deceit and violence with a characteristically low-key blend of humane compassion and deadpan mordant humour. A poignant reminder of the lot of the emotional 'have-nots' in our world, this dark jewel of a film glows with genuine warmth and a small but enriching glimmer of hope. Program notes adapted from London International Film Festival. Print courtesy of Strand Releasing.
January 25 (Thursday) 7 pm
Directed by Gerard Holthuis
The Netherlands 2005, 35mm, b&w, 4 min
Holthuis’s Careless Reef is a four part work about the world under the surface. Preface is an introduction, a film about seeing that asks what we see in a face, and how we decode what we see.
Directed by Rose Lowder
France 2005, 16mm, color, silent, 14 min.
Begin in 1994, Bouquets is a series of what Lowder calls “ecological” films. Editing in-camera and filming frame by frame, Lowder picks and gathers graphic elements, weaving images of flowers, gardens, and people into a rich and exquisitely intricate bouquet.
Directed by John Smith
Germany 2004, video, color, 12 min.
In Hotel Diaries, Smith investigates European hotel rooms he is visiting in a series of late night recordings. With his unique combination of understated humor and sharp observation, Smith elegantly relates personal experiences to contemporary world events. While the Iraq war continues, a day’s sightseeing and features of a German hotel provoke Museum Piece’s stream of thoughts about events large and small.
Directed by Yann Beauvais
France 2006, video, color, 5 min.
In this ongoing untitled series, Beauvais visits Beijing in early December and discovers an army has taken over Tiananmen square, beating, scratching, and breaking up the snow and ice that remain after a snow storm. The task is difficult, the cacophony great. The work is not overwhelmingly effective but by sheer numbers and perseverance the ice is removed. We are drawn not so much to the efficiency of the gestures but the domestication of the bodies which oppress, evoking other more chilling memories.
Directed by Olivo Barbieri
Italy 2004, video, color, 12 min.
Hovering in a helicopter above contemporary Shanghai, Barbieri
marvels at the soaring skyscrapers of an emerging megacity, giving vision to the “story of the most rapid, sweeping, and drastic changes to the urban fabric and architecture of a single country seen in the history of humanity.”
Directed by Gerard Holthuis
The Netherlands 2005, 35mm, color, 7 min
Abu Kifan is the name of a reef near Safaga in Egypt. Part 2 of Careless Reef slows down time to offer us a closer look at a mysterious sub-aquatic oceanscape.
Directed by Yann Beauvais
France 2006, video, color, 6 min.
Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo. Men working on a blind wall of a building, between sky and ground.
Directed by John Smith
UK 2005, video, color, 6 min.
The perception of an Anglo-American hotel room is coloured by new revelations about the “War on Terror” and the “special relationship” that exists between Britian and the USA.
Directed by Olivo Barbieri
Canada/Italy 2005, 35mm, color, 12 min.
In this installment of Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri’s aerial studies of major cities, a tilt-shift lens engenders selective and surreally sharp focus. The already uncanny world of Las Vegas is transformed into a spectacularly miniature toyscape, creating what Barbieri describes as “the city as an avatar of itself.”
Directed by Gerard Holthuis
The Netherlands 2004, 35mm, color, 12 min.
In this visual exploration of the underwater world of the Red Sea, Holthuis bombards our senses. Egyptian performer Abdel Basset Hamouda’s rapturous music and Holthuis’s exuberant cutting charge the vibrant imagery—a mesmerizing and exhilarating experience.
January 26 (Friday) 7 pm
January 27 (Saturday) 9:15 pm
Directed by Emmanuel Mouret
France 2006, 35mm, color, 85 min.
With Emmanuel Mouret, Frédérique Bel, Fanny Valette
French with English subtitles
French-horn player David (Mouret) arrives in Paris looking for work with an orchestra, and a place to live. After meeting ditzy blonde Anne (Bel) in the street, he's soon sharing her flat - and, occasionally, her bed, despite her professed attraction to another guy. But then he begins giving music lessons to Julia (Valette), the beautiful, taciturn daughter of a rich woman, and before long he's smitten. For a while, David is happy, Anne is happy, and Julia (as much as she gives anything away) seems happy. Then along comes Julien (Dany Brillant), a smooth-talking restauranteur... With the writer-director himself playing the hapless David, this comedy consistently surprises: from its rapid-fire comic timing to the charmingly surreal string of sexual and romantic frustrations it describes. “Eric Rohmer meets Woody Allen in a comedy of emotional manners that's Parisian to its fingertips” (Variety). Program notes adapted from the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Print courtesy of Pyramide International.
January 26 (Friday) 8:45 pm
January 28 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Valeska Griesbach
Germany 2006, 35mm, color, 88 min.
With Andreas Mueller, Ilka Welz, Anett Dornbusch
German with English subtitles
The most unique German film to debut at last year’s Berlin festival, Valeska Grisebach’s Longing paradoxically uses documentary-like realism to generate the otherworldly feeling that accompanies the telling of a parable or fairy-tale. Markus (Müller) is a metal worker and volunteer fireman living in a small town outside Berlin. Happily
married to Ella (Welz), he is a seemingly contented man of few words. Called away from home for a weekend training session with his firefighting mates, he drinks too much and wakes up in the bed of waitress Rose (Dornbusch) unsure of what actually happened. In short order, Markus is in love with both his wife and Rose, and Grisebach’s finely wrought script and direction sketch out the inevitable outcome. With three wonderful performances delivered by non-professional actors and one of the most inventive codas in recent memory, Longing is a more than worthy addition to the growing list of surprising, heartfelt and artful new films from Germany. Program notes adapted from the Vancouver International Film Festival. Print courtesy of Hollywood Classics.
January 27 (Saturday) 6:30 pm
January 28 (Sunday) 8:45 pm
Directed by Pedro Costa
Portugal/France/Sweden 2006, 35mm, color, 155 min.
With Ventura, Vanda Duarte, Beatriz Duarte
Portuguese with English subtitles
Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa revisits the slums of Lisbon for this cascading narrative that follows Ventura, a Cape Verdean laborer, as he moves from his home in the dilapidated quarter to a stark new low-cost housing complex. Ventura’s story expands to those around him, the various lost souls he befriends during the move who willingly unload their burdens onto him. Pared down from 320 hours of raw footage to a 2.5-hour feature, Colossal Youth was one of the most debated films at Cannes this year, where it competed for the Golden Palm Award. Program notes courtesy of Walker Art Center. Print courtesy of Memento Films International.
“It is quite unlike anything that you or I have ever seen before.” — LA Weekly
January 29 (Monday) 7 pm
January 31 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm
Directed by Jan Hrebejk
Czech Republic 2006, 35mm, color, 110 min.
With Anna Geislerová, Roman Luknár, Jana Brejchová
Czech with English subtitles
Robert Graves’ poem “Beauty in Trouble” inspired director Jan Hrebejk and writer Petr Jarchosky to tell the romantic tale of an ordinary young woman Marcela (Geislerová) torn between two men. Her undeserving but beloved husband Jarda (Luknar) runs a chop shop where he transforms stolen cars into desirable vehicles. Marcela loses patience with her family’s financial woes and takes her children to her mother's home where they are subjected to the terror of a mean-spirited stepfather. At a low ebb, she meets Evzen (Josf Abrham), an elegant retiree who owns property in Tuscany as well as a villa in the Czech Republic and provides Marcela with a potential way out of her dreary life. With twists, turns and humor, Beauty in Trouble is an intricate genre piece with an unexpected paradoxical ending. Program notes adapted from the Starz Denver International Film Festival. Print courtesy of Menemsha Films.
January 29 (Monday) 9 pm
January 30 (Tuesday) 8:45 pm
Directed by Emily Atef
Germany 2005, video, color, 84 min.
With Mairead McKinley, Ute Gerlach, Geno Lechner
English and Polish with English subtitles
Though she only knows his first name and that he "works in coal," Molly, a young Irish woman, travels to a small Polish town to find the man with whom she'd had a memorable one-night stand several months before. Armed with nothing more than a postcard and her own tenacity, she sets about finding her past lover, despite her landlord's admonishments that it is a lost cause. Anchored by Mairead McKinley's sensitive performance as Molly, first-time writer/director Emily Atef's perceptive drama received honors for its screenplay at the 2005 Munich Film Festival.
January 31 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Andrea Arnold
UK/Denmark 2006, 35mm, color, 113 min.
With Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston
Jackie (Dickie) keeps watch over a bank of monitors at a private security company providing surveillance for a rundown Glasgow housing complex. Her daily routines, like her job, are those of an observer — there's a sense she's merely going through the motions, until one day she is shocked to catch on camera a glimpse of Clyde (Curran), a man who has played a part in shaping her loneliness. His return, and her relentless interest in him, reveals a story of loss, revenge and redemption. Director Andrea Arnold has an acute eye and ear for detail, ensuring that there is humor to punctuate the film's dark sensuality and sense of foreboding. One of the most striking British feature debuts in years, Red Road is an assured, multi-layered slice of poetic realism and was recently celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival with its Jury Prize. Program notes adapted from the London International Film Festival. Print courtesy of Vitagraph Films.