European Union Film Festival 2016

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Feb 26-Mar 11

Forget Hollywood’s repetitive stream of remakes and super hero movies and savour something more original at the European Union Film Festival. Ambrose Li selects the best in show

At this time of year, with all the Oscar contenders now in cinemas or already on their way to DVD, the release of quality films tends to dry up. Now in its seventh year, the European Union Film Festival, February 26 till March 11, is here to prevent a full-on drought of worthwhile cinematic offerings. There are 17 films showing, encompassing a range of genres and the many cultures of the EU. Here are our picks for what not to miss…

45 Years
Not your typical film adorned with pretty young leads, sumptuous costumes and high-tech visual effects, this British offering has a subtlety that’s captured the hearts of many. A week before Kate and Geoff Mercer’s 45th wedding anniversary, news about Geoff’s first love, Katya, surfaces for the first time in more than half-a-century. As more and more about Katya is revealed, the dynamic between the couple begins to change. Will their marriage survive? Described as, “Quietly explosive. Represents classic filmmaking at its best. A master class in understated acting,” by the Los Angeles Times, 45 Years has received many awards at various film festivals, most notably its leads winning the best actor and best actress awards at last year’s Berlin Film Festival. Palace IFC, Central, Sat Feb 27, 3.30pm; Broadway Cinematheque, Yau Ma Tei, Mon Feb 29, 9.50pm.

A Place Called Home
A story of love, acceptance, family and homeland, A Place Called Home tells the story of a daughter attempting to rekindle her relationship with her father. A successful professor of cardiology, Eleni lives and works in London. Kyriakos, her father, has never been able to forgive her departure from Greece considering the sacrifices he made as a young man during the Greek Civil War. Deciding to visit home, what Eleni finds is nothing like what she expects. A winner of seven awards including best feature film at the 2014 Cyprus International Film Festival, this film deals with the topic of an estranged homeland that ought to strike a chord with Hongkongers and the identity crisis that continues in our city. Palace IFC, Central, Sat Mar 5, 3.45pm; Broadway Cinematheque, Yau Ma Tei, Tue Mar 8, 9.50pm.   

Son of Saul

Set during the Holocaust, Son of Saul portrays a powerful story set in Auschwitz. Director László Nemes guides audiences through Saul’s journey in this heart-wrenching fragment of his life. A Hungarian-Jewish prisoner, Saul is forced into a work group at the camp and made to burn the corpses of other Jews. During a shift, he comes across the body of a Jewish boy he had been particularly close to and yearns to give him a proper burial, even if it spoils his chance at escape. Striving to present a primitive and raw experience for audiences, Son of Saul has been met with much critical acclaim and was the first Hungarian film to win best foreign language film at the Golden Globes. Broadway Cinematheque, Yau Ma Tei, Sat Feb 27, 9.50pm; Palace IFC, Tue Mar 1, 7.45pm.

Stockholm Stories
Like a Swedish take on Love Actually, Stockholm Stories examines the lives of five young city dwellers yearning for friendship and relationships in their all too busy metropolitan lives. The five interconnected stories depict how a not-so-talented author, a lonely advertising mastermind, a reticent workaholic, a sheepish rich kid and a recently dumped young lady weave in and out of each other’s lives over several rainy days in November. Thrown into the mix are interpersonal misunderstandings and challenges to societal values. Will the five involved eventually find the love and warmth which they crave? Palace IFC, Sun Feb 28, 7.45pm; Broadway Cinematheque, Yau Ma Tei, Wed Mar 2, 9.50pm. 

Youth is the multi award-winner that bagged best film, best director and best actor at the 28th European Film Awards. Featuring two septuagenarian best friends, Fred and Mick, who have contrasting attitudes to life, the comedy-drama explores the meaning of life, reflects on the past and ponders the future. Fred, a former conductor and composer, left his career behind long ago, while film director Mick is still striving to complete his latest screenplay as soon as possible. Prepare for equal doses of fun and thought-provoking moments as the story unfolds in the picturesque surrounds of the Swiss Alps. Palace IFC, Fri Feb 26, 9.50pm; Broadway Cinematheque, Tue Mar 1, 9.50pm.

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