Monday, September 08, 2014

Unforgettable tales on the enduring ties of family take the spotlight in this year’s Cine Europa 17 at the Shangri-La Plaza’s Shang Cineplex, home of the country’s top international film festivals, from September 11 to 21, 2014. Twenty-three films from 17 countries will take cinema lovers to riveting, visceral and emotional journeys in this year’s edition of the premier film festival.

A selection of dramatic greats await moviegoers starting off with Journey to Jerusalem (Bulgaria) which tells the story of two Jewish kids who flew away from Nazi Germany in the early 1940s and are rescued by a group of touring actors in Sofia. In Broken Glass Park (Germany), a young woman is out to avenge the death of her mother in the hands of her stepfather who was just portrayed by the media as a remorseful sinner and reformed man.

German auteur Edgar Reitz’ four-hour Die andere Heimat is an exquisitely-shot black and white film chronicling the life of a young man and his dream of immigrating to South America. A poor but knowledge-hungry son of a blacksmith, the young man is joined in the film by his family, friends, and neighbors and offers a closer look at the societal dynamics in rural Germany.

Loss is the theme of two films, starting with A Second Childhood (Italy) which shows how a couple deals when one of them is discovered to have memory loss. Bon Voyage (The Netherlands), meanwhile, examines the impending sense of loss experienced by a family whose patriarch is diagnosed to be seriously ill.

A different kind of family is at the core of Vegas (Norway), as three friends who find common ground take refuge in their friendship as they go through their respective journeys. In Child’s Pose (Romania), an affluent woman uses her power to keep her son, who is charged with manslaughter, out of prison. A kid’s occasional small-time hustles from a ski resort take a dangerous turn in Sister (Switzerland), when the kid partners with a British crook in an effort to provide for himself and his unreliable older sister.

Sean Ellis’ Metro Manila (United Kingdom) returns to Filipino screens as it features the story of Oscar Ramirez and his family, who leave their impoverished but simple life in the rice field regions north of the Philippines in search of fortune in the cruel streets of the city. The official British entry to the 2014 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, Metro Manila stars Jake Ramirez, John Arcilla, and Althea Vega.

Light-hearted choices also abound in this year’s festival with the likes of Everybody Famous (Belgium), an amusing account of how a father devises a plan so his daughter, who lacks musical talent, can become the next big star. There is also Czech Republic’s Identity Card, which tells of the adventures of four students growing up in communist Czechoslovakia and how their creative and independent souls make them a counterpoint to their country’s totalitarian conventions.

Another coming-of-age piece is Hungary’s Thorn Castle, about the friendship of two boys who bond over the beauty of nature as they learn how to camp, hunt, and live off the land in the countryside. Chinese Puzzle (France) offers a stark contrast as it takes place in New York where a man decides to move after his ex-wife brings their children there, following their divorce. The film, which stars acclaimed French stars Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou, is the third film in director Cédric Klapisch’s Spanish Apartment trilogy.

Audiences will roar with laughter with Scialla! (Italy) when a melancholy professor discovers that the rebellious teenager he’s tutoring is actually his son. The fun continues with The Netherlands’ Mister Twister – Class of Fun, about a young substitute teacher’s unique teaching antics. His style earns him the affection of his students but will a rule-obsessed principal keep him from being the cool one?

The Godmother (Romania) takes off when an American mother and wife, who has a brilliant teaching career in Bucharest, finds herself in the middle of a real gangster story after her husband is found out to be laundering money for a local mobster. The heroine forms her own family mafia to fight off her family’s enemies and gets help from unusual characters along the way. In Ice Dragon (Sweden), an 11-year-old boy sets off on an adventure as he flees his alcoholic father and brother. A lovable tale that includes whales, fishing, friends, and first love, Ice Dragon was a well-received children’s film in its home country.

Also in the line-up is Denmark’s The Hunt, which is a stirring account of how one small lie changed a man’s life. The film was nominated in the 2014 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Meanwhile, Lóve (Slovakia) promises to be a gripping action drama, as it reveals the tale of a man who is keen on shedding his criminal past in order to live a normal life with the woman he loves.

A gathering of Spain’s most stellar male actors, A Gun in Each Hand is a musical film that shows eight confused and perplexed men in their forties who have to deal with identity crisis. Another Spanish film is the delightful animated feature The Missing Lynx, which follows a bunch of animals as they set off to save their fellows from being kidnapped and used in experiments.

Something sweet awaits film buffs in Two-Seater Rocket (Austria), which tells of Manuel’s great efforts to build best friend Mia’s childhood dream to win her heart. The work of the world’s best researchers, oceanographers, and biologists commences with Planet Ocean (Switzerland), which vividly transports viewers to the deepest, most wondrous parts of the Earth, all in a call to respect The Blue Planet in which we live.

This year’s Cine Europa also provides an avenue for educational discussions with a forum on Film Appreciation with producer and educator Alemberg Ang on September 12, 2014 and a forum for Filipino filmmakers with the European Union’s cultural officers from Spain, Italy, and France on September 20, 2014.

There will also be screenings of distinguished Filipino films during the festival with Magnifico and Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros on September 12 and Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan on September 20.

For inquiries, call 370-2500 loc. 597.

Shangri-la Plaza Mall is located at Shaw Blvd. cor. EDSA, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines

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