Heading in Europe's direction
A festival will showcase diverse cinematic subjects that European arthouse films have addressed
American films in Indian cinema halls are as commonplace these days as, say, a sardar on the streets of Toronto. You don't have to look beyond Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the latest offering, to corroborate that. But it's not the same case with arthouse European movies. There is a whole wealth of cinematic work from the continent that we miss out on in these parts. Sure, a few filter through in sporadic screenings. But otherwise, it's only hardcore film connoisseurs who bother to dig up information online and watch such movies sitting in the comfort of their homes.
The European Union Film Festival (EUFF) is aimed at altering this situation, though. It will culminate in Mumbai this week after having travelled to eight other Indian cities. The packed line-up involves a diverse bouquet of movies from 24 member nations of the EU. None of these are potboilers designed for mass appeal. Instead, they encourage discerning viewers to put their thinking caps on and surrender to the flood of human emotions.
A still from the Bulgarian film, King of the Belgians
Take Backstage, the opening film. It deals with a group of talented young dancers from a small Slovak town who are hungry for fame. But then cracks develop in their hunky-dory relationship after they are selected for a TV reality show, before their shared passion for dancing ensures that the fissures eventually fizzle out. The story involves themes of love, jealousy, anger and happiness, and all these feelings are uniformly explored across the rest of the line-up.
Raimund Magis, chargé d'affaires, Delegation of the European Union to India, who's organised the festival, tells us, "Some of the films we have chosen make you laugh, while others make you think a lot — this is cinema that doesn't leave you indifferent. It's cinema that moves your heart."
Magis also says that according to him, the cultural gap between India and European countries is now narrower than ever before. Thousands of people from the country travel to places like Germany, The Netherlands and France to study every year. Millions of others visit as tourists. Even the fact that numerous Bollywood films have been filmed in that continent has brought it closer to people here. And now, EUFF is a step forward in the same direction. At its core, the festival is aimed at giving Indians a window into the cultural framework that governs European films. So, instead of catching the next American blockbuster on a screen near you, spend time instead taking in the narrative in films from less-exposed locations like, say, Lithuania or Cyprus.
ON September 20 to 26, 12 pm onwards
AT National Museum of Indian Cinema, Pedder Road, Cumballa Hill.
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