European Film Festival to Bring More Real Life and Love to the Screens

By Lwin Mar Htun 17 September 2018

YANGON—Myanmar’s oldest international film event, the European Film Festival will be held for the 27th year on September 21 to 30 at Yangon’s oldie-but-goodie Nay Pyi Taw Cinema and the newly-renovated Goethe Institute.

The festival is organized by the European Union in Myanmar in collaboration with Goethe Institute Myanmar for all film lovers in Yangon and it aims to promote cultural exchange between Myanmar and Europe while showcasing the diversity of European films.

The festival will showcase a total of seventeen contemporary films, each from a different country, including three non-member countries of the European Union, Norway, Switzerland and Israel.

Kristian Schmidt, Ambassador of the European Union to Myanmar, said “European films have their own, special nature and they are often ironic, unexpected, and seldom heroic. That is what makes their stories so interesting and the films relevant to everyone.”

He added, “The film festival will screen 17 different cultures from a total 17 countries with their own languages. We hope that the audiences will get in touch with our cultural differences, we all have a shared humanity.”

The film festival drew more than 10,000 visitors last year and the team hopes to see even more attendees this year.

“In 1990, the Myanmar Motion Picture Organization was making transformations and changes. I was one of the team members and we made a policy to collaborate with international film organizations and make more movements and learn techniques so we were able to bring the European Film Festival to Myanmar from that time until now,” said Daw Swe Zin Htike, one of Myanmar’s award-winning actresses and a member of the official censorship board.

“Films from Hollywood are commercial and they focus on entertaining people but films from Europe are mostly art-house films which show more about peoples’ lives and feelings. Myanmar people are not very familiar with art-house films. That is one of the main reasons for bringing the European Film Festival to Myanmar,” she said.

All the films for the festival have to be submitted to an official censorship board comprised of members of the Ministry of Information and the Myanmar Motion Picture Organization, in order to get permission to be screened at Nay Pyi Taw Cinema.

“We didn’t cut any scenes from the films but in some cases which are not relevant to local people, we covered the subjects,” said Daw Swe Zin Htike.

The films to be screened at the Goethe Institute do not need to be submitted to the censorship board and audiences will be able to see the uncensored versions.

The French film “Django” will be the opening film this year and it will be screened on Friday, September 21 at Nay Pyi Taw Cinema. It is based on the extraordinary life of jazz legend Django Reinhardt.

“Most of the European films are focusing on portraying the emotions of people so audiences might get bored in the first few scenes but it gets more and more exciting later on,” said Franz Xaver Augustin, Director of the Goethe Institute Myanmar.

Another interesting film in the lineup is the Austrian film “Egon Schiele—Death and the Maiden” which is about a famous painter Egon Schiele who challenged social conventions with his art and lifestyle.

The Golden Globe Award-winning German film ‘In the Fade’ is also the must-watch one. Between 2000 and 2007 nine migrants were murdered in different Germany cities, most of them of Turkish descent. ‘In the Fade’ is not specifically based on one of these murders but has its own plot in Hamburg.

Another interesting film with an LGBT-theme is ‘Boys,’ from the Netherlands. The film shows the struggle teenagers have with their feelings, identity confusion and acceptance and is also a beautiful love story of two boys.

The festival will also showcase the documentary film about Grammy Award Winning Jazz artist Amy Winehouse who died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts award-winning director Asif Kapadia shows the heart-breaking journey of the young British Artist with extensive unseen footage.

All films are shown in their original language with English subtitles and tickets for the films are free but given on a first-come-first-serve basis at both venues one hour to 15 minutes before the scheduled screening.

For the full screening schedule, check their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/europeanfilmfestival.yangon.