Days of European Film hits a quarter century

The festival will screen 49 films in seven categories from across Europe

The 25th Days of European Film festival will take place April 5–12 in Prague at Lucerna, Světozor and Kino Pilotů, and April 6–8 at Scala cinemain Brno.

The festival began before the Czech Republic joined the European Union as a way of introducing the culture of EU countries to the then-coming members. It has continued now for a quarter century, with a focus on European cinema and co-productions. Most films are English friendly.

This year, the festival will screen 49 films. A theme this year is literature and music. The opening film is Silent Night, the debut of the young Polish director Piotr Domalewski about a failed Christmas Eve. The film won 10 awards out of 11 nominations at the Polish Eagle film awards, the local equivalent of the Oscars.

Czech films include Insects (Hmyz), the latest from director Jan Švankmajer. Actor Jiří Lábus will present the screening. The Czech-Slovak co-produced film Filthy (Špína) will be presented to the audience by director Tereza Nvotová. Another Czech co-production is the Danish-Czech film The Man (Muž) directed by Charlotte Sieling.

Actors Alise Polachenko and Mārtiņš Vilsons will be present at the opening and subsequent screening of the Latvian film Grandpa More Dangerous Than Computer.

The program also features big stars in films that won’t be getting major releases, but are still worth seeing. “The amount of stardust in this year’s program is greater than usual. In the riveting intimate drama The Wife by the Swedish director Björn Runge, Glenn Close excels alongside Jonathan Pryce and Christian Slater, and her performance has been described by many critics as one of the best roles in her career,” says Zdeněk Blaha, the festival programmer of DEF.

“The film by Paolo Virzi titled The Leisure Seeker features a delightful acting performance by Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. The young generation of stars shines in the film titled On Chesil Beach where the lead role is played by Saoirse Ronan, or in the biographical movie Mary Shelley starring Elle Fanning, Maisie Williams and Hugh O’Conor. The latter will come to Prague to present this film in person,” Blaha added. O’Conor plays Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the biopic about the Frankenstein author.

The films divided into seven traditional and new sections.

Best of is a selection of the most interesting films created over the last two years. It includes A Ciambra, a social drama reviving the spirit of Italian neorealism. The Austrian drama The Best of All Worlds is a raw story of a drug-addicted mother and her little son.

Paint It Black showcases suspense, horror and fear as well as irony and black humor. The Other Me is about a serial killer who draws inspiration from Pythagoras, the Finnish film Armomurhaaja features a lead character who euthanizes animals as a side job, and the Belgian crime film Killers is based on true events.

Film & Music is a regular theme with documentaries about music stars, biopics as well as looks behind the scenes. The Portuguese film The Nothing Factory shows what happens when machines disappear. The music section will also include the documentary If I Think of Germany at Night about the rise of the German techno music scene, and the comedy Magical Mystery or: The Return of Karl Schmidt, about the beginnings of the electronic music scene.

The documentary La Chana is about Antonia Santiago Amador, one of the best-known flamenco dancers. Nico, 1988 looks at the former Velvet Underground singer’s final days.

€Docs has European documentaries such as the Danish-Finnish-Swedish film Big Time, which follows the work and life of architect Bjarke Ingels.

To the Point – Literature in the Spotlight will present new literary adaptations such as On Chesil Beach, adapted from a book by Ian McEwan and original stories about writers such as Mary Shelley or a distinctive film about a French provocateur called The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq. The latter film will be screened for free at European House at Jungmannova 24. The author plays himself in the story of his own kidnapping, which has never been fully explained.

A section dedicated to the LUX film prize of the European Parliament will present the winner and other finalists of the year 2017. The award for the Best Film was received by 120 BPM, about life with AIDS in the early 1990s. The finalist films Sami Blood and Western will also be screened. Only Western will have English subtitles in this section.

The MEDIA section will present films that received the European Film Award for the Best Film. These films will include the new film The Square and previous winner Melancholia. Not all of the films in this section are English friendly.

Side events include a flamenco night, German techno music, the recorded concert film performed by Nick Cave, cinema cuisine screenings, film workshops for children and seniors, and an exhibition of posters.

The special Film Flavor section will combine the screening of a film and a culinary experience. At the Mono Fono club in Prague, people will be offered a three-course menu by chef Filip Strnad. The films are the Italian comedy Perfect Strangers and the French comedy Rock ’N’ Roll. Neither is English-friendly.

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