Days of European Film starts in Prague

The festival showcases the best of recent European cinema

The 24th edition of Days of European Film will bring about 50 films from different parts of Europe. The festival runs in Prague from April 6 to 13 before going to Brno and other cities.

Films in Prague will be at Lucerna, Světozor, Royal, Evropský dům and newly at Kino Pilotů. Royal will have two films with special menus and a jazz concert. There will also be two workshops on animation, for children and adults, and two seminars for professionals. Most but not all of the films are English-friendly.

The festival began while the Czech Republic was preparing to join the EU to showcase the culture of EU states, but has continued with the help of embassies, culture ministries and other institutions.

The festival opens with the Spanish film Smoke & Mirrors by director Alberto Rodríguez. The spy film looks at the largest Spanish corruption scandal of the 1990s. The film received a number of awards, including the Silver Shell at the San Sebastián Film Festival for best actor for Eduard Fernández and the Feroz Zinemaldia Award for best film. At Spain's Goya Awards it won for best adapted screenplay and Carlos Santos won for best new actor. Producer Francisco Javier Ramos Quiñones will personally present the film at the opening.

“This suspenseful political-spy thriller is an addition to the director’s previous work, particularly the thrillers Unit 7 and Marshland, which attracted huge attention from the audience at DEF last year. The story is based on true events and shows a big corruption scandal of the 1990s and the related series of frauds and abductions orchestrated by a single person: Francisco Paesa. His part was absolutely excellently played by Eduard Fernández who is well-known in our country, too,” DEF festival programmer Zdeněk Blaha said.

DEF will present three Czech co-productions. The Chronicles of Melanie by screenwriter and director Viesturs Kairišs, who will be a guest of the festival along with the Czech producer Julietta Sichel, will premiere at the festival.

Ministry of Love will be presented by director Pav Marinković along with actor Slobodan Milovanović and the sound engineers Ludvik Bohadlo and Jan Paul.

Director Iveta Grófová and composer Matěj Hlaváč will present the Czech-Slovak film Little Harbour. It won the Crystal Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, given by a jury composed of children within the Generation Kplus section.

Other films will also have guests. Yallah! Underground, a documentary about an alternative music scene in the Middle East, will be presented by the director Farid Eslam. Italian director Giancarlo Soldi will present his documentary Five Wor(L)ds, about Oscar winners Roberto Benigni, Bernardo Bertolucci, Gabriele Salvatores, Paolo Sorrentino and Guiseppe Tornatore.

Jazz drummer Günter “Baby” Sommer, the star of the music documentary Als Mensch ein Solist, will also make an appearance and will have a concert at Royal Theatre on April 8.

The 50 films in the festival will be divided into sections. Best of has highlights of recent European cinema. The Greek film Chevalier, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, is written by prominent contemporary Greek screenwriter Efthymis Filippou, who wrote The Lobster. Another film in this section is Me and Kaminski, a new film by Good Bye, Lenin! director Wolfgang Becker, and once again starring Daniel Brühl.

Last year’s big winner at Spanish Goya film awards, Truman by director Cesc Gay, is an optimistic film about a friendship between two men. DEF will also present the Czech premiere of Graduation, about compromises, personal morality and the essence of parenthood. Cristian Mungiu received the Best Director award for this film in Cannes in 2016.

To the Point is a traditional section in cooperation with the Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic. It will focus on children and adolescents this year. In his new film Being 17, André Téchiné tells the story of two adolescent boys from a small town in France. The documentary Kinders looks into a music camp where children open up about the problems that trouble them as well as about their plans for the future.

The Media section will examine contemporary European animation. Viewers can look forward not only to older films such as The Illusionist and The Suicide Shop but also to the recent The Red Turtle. Adults may enjoy the animated documentary Crulic – The Path to Beyond and children may like Paddington and Shaun the Sheep Movie.

Docs presents documentaries. Safari, the latest film by Austrian director Ulrich Seidl, is about big game hunting. The documentary Nice People follows the first Somalian national team competing in a Swedish winter sport called bandy.

The Film & Music section is new for this year. It includes Sing Street, a new musical film by John Carney, a comedy about growing up in Dublin in the 1980s. It also has the French co-production As I Open My Eyes by Leyla Bouzid, the story of a female singer in Tunisia.

The finalists of the European Parliament LUX Film Prize, including the winner, the German comedy Toni Erdmann are also scheduled.

The new trend for special meals matched to films will be met by the Film Flavour section, with two events on April 13 and 15 at Royal Theatre in Vinohrady, which will have a pop-up restaurant. The price of Kč 500 per person includes a three-course menu, wine, water and a film. Like Crazy on April 13 is an Italian film about a two women who leave an asylum to have a road trip. The Red Turtle, on April 15, is an animated film with no dialogue.

There is also a free screening of the film Train to Adulthood at Evropský dům on April 10. The train is a metaphor for discussing modern-day Hungary, and offers insights into the young generation who will soon be responsible for the fate of all of us.

Tickets in Prague and Brno are Kč 110, except for the Film Flavours at Royal and the free screening at Evropský dům. There is a discount for seniors. Tickets to all films can be purchased online or via e-mail.

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