The 9th European Film Festival in South Africa will take place between 13 and 23 October, 2022. This year’s lineup under the banner of Innocence & Beyond comprises sixteen critically-acclaimed and award-winning films from across Europe. Catering to audiences who prefer to watch from home and those longing to return to cinemas, the film festival will retain its hybrid format and include neighbouring countries eSwatini and Lesotho.
In keeping with previous years, live video conference panel discussions and Q&As with film directors will take place digitally with filmmaker engagements at local film schools as well as community centres and secondary schools. Online screenings at free with a ticket price for theatre screenings at both Ster-Kinekor’s The Zone in Johannesburg and at The Labia Theatre in Cape Town.
Here’s the 2022 European Film Festival lineup with a synopsis, write up and trailers:
Petite Maman (France)
Writer-Director: Céline Sciamma
Stars: Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz and Nina Meurisse
Memory, friendship and family are masterfully explored in the intimately emotional drama, Petite Maman. Having lost her grandmother, Nelly is helping her parents at her mother’s childhood home. In the nearby woods, she meets a girl building a treehouse. A tender film, Sciamma creates a compelling tale that examines nuances of the mother-daughter relationship.
Writer-Director: Laura Wandel
Stars: Maya Vanderbeque, Günter Duret and Lena Girard Voss
Playground is a vivid film experience, which cleverly deploys cameras at a child level to offer a sensitive and fresh perspective on bullying at an elementary school. Taken from a child’s point-of-view, the honest and hard-hitting drama finds Abel being bullied by other kids and Nora there trying to keep the peace and find her place.
Do Not Hesitate (Netherlands)
Director: Shariff Korver
Stars: Joes Brauers, Spencer Bogaert and Tobias Kersloot
Do Not Hesitate is a slow-burning psychological thriller about three naïve Dutch youths who find themselves out of their depth and in a state of culture shock. When their leader suddenly disappears, three young soldiers are left to guard a military vehicle on their own. Thrown into the deep end, the challenging situation and desert heat begin to take their toll as a local boy’s arrival on the scene complicates matters and escalates out of control.
Co-writer/Director: Elie Grappe
Stars: Anastasiia Budiashkina, Sabrina Rubtsova and Caterina Barloggio
Olga is an engrossing, tense and timely sports drama, compelled by documentary-style naturalism. Focused on an exiled 15-year-old Ukrainian gymnast, who finds herself at a Swiss National Sports Centre, tensions mount and anxiety sets in as the Euromaiden revolt breaks out in her home country. Dealing with themes around identity, family and politics, this sensitively-handled character portrait bristles – a sharp feature debut.
Small Body (Italy)
Co-writer/Director: Laura Samani
Stars: Celeste Cescutti, Ondina Quadri
Small Body is a gripping and visceral female-led adventure drama, a fairytale with a mythological undercurrent that unfurls against a fully realised world. Set in 1900 Italy, a young woman named Agata embarks on an arduous quest to reach a sanctuary in order to save her daughter’s soul from eternal damnation.
The Worst Person in the World (Norway/co-production)
Co-writer/Director: Joachim Trier
Stars: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie and Herbert Nordrum
Nominated for two Oscars, The Worst Person in the World is a wistful, energetic and hilarious romantic comedy, elevated by moments of pure ecstasy and horror. This poignant Norwegian/ French/ Danish/ Swedish co-production concludes Trier’s Oslo Trilogy in its chronicle of four years in the life of Julie. A young woman navigating her love life, career, identity and mortality, this delightful romantic comedy upends the genre’s well-worn tropes.
As Far As I Can Walk (Serbia/co-production)
Director: Stefan Arsenijević
Stars: Ibrahim Koma, Nancy Mensah-Offei and Maxim Khalil
The urgent, timely and touching coming-of-age drama As Far As I Can Walk grapples with issues surrounding race, identity, tradition and love. Based on a medieval Serbian poem, the captivating film journeys with a 22-year-old Ghanaian refugee living in Serbia whose challenge to find a new way of life goes much further than board and lodging. As he tries to start over in Serbia as a Red Cross volunteer, a jobseeker and part of a football team… it’s love that presents the biggest challenge as he tries to win back the love of his life.
Silent Land (Poland)
Co-writer/Director: Aga Woszczyńska
Stars: Dobromir Dymecki, Agnieszka Zulewska and Jean-Marc Barr
Silent Land is a beautifully crafted and potent drama about a seemingly perfect couple who rent a holiday home on an idyllic Mediterranean island. After their high expectations are subverted by the reality of their vacation’s water shortage, a serviceman’s cloying presence and invasive actions start an unfortunate chain of events. Centred on a relationship’s downward spiral, this drama echoes the indifference, lethargy and sentiment of the modern world.
The Emigrants (Sweden)
Director: Erik Poppe
Stars: Gustaf Skarsgård, Lisa Carlehed and Tove Lo
Based on the novel by Vilhelm Moberg, The Emigrants is a historical drama set in the 1800s about a poverty-stricken Swedish family who set sail for America in the hopes of a more prosperous life. Told from a woman’s point-of-view, this gritty, honest and timely tale resonates with stories of migration in the here and now as the journey’s dangers and challenges of starting over in a new land come to bear.
Brighton 4th (Georgia)
Director: Levan Koguashvili
Stars: Levan Tedaishvili, Giorgi Tabidze and Nadezhda Mikhalkova
Brighton 4th is a character-driven comedy drama about a Georgian wrestler who travels to Brooklyn in order to help his son. This insightful tragicomedy speaks to the power and sacrifice of a father’s love, offering an authentic and endearing portrait of the ever-elusive American Dream.
Ali and Ava (United Kingdom)
Writer/Director: Clio Barnard
Stars: Adeel Akhtar, Claire Rushbrook and Macy Shackleton
Ali & Ava is an intimate romance drama about two lost souls from different cultural backgrounds who are drawn together. This tender working class portrait is imbued with depth and warmth, as a couple foster a deeper connection in spite of their past relationships. Using music and humour, this quietly powerful film finds Ali and Ava navigating a nervous, open and innocent foray back into the arms of love.
The Good Boss (Spain)
Director: Fernando León de Aranoa
Stars: Javier Bardem, Manolo Solo and Almudena Amor
The Good Boss is a workplace satire centred around the questionable innocence of a proud factory owner preparing his company for the arrival of an awards committee. Driven by a charismatic Javier Bardem and sharp writing, this wild and hilarious comedy toys with the indignities surrounding work as a boss sets out a humbling quest.
Great Freedom (Austria)
Co-writer/Director: Sebastian Meise
Stars: Franz Rogowski, Georg Friedrich and Anton von Lucke
Great Freedom is a historical drama of bittersweet beauty and great tenderness. Set in post-war Germany, this film chronicles the unlikely bond between a man imprisoned for homosexuality and his cellmate. Exploring themes around love, time and persistence, this is a smart and sensitively directed drama.
The Metamorphosis of Birds (Portugal)
Director: Catarina Vasconcelos
Stars: Manuel Rosa, João Móra and Ana Vasconcelos
The Metamorphosis of Birds is a beautiful, contemplative and poetic drama that operates on a deeply personal level with a universal ripple effect. This alluring and unorthodox film follows Catarina and her father who find solace in an emotional place where she’s able to sift through the memories and dreams of her ancestors, following the passing of their mothers.
I’m Your Man (Germany)
Co-writer/Director: Maria Schrader
Stars: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens and Sandra Hüller
I’m Your Man is a delicate, delightful and entertaining sci-fi romance dramedy centred on a scientist’s participation in an experiment in order to obtain research funds. Based on the short story by Emma Braslavsky, this thought-provoking high concept “romcom” explores artificial intelligence and humanoid robot innocence as a well-matched co-leads Maren Eggert and Dan Stevens find the fun in this amusing and spunky film.
Writer:Director: Maryna Er Gorbach
Stars: Oksana Cherkashyna, Sergey Shadrin and Oleg Shcherbina
Klondike finds levity in trauma, a war drama that’s as comic as it is searing in exposing the absurdity of war and serving as a reminder that the mundanities of life go on even in the darkest days. This timely film follows a Ukrainian parents-to-be living near the Russian border and explores the war’s toll on ordinary folk as things progressively get worse when armed forces capture a nearby town.
You can find out more information about these award-winning films at the European Film Festival website.