25 September, 2010
The right notes
Official Selection, European Film Awards 2010
Comedies make you laugh, and tragi-comedies do too, but how to describe Radu Mihaileanu’s latest film Le concert (2009)?
Its Russian settings, with hilarious takes on all the cliches we’ve come to expect of post-Cold War Russia – thuggish, gun-toting Mafia lords and their cash approach to culture, aging Communists longing for the good old Soviet days, Everyman (and Everywoman) scrounging to raise a ruble in the crudely capitalistic present – will make you laugh until you cry. The frenzied action never lets up – it might even strike some as a bit over the top, like a Kusturica film – even when the troupe is unleashed on a sedate and unsuspecting Paris.
But the tears you’ll shed during the climactic concert – a faux Bolshoi orchestra attempting to recreate a Brezhnev-era musical moment that was cruelly cut short – will be tears of joy. A neighbour of ours, a hardy outdoorsman who had never before displayed his sentimental side, said that he was not immune to the emotion of Le concert, and I can understand. Music does that to you, especially a stirring Tchaikovsky concerto played with such virtuosity.
Don’t get me wrong – despite its title and its story premise, this is not a musical, or even a musical comedy. There’s that difficulty again in classifying Le concert. Let’s just say that if you like a good story, a good laugh (despite the tears), and music from visa-fixing Gypsy fiddlers to the Red Army Chorus’ ever-rousing Kalinka, you’ll enjoy Le concert. But there’s a serious side to the story, which is what attracted France-based Mihaileanu to it.
Mihaileanu, the son of a Romanian Communist who had to change his name from Buchman to escape Nazi extermination camps, has dealt with Jewish themes before. His award-winning 2005 film Live and Become (Va, vis et deviens), dealt with the difficult integration into Israeli society of the Ethiopian Falasha Jews. He has based Le concert on an amalgam of historical incidents, based on the record of Antisemitism in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union.
With all the recent hoopla over 1989 and the Gorbachev perestroika and glasnost that helped to bring about the fall of the Soviet Union, it is worth remembering the darker days that preceded Mr. Gorbachev. Brezhnev appeared to be a throwback to the days of Stalin and his henchmen, especially as regards Soviet Jews. Writes Professor Christie Davies in The Social Affairs Unit blog:
Official anti-Semitism was also popular. It gave the most menial of workers someone to hate, someone to blame, someone to despise. Your vilest traditional prejudices were endorsed and encouraged by your rulers. Newspapers deliberately stressed the Jewish identity of Jews executed for economic crimes…
Without miring us in historical detail, Mihaileanu focuses instead on the memory of Lea, the violin soloist whose ouster from the Bolshoi has left a lasting mark on all who knew her. The director’s choice of French actress Mélanie Laurent uncannily parallels the fictional 'faux Bolshoi' conductor’s selection of a French soloist to replace – or is it replicate? – Lea. Actress Laurent speaks of her own Jewish roots: her grandfather, like Mihaileanu’s own father, was also a Communist who resisted Nazi persecution.
So there it is: a feel-good movie that isn’t lightweight; a comedy with a serious side; a film where music’s role is central but does not require a degree in Tchaikovsky studies…Le concert is a touching film, a fitting addition to Mihaileanu’s growing body of respected work.
Awards: Click here for details.
119 mins. In French and Russian.
21 September, 2010
The European Film Academy proudly announces the three nominations in the category European Film Academy Animated Feature 2010.
The jury consisting of EFA Board Members Per Holst (producer, Denmark) and Antonio Saura (producer, Spain) as well as representatives of CARTOON, the European Association of Animation Film, Mark Baker (animation director, UK), Giuseppe Lagana (animation director, Italy) and Serge Siritzky (managing editor Ecran Total, France) decided to nominate the following films:
PLANET 51 (Spain, UK)
Directed by: Jorge Blanco
Co-directed by: Javier Abad and Marcos Martínez
SAMMY'S ADVENTURES: THE SECRET PASSAGE (Belgium)
Directed by: Ben Stassen
THE ILLUSIONIST (UK, France)
Directed by: Sylvain Chomet
The nominated films will now be submitted to the 2,300 EFA Members to elect the winner who will be honoured at the European Film Awards Ceremony on Saturday, 4 December, in Tallinn, Estonia.
16 September, 2010
At the 23rd European Film Awards this year, the European Film Academy (EFA) will honour Swiss actor Bruno Ganz - whether as an angel in Wings of Desire (1987) by Wim Wenders, in the Italian comedy Bread & Tulips (2000) by Silvio Soldini, or playing Adolf Hitler in Oliver Hirschbiegel's The Downfall (2004), Bruno Ganz has lent his face to some of cinema's most unforgettable moments.
Together with actress Iris Berben, Ganz was elected President of the German Film Academy in 2010.
The European Film Academy takes great pleasure in presenting Bruno Ganz with the European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding and dedicated body of work.
Bruno Ganz will be an honorary guest at the 23rd European Film Awards Ceremony on 4 December 2010 in Tallinn.
The European Film Awards 2010 are presented by the European Film Academy e.V. and EFA Productions gGmbH with the support of European Capital of Culture Tallinn 2011, Estonian Ministry of Culture, the City of Tallinn, Estonian Cultural Endowment, Enterprise Estonia, Estonian Public Broadcasting, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and BDG.
11 September, 2010
Winner of the European Film Academy Award For An Artistic Contribution 2006: Production Design (Pierre Pell & Stéphane Rozenbaum).
While the majority of the French population sit around smoking Gauloises, sipping Absinthe and trying very hard to look like tortured artists, Michel Gondry seems to have something else keeping him awake - sleep.
The acclaimed director is something of an oddball, having directed such an eclectic range of movies, including videos for Daft Punk and Massive Attack, the quirky Be Kind, Rewind (2008) and even an episode of the TV cult hit Flight of the Conchords.
He seems at his best when working with the ever-so-slightly surreal, and has the knack of making it fun, engaging and entirely unpretentious. His first sleep-themed film to catch my eye was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - a film in which I was not only surprised to find that Jim Carrey is a mighty fine actor, but that Kate Winslet also has her moments.
You will remember, if you have seen Eternal Sunshine..., how dreams and sleep almost interweave with real life in a subtle and quiet manner, up to the point where it's often difficult to tell which is which. This, of course, is the thrust of the story. Many ancient cultures - and some modern ones - believed that dreams were just another part of consciousness, and talked about them as if they were on a parallel with conscious thought and experience. Gondry appears to have found a way of expressing this in cinematic form and is stamping his authority all over this movie-making method. His real talent lies in making both these worlds distinctly separate, yet linear, and managing to portray them so effortlessly that there is little danger of appearing too 'arty'.
Written by the talented Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovitch (1998)), it's a love story in essence, but don't worry - it doesn't get too squishy. If you know Kaufman's work, you'll know it's not going to be formulaic, and will require at least a medium-term attention span. The reward is a cracking story, so well worth the efort. Stéphane (Gael García Bernal) arrives in Paris, the town of his birth, from Mexico, following the death of his father. Despite his limited ability to speak French (it was his mother's language) he manages to get a job in a design studio, hoping to forge a career as a graphic designer. There follows a few really well-paced gags on his clumsiness with the language which manage to be cute and touching rather than 'oh look at the stupid foreigner', and eventually the meeting with Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Gainsbourg, of course, is following the French law which requires her to look nothing but gorgeous, so obviously Stéphane would like to see more of her. His courtship is something of a farce in many ways, as he clumsily stumbles from one limp excuse to another and fails to win her over - except for her fascination with his aptitude for cartooning, stop-frame animation and the invention of weird gadgets. This plot device allows a fairly seamless transition from reality to dreams.
The Science of Sleep (2006) is a well-acted movie by a writer with a penchant for the unusual and a director who's more than up to the job of filming his stories. Bernal and Gainsbourg make for an odd couple - not in looks, but in sensibilities, and play their respective parts with aplomb, but the real star is the set. Skipping between dreams set in a cardboard TV studio and flights of fancy lovingly rendered in stop-frame, this gentle romantic comedy (and yes, that's really what it is) should leave you with a nice, warm and fuzzy feeling and a smile on your face. If not, there's always A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Awards: Click here for details.
105 mins. In English, French and Spanish.
10 September, 2010
Official Selection, European Film Awards 2010.
Well, she has obviously had the oil removed in which she was eventually covered during her short-lived appearance in Quantum of Solace (2008), and it is fair to say that most red-blooded males will be happy about that – Gemma Arterton's natural beauty simply lights up the screen in Stephen Frear's adaptation of Posy Simmonds' graphic shorts concerning a girl who returns to her roots.
Tamara Drewe returns from her job as a London newspaper columnist to the idyllic country village in which she grew up. Back home to sell her parents' house and to interview rock star Ben Sargeant (Dominic Cooper), Drewe's transformation from the proverbial ugly duckling (with, it must be said a nose that was out of proportion to her face) into the strikingly attractive young woman (post nose-job) now gracing the village has not gone unnoticed, either by Ben himself, her old boyfriend Andy (Luke Evans) or Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam), who plans on doing the dirty on his wife Beth (Tamsin Grieg). And, on the periphery of this enclosed world are Jody (Jessica Barden) and Casey (Charlotte Christie), two precocious teens who very much have their own agenda concerning the rock star. Trouble is brewing...
But, this being Stephen Frears (The Queen (2006), Dirty Pretty Things (2002)), the trouble is always of the entirely charming variety – perhaps, as with the films of Richard Curtis, one never quite buys the sense of genuine community that the film creates, and maybe its town mouse/country mouse motifs are a little too broad for their own good at times (as are the performances by Barden and Christie, which occasionally veer too close to caricature), but the timeless (and immaculately timed) performances from Arterton and particularly Cooper, more than make up for any reality gap.
Yes, there may also be few too many British stereotypes laid on a little thick, but what harm is there in that, exactly? Director Frears proves that they still do make 'em like they used to, with Tamara Drewe (2010), and that is no bad thing at all.
46 films, 32 countries
As announced by the European Film Academy and EFA Productions and already published on the European Film Awards website, there are 46 films in this year’s EFA Selection, the list of films recommended for a nomination for the European Film Awards 2010. With 32 countries represented, the list once again illustrates the great diversity of European cinema. The selected films also cover a wide range of genres and themes from comedies about families, restaurants or burials to dramas about childhood, prison life or prostitution, from political thrillers, film essays, and historical epics to a 5½-hour terrorist biopic.
The 20 countries with the most EFA members have voted one national film directly into the selection list. To complete the list, a Selection Committee, consisting of EFA board members and invited experts Gunnar Bergdahl (Sweden), Pierre-Henri Deleau (France), Stefan Kitanov (Bulgaria), Derek Malcolm (UK) and Nikolaj Nikitin (Germany), has included further films.
The EFA Selection 2010
3 SEASONS IN HELL/3 SEZÓNY V PEKLE
by Tomáš Mašin
Czech Republic, 110 mins.
4 BLACK SUITS/TESSERA MAVRA KOUSTOUMIA
by Renos Haralambidis
Greece, 90 mins.
ADRIENN PÁL/PÁL ADRIENN
Hungary, 136 mins.
by Mike Leigh
UK, 129 min.
THE AVIATRIX OF KAZBEK/DE VLIEGENIERSTER VAN KAZBEK
by Ineke Smits
the Netherlands/Georgia, 104 min.
BAD FAMILY/PAHA PERHE
by Aleksi Salmenperä
Finland, 95 mins.
by Olivier Assayas
France/Germany, 318 mins.
CELL 211/CELDA 211
by Daniel Monzón
Spain/France, 114 mins.
THE CONCERT/LE CONCERT
by Radu Mihaileanu
France, 122 mins.
by Antonio Nuić
Croatia, 94 mins.
FILM SOCIALISM/FILM SOCIALISME
by Jean-Luc Godard
Switzerland, 102 mins.
THE FIRST BEAUTIFUL THING/LA PRIMA COSA BELLA
by Paolo Virzi
Italy, 116 mins.
THE GHOST WRITER
by Roman Polanski
France/Germany/UK, 128 mins.
by Semih Kaplanoğlu
Turkey/Germany, 103 mins.
by Goran Paskaljevic
Serbia/Albania, 95 mins.
HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER/Как я провел этим летом (KAK YA PROVEL ETIM LETOM)
by Alexei Popogrebsky
Russia, 124 mins.
I, DON GIOVANNI/I0, DON GIOVANNI
by Carlos Saura
Austria/Italy/Spain, 120 mins.
IF I WANT TO WHISTLE, I WHISTLE/EU CAND VREAU SA FLUIER, FLUIER
by Florin Serban
Romania, 94 mins.
JULIA’S DISAPPEARANCE/GIULIAS VERSCHWINDEN
by Christoph Schaub
Switzerland, 87 mins.
KAWASAKI’S ROSE/KAWASAKIHO RŮŽE
by Jan Hřebejk
Czech Republic, 95 mins.
by Samuel Maoz
Israel, 94 mins.
LOOSE CANNONS/MINE VAGANTI
by Ferzan Ozpetek
Italy, 116 mins.
by Jessica Hausner
Austria/France/Germany, 99 mins.
by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson
Iceland, 88 mins.
THE MAN WHO WILL COME/L’UOMO CHE VERRÀ
by Giorgio Diritti
Italy, 117 mins.
MY JOY/Cчастье моё (SCHASTYE MOYE)
by Sergei Loznitsa
Germany/Ukraine/the Netherlands, 127 mins.
MY QUEEN KARO
by Dorothée van den Berghe
Belgium/the Netherlands, 101 mins.
by Urszula Antoniak
the Netherlands, Ireland, 85 mins.
by Sam Taylor-Wood
UK, 98 mins.
OF GODS AND MEN/DES HOMMES ET DES DIEUX
by Xavier Beauvois
France, 120 mins.
ON THE PATH/NA PUTU
by Jasmila Žbanić
Bosnia & Herzegovina/Austria/Germany/Croatia, 100 mins.
by Mathieu Amalric
France, 111 mins.
by Neil Jordan
Ireland, 111 mins.
OUR LIFE/LA NOSTRA VITA
by Daniele Luchetti
Italy, 98 min.
THE ROBBER/DER RÄUBER
by Benjamin Heisenberg
Austria/Germany, 96 mins.
by Borys Lankosz
Poland, 101 mins.
by Babak Najafi
Sweden, 80 mins.
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES/EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS
by Juan José Campanella
Spain/Argentina, 129 mins.
by Damjan Kozole
Slovenia, 90 mins.
by Fatih Akin
Germany, 99 mins.
by Thomas Vinterberg
Denmark, 110 mins.
by Stephen Frears
UK, 111 mins.
THE TEMPTATION OF ST.TONY/PÜHA TÕNU KIUSAMINE
by Veiko Õunpuu
Estonia, 114 mins.
by Sara Johnsen
Norway, 95 mins.
VOICE OVER/ZAD KADAR
by Svetoslav Ovcharov
Bulgaria, 107 mins.
WHEN WE LEAVE/DIE FREMDE
by Feo Aladag
Germany, 119 mins.
In the coming weeks, the 2,300 members of the European Film Academy will vote for the nominations in the different award categories. The nominations will then be announced on 6 November at the Sevilla European Film Festival in Spain. The 23rd European Film Awards honouring the winners will then take place in Tallinn, Estonia on 4 December. For full details of this year's European Film Awards selection, please click here.
08 September, 2010
We are delighted to welcome talented young author Eleanor Salter to the fold, with her take on the latest comic-book adaptation, which is in the selection list for the People's Choice Awards 2010.
By now, nearly everyone must have seen or heard of Kick-Ass (2010) via its clever advertising and the famous actors in the cast, and the hype leading up to the release of one of the biggest films of the year was well worth it. The actors include Aaron Johnson (Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (2008)), Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider (2007), World Trade Center (2006)), Mark Strong (Stardust (2007), Sherlock Holmes (2009)) and 13-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz ((500) Days of Summer (2009), Bolt (2008)).
It’s a film for anyone who’s a fan of gory comedy, action and slightly awkward romance – a very impressive take by actor-director Matthew Vaughn on the famous comics by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. The storyline revolves around comic geek Dave Lizewski (Johnson) who aspires to be a real-life superhero. Despite the innocent motive behind his schemes, ‘Kick-Ass’ soon gets caught up with REAL superheroes, who kick ass cooler than he could have dreamed.
Hit-Girl (Moretz) and Big Daddy (Cage) aren’t there to mess around, they’re trying to take out big-shot gangster Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). Kick-Ass is now a wanted man but manages to get caught up in romance whilst still trying to keep his identity a secret! With some phoneys, torture, revenge and a massive bazooka, the end of the film sees Kick Ass discovering not only his true self, but also that normal human beings really CAN kick ass.
I enjoyed the film hugely and couldn’t stop laughing – the gory humour could easily have been extreme but was played in such a way that I wanted even more! I found Aaron Johnson’s performance very impressive and, despite the nerdy weakness of his character, I managed to leave the cinema without hating him.
It is definitely a movie I would recommend you watch, just for Chloe Moretz’s humour. Although young, she is extremely experienced and her performance here reflects what we can expect from her in the future. Watch Kick Ass. You won’t regret it.
06 September, 2010
Well, that is it - the build-up to the European Film Awards 2010 officially starts here, with the chance for you to cast your votes in this year's People’s Choice Awards.
Film fans across Europe can now begin electing their favourite film of the year, and there's also the chance win a trip to the European Film Awards Ceremony. Every year, when the European Film Academy invites its members, Europe’s greatest film stars, directors, producers, cinematographers, screenwriters, designers, nominees and winners, to attend the European Film Awards, the People’s Choice Award casts a spotlight on the people films are made for - the audience.
Click here to cast your vote, and take your chance to attend the 23rd European Film Awards on Saturday, 4 December 2010, in the Estonian capital Tallinn on the Baltic coast!
And the nominees are:
Written by Alejandro Amenábar & Mateo Gil
Directed by Alejandro Amenábar
Produced by Alvaro Augustín & Fernando Bovaira
written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
produced by Giampaolo Letta & Mario Spedaletti
Written by Nick Hornby
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Produced by Finola Dwyer & Amanda Posey
FLICKAN SOM LEKTE MED ELDEN (The Girl Who Played With Fire)
Written by Jonas Frykberg
Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Produced by Sören Staermose
THE GHOST WRITER
Written by Robert Harris & Roman Polanski
Directed by Roman Polanski
Produced by Robert Benmussa, Alain Sarde & Roman Polanski
Written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Produced by Matthew Vaughn, Brad Pitt, Kris Thykier, Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack & David Reid
MINE VAGANTI (Loose Cannons)
Written by Ferzan Ozpetek & Ivan Cotroneo
Directed by Ferzan Ozpetek
Produced by Domenico Procacci
Written and directed by Jaco van Dormael
Produced by Philippe Godeau
LE PETIT NICOLAS (Little Nicholas)
Written by Laurent Tirard & Grégoire Vigneron
Directed by Laurent Tirard
Produced by Eric Jehelmann
Written by Fatih Akin & Adam Bousdoukos
Directed by Fatih Akin
Produced by Fatih Akin & Klaus Maeck
So, what are you waiting for? The ballot boxes await!