Home Europe Romance languages dominate the 2023 Europa! Europa film festival

Romance languages dominate the 2023 Europa! Europa film festival

by Bernard O'Shea

The Europa! Europa film festival is returning to Australia for its second year with an impressive selection of 29 films involving 24 different countries, including 18 in my five Romance languages. The festival runs in Sydney and Melbourne from February 16 to March 7.

The line-up is awesome: eight of the films were submitted by their home countries for the Best International Feature Film category at the 2023 Academy Awards, and it includes As Bestas (The Beasts), which triumphed overnight at the Spanish film industry’s 37th Goya Awards, winning in nine categories including best film, director, and original screenplay.

“Europa! Europa is a celebration of the diversity and richness of European cinema,” says the festival’s artistic director Thomas Caldwell. “It gives Australian audiences the chance to see diverse cinema from European countries that are often overlooked.” Among the overlooked countries represented this year are Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Slovakia, Croatia and Ukraine.

Three cinema are involved, two in Melbourne (Classic Cinemas in Elsternwick and Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn) and Ritz Cinemas in Randwick, Sydney.

An old man and his son with ashen faces watch a fire burn

French film En Plein Feu (The Blaze) will open the festival.

Romance language films

As far as languages go, French dominates the 2023 Europa! Europa film festival with nine films, but that’s because there’s the Australian premiere of the 4K restorations of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s ‘Three Colours‘ trilogy (Three Colours: Blue, Three Colours: White, and Three Colours: Red – the colours of the French flag).

A French film En Plein Feu (English title The Blaze) has been chosen as the opening night film. It’s a story for our climate crisis times, following a son and his ageing father trapped in a devastating wildfire in the south of France.

There are five other films in French, three each in Spanish and Romanian (two from Romania and one from Moldova which has a mix of Romanian and Russian), two in Italian and one in Portuguese. The sumptuous photo at the top is from the film Il Boemo, which was the Czech Republic’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards. It tells the life of Czech composer Josef Mysliveček, who quit the family milling business in Prague and goes to Venice, where he forges a highly successful career in Italian opera.

A nurse in uniform takes part in a party at a nursing home.

Jennifer Saunders in Allelujah.

Judi Dench and Jennifer Saunders star in festival finale

The film chosen to close the 2023 Europa! Europa film festival – Britain’s Allelujah – is also very topical. It explores the challenges of healthcare in a geriatric hospital facing closure, and pays tribute to the UK’s National Health Service. If you’ve been following British politics, you’ll know that the NHS is on the verge of collapse, it’s been so badly funded, and staff have staged strikes and protests to draw attention to the appalling pay and working conditions. It’s based on a stage play by Alan Bennett, and its star-studded cast includes Judi Dench and Jennifer Saunders of Absolutely Fabulous fame.

My Five Romances will do more posts on the Romance language films involved. In the meantime, go to the 2023 Europa! Europa film festival website. M5R

Photos courtesy of the 2023 Europa! Europa film festival.

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