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The best films at Europa! Europa 2024

by Bernard O'Shea

There are an incredible 47 films screening at the Europa! Europa 2024 festival, and since I still have to work for a living, I’ll be lucky if I get to see more than a dozen of them. But I’m giving it a good go!

These are the ones I’ve enjoyed the most so far. The list is biased as I focus on movies in my five Romance languages. I haven’t yet seen The Promised Land, Denmark’s submission for the Best International Feature Film at the Oscars. It made the 15-film short list, so that’s definitely one to consider. I’m also excluding the six terrific films in the Yorgos Lanthimos Retrospective: chances are you’ve seen them already.

Regardless of languages and what you look for in a film, there’s sure to be many you’ll enjoy among all those screening at Europa! Europa 2024. The festival – now in its third year in Australia – runs until March 10 at Ritz Cinemas Randwick, and until March 11 at Classic Cinemas Elsternwick and Lido Cinemas Hawthorn.

They Shot The Piano Player

A terrific documentary (its Spanish title is Dispararon al pianistas) shot in glorious cartoon-style colour (pictured at top) about the mysterious disappearance in 1976 of renowned Brazilian pianist Francisco Tenório Junior. It brilliantly captures the beauty of Rio de Janeiro and the vibrancy of its music scene at the time when Bossa Nova was catching worldwide attention. Sadly, the joie de vivre didn’t last long as South America soon plunged into brutal military dictatorships. Jeff Goldblum narrates the part of the American music journalist who stumbles upon and is intrigued by Tenório’s case. The film was nominated in the Best Animated Film at Spain’s recent Goya Awards and is Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal’s stylistic follow-up to Chico and Rita/Chico y Rita, which won the Goya Award for Best Animated Film in 2011 and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 84th Academy Awards.

See also: Fernando Trueba’s ‘crazy idea’

Fernando (Iván Massagué) and Jules (José Garcia).

A Chef For Dali

Flawless film-making from director David Pujol,  who’s created a wonderfully surreal and colourful work worthy of the renowned artist himself.  It’s 1975 and the Franco regime is desperately trying to cling to power. Having taken part in protests in Barcelona, two brothers, Fernando (Iván Massagué) and Alberto (Pol López) flee north to seek refuge in a coastal village, Cadaqués, and join a group of hippies. And why not? It’s such a stunning location, I’d seek refuge there myself! Eccentric restaurateur Jules (José Garcia) hires Fernando as head chef at El Surreal, his restaurant dedicated to the art of Salvador Dali. The great artist lives across the bay, and often passes by in a little boat, but much to Jules’ frustration, has never stopped to eat at El Surreal. One good restaurant review from Dali will bring him Jules fame and fortune. So he spends a fortune on an extravagant meal to lure Dali and win him over. What could possibly go wrong? Practically everything! It’s a joyous, entertaining spectacle with stunning food to drool over and lots of tasty subplots too. The film’s Spanish title is Esperando a Dalí (Waiting for Dali).

A rocky start to their friendship: Toni (Paco León) and Emilio (Ernesto Alterio)


When I first saw the trailer on my computer, I was ho-hum about it, marking it as a maybe rather than a must see. But when the trailer was played in the cinema before the screening of A Chef For Dali, the the Spanish-speaking members of the audience were laughing out loud, and I thought ‘I must see this’. The dialogue is much funnier than the English subtitles convey. The film – Spanish title Mari(dos) – is a great mix of hilarity and poignancy. Paco León and Ernesto Alterio shine as contrasting oddball characters Toni and Emilio, who meet in the Aragonese Pyrenees, where their wives have been badly injured in an avalanche. There they’re startled to find they’re both married to the same woman, who’s in a coma. When their children arrive – Toni has an adopted Russian boy, Emilio two young daughters, one of who is starting to identify as a boy – the adults and their often wiser children have to adapt to the new family dynamic. This is the most unusual Bromance film you’ll ever see!

Making Of

Released in France in January, only one month before the Europa! Europa 2024 film festival started, Making Of is a riveting addition to the ‘film within a film’ genre. Denis Podalydès, who was terrific in the recent comedy French Tech, plays a harassed film director whose project goes awry from day 1. Amid much chaos and confusion, one of the extras, Joseph (Stefan Crepon), a wannabe actor/director who works in a pizza joint, is tasked with filming a ‘making of’ documentary … though nobody knows who’s commissioned it. The feature film everyone’s working on is a gritty industrial relations battle between rebellious workers and management over a factory closure, but soon their art imitates real life: the financiers have pulled out and they either quit making the movie or complete it without pay. Jonathan Cohen and Souheila Yacoub give great performances as the hero and heroine of the film within the film, but of course can’t stand each other on the set. If real life film-making is as crazy as it’s depicted here, how lucky we are that we get to see it in our comfort zones – at home or in a cinema. M5R

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