Calgary European Film Festival will offer a wide variety of continental cinema

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A harrowing Albanian drama about a woman dealing with her missing husband, two short documentaries from Azerbaijan, a swashbuckling period sports drama from the Czech Republic and a fast-paced thriller from Lithuania are some of the cinematic delights that film lovers local can enjoy at the 11th Annual Calgary European Film Festival.

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A scene from the German film Beautiful, which will be screened at the Calgary European Film Festival.  Courtesy, Calgary European Film Festival
A scene from the German film Beautiful, which will be screened at the Calgary European Film Festival. Courtesy, Calgary European Film Festival jpg

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The hybrid festival, which will include screenings at the Globe Cinema and online, runs from November 5-13 and will feature films from 28 countries. That includes The Crusade, an eco-leaning French film that premiered at Cannes in 2021 about kids who take bold steps to save the planet; Beautiful, a dramatic comedy that explores the myths of beauty; and the opening film Three Floors, an Italian drama that follows the lives of three families over a decade.

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But, as in previous years, there is a focus on films from countries that have a lower profile in world cinema. This year, that includes entries from Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Albania and Azerbaijan.

A scene from A Tale of Love and Desire by Leyla Bouzid, a French-Tunisia co-production that can be seen at the Calgary European Film Festival.  Courtesy, Calgary European Film Festival
A scene from A Tale of Love and Desire by Leyla Bouzid, a French-Tunisia co-production that can be seen at the Calgary European Film Festival. Courtesy, Calgary European Film Festival jpg

“We really try to get smaller countries involved as well because their film industry is usually very small and they don’t have the means to create international exposure.” He says Beatrix Downton, president of the Calgary European Film Festival – Calgary European Cultural Society. “With our festival, we can facilitate that.”

A scene from Bartosz Blaschke's Sonata, a Polish drama screening at the Calgary European Film Festival.  Courtesy, Calgary European Film Festival
A scene from Bartosz Blaschke’s Sonata, a Polish drama screening at the Calgary European Film Festival. Courtesy, Calgary European Film Festival jpg

The festival partners with various cultural groups, from the Cite des Rochesuses, the Francophile and Francophone center of Alberta; to the Canadian Albanian Association of Calgary and the Alberta Azerbaijani Cultural Society.

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For the first time, the festival is partnering with the Calgary Arab Arts and Culture Society, which hosted its own Calgary Arab Film Nights Festival at the Globe Cinema earlier this month, for a screening. A Story of Love and Desire is a French-Tunisia co-production about the romance between an 18-year-old French Algerian from the suburbs of Paris and a Tunisian girl he meets at university.

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The representatives of the community groups choose the film from their country, with the criterion that it is from the last few years and is acclaimed.

There are a number of entries that will live up to European cinema’s reputation for being serious and somber. Women Do Cry from Bulgaria is about an HIV-positive woman dealing with homophobia and misogyny in her country. Let There Be Light, from Slovakia, is about a father dealing with his eldest son’s involvement in a violent youth paramilitary group. Iceland’s Quake is about a mother who suffers a severe epileptic seizure resulting in total amnesia, leading her to hide her condition for fear of losing her child as she deals with the onslaught of repressed memories from childhood. she.

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But the 28 movies come in all shapes and sizes. The Last Race, from the Czech Republic, is a fact-based sports drama about a 1913 ski race through the Giant Mountains. Cream is a Hungarian romantic comedy about an abandoned woman who founds a pastry shop. Sonata is a Polish feel-good drama against all odds about a boy who dreams of becoming a concert pianist despite his hearing loss.

The festival relies on its partner organizations to network and spread the word about programming in their respective communities. But Downton says the festival’s reputation has grown over the years and it often attracts moviegoers who aren’t necessarily from Europe but are curious about its cinema.

“Because we have this unique focus of being a community-based festival where the different participating communities bring films, they also bring their audience in,” she says. “But they choose the film, it’s also about sharing it with Calgary and choosing themes that address all of our experiences in life. We definitely see people coming who have no connection to the specific ethnic community.”

The Calgary European Film Festival takes place November 5-13 at the Globe Cinema and online. Visit calgaryeuropeanfilmfestival.ca for information about schedules and tickets.

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