Groundbreaking and heartwarming films take centerstage in this year’s Cine Europa 18 at Shang Cineplex Shangri-La Plaza from September 10 to 20. The festival, which highlights the best of European cinema, features a compelling mix of coming-of-age flicks and timeless love tales that will bring audiences to an exploration of the human spirit and emotions that is truly unforgettable.
Romance blooms amidst the magic of dance in Rise Up! And Dance (Austria) which tells the story of farmer Markus and student Romi and their shared passion for ballet and break dance. In Faith, Love, and Whiskey (Bulgaria), Neli, a newly-engaged woman in America, panics and goes back to Bulgaria where she rediscovers her wild past together with her drifter friends. In the process, she falls in love with her alcoholic best friend but must make a choice when her fiancé arrives unexpectedly.
A tumultuous love affair comes at the fore of The Legend of Paul and Paula (Germany), which chronicles the dramatic story of two lovers who go through divorces, sorrows, and betrayals before finally ending up together. Meanwhile, a dash of romance and comedy awaits with Suck Me Shakespeer (Germany), about an ex-con who passes himself as a substitute teacher in the school that sits atop the stolen cash that his girlfriend buried for him. While secretly digging for his loot, the teacher Zeki brings the unruly kids of a class back on track with his drastic yet effective methods that gain the attention of his prim and proper fellow teacher, Lisi.
In Totally True Love (Norway), nine-year-old Anne must fight for the affections of Jorgen, the new boy in her class, against the prettiest girl in school, Ellen. In Little Baby Jesus (Czech Republic), charming 60-something Jose returns to Prague after living in Mexico for 30 years to ask for a miracle from the famous Infant Jesus so he and his deeply religious wife Dolores’ daughter Penelope can bear a child.
Fourteen-year-old Diane’s life is turned upside down when she meets the adventurous and liberated Julia in Puppy Love (Belgium). While she grows up and gains some of the most thrilling experiences of her life, Diane’s friendship with Julia causes her to forget her morals and the limits of her own desires. In Gilles (Belgium), 12-year-old Gilles’ ultimate dream is to run onto the pitch of the King Baudouin Stadium wearing the uniform of his favorite football team the Red Devils. But when his personal coach and most loyal supporter—his father Papa Bert—dies, he faces a difficult search to regain a place in his new life. Ovosodo (Italy) tackles finding one’s place in life as it follows Piero, a shy boy from a working-class neighborhood from childhood to adulthood.
An exploration of a boy and his grandfather’s relationship drives the story of 15 Years and One Day (Spain), where troublesome teenager Jon is sent by his mom to his grandfather, a retired solider who can straighten him out. In Ginger and Cinnamon (Italy), aunt and niece Stefania and Meggy learn about love and family as they go on holiday in a Greek resort where they stumble upon an unexpected person. The Corpse Must Die (Slovakia) gives a peek into the different ways of love with the story of Kristof and Nada, husband and wife teachers whose actions towards a nymphomaniac student and a cheeky stranger begin a series of crazy events.
More charming stories are in store for moviegoers with La Belle Vie (France). After years on the run brothers Sylvain and Pierre are road-weary and want to take advantage of the perks of young adulthood. But when the authorities discover their whereabouts, they are forced to move again, ending in Pierre’s disappearance. Sylvain meets his father on an island in the Loire River, where he finds the first stop on his way to “the good life”—his own. It’s also time to meet a new superhero in the person of Antboy (Denmark), who is actually 12-year-old Pelle who gets bitten by an ant and develops superpowers. Another boy pursues his passion for music in Finn (The Netherlands). Here, nine-year-old Finn struggles to make music despite his father’s wishes for him to play football instead. An encounter with an old man who plays the violin so beautifully inspires him to go for what he wants.
When a wedding ceremony gets interrupted in the wake of Joseph Stalin’s death, a fine mime production ensues. Watch as it culminates into a raucous celebration with the twists and turns of comedy of Silent Wedding (Romania). In Keep Rollin’ (Switzerland), daredevil turned paraplegic Valentin enrolls in an experimental theatre workshop and discovers the unique qualities of his mentally disabled yet talented co-members.
Intertwining stories is also a common theme this year beginning with Naked Harbour (Finland), which tells the story of eight different people who are all seeking love and approval at any cost. Multi-plot drama Stockholm Stories (Sweden) is a contemporary and humorous take on the lives of five people whose paths intersect during a few rainy days in November. Pride (United Kingdom) is about the unlikely yet triumphant partnership of the National Union of Mineworkers and gay and lesbian activists.
Dramatic features round up the list with the likes of Miasto 44 (Poland), which tells the story of loves and friendships formed during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising; IDA (Poland), about young nun’s discovery of a dark family secret that dates back to the Nazi occupation; and Live (Romania), which narrates successful TV anchor Ema’s struggles in the middle of a big scandal.
Audiences looking for fascinating stories that thrill, excite, and move have more than enough choices with the myriad of films in this year’s Cine Europa 18.
Cine Europa is open for free to the public. Tickets are released 30 minutes before screening time. For inquiries, contact 370-2500 local 597 or visit www.shangrila-plaza.com.