Blue-chip cinema on the red carpet at 2016 European Film Festival

Amy Winehouse pic by AlexLake_KK6N2623

Amy Winehouse. Photo: Alex Lake

The Oscar-winning documentary Amy, an intimate portrait of late British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, is among the gems on offer at the European Film Festival, which heads to Cinema Nouveau screens from May 6 to 15.

Ster-Kinekor will be screening 11 feature length films from across the continent at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban during the festival. These multi-awarded films, which have been the toast of the international film festival circuit, have never been screened before in South Africa.

This, the third local edition of the European Film Festival, sees the introduction of documentary films, with three non-fiction offerings on the programme.

Festival director Katarina Hedrén says: “We wish to contribute to the ongoing story of Europe. This story is one of a diverse continent in an interconnected world, which seems to be spinning faster and not always in the right direction.”

Topping the list of films at the 2016 European Film Festival is Amy (UK), directed by Asif Kapadia, which won the 2016 Academy Award and BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature. The documentary tracks the life of the gifted but self-destructive jazz-soul singer until her tragic death from alcohol poisoning in 2011, aged just 27.

Other decorated offerings on the European Film Festival menu are the dramas Macondo (Austria), Body (Poland), Montanha (Portugal), Flowers (Spain), Something Must Break (Sweden) and Labyrinth of Lies (Germany).

Also gracing the silver screen during the festival are the musical comedy Belgian Rhapsody (Belgium), biopic Chocolat (France) and documentaries Fire at Sea (Italy) and A Family Affair (the Netherlands).

The European Film Festival is coordinated by the Goethe-Institut South Africa, hosted by Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau, and organised in partnership with the European Union and 11 other European cultural agencies or embassies in South Africa: the General Representation of the Government of Flanders, the French Institute, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Camões Institute, the British Council, and the Embassies of Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

Says Norbert Spitz, director of the Goethe-Institut, on behalf of the European partners:  “Katarina Hedrén has put together a selection of feature films and documentaries that allows us to discover unconventional, surprising and moving portraits of life in the multifaceted place that Europe is.”

Adds Lola Gallant, Brand Manager of Cinema Nouveau: “As the festival exhibitor, we are delighted to be partnering with the Goethe-Institut and its partners to host the third annual European Film Festival. As Cinema Nouveau, we pride ourselves on providing a platform to screen a wide variety of foreign-language films. We believe the eleven films, lined up for this year’s festival, which would otherwise not be accessible to local cinema audiences, are must-see content for any film lover.“

The European Film Festival screenings will take place at Cinema Nouveau Rosebank, Brooklyn, Gateway and V&A Waterfront. Bookings open on April 15, with tickets priced at R55. Secure your seat by visiting or, or call 0861 668 437. For more information, visit or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook: #EuroFilmFestSA.

Watch the festival trailer here:


Austria - Macondo_Still_13.resized


Macondo (Austria) – Directed by Sudabeh Mortezai, the film stars Ramasan Minkailov, Aslan Elbiev and Kheda Gazieva, It is in German & Chechen with English subtitles.

Following the death of his father, 11-year old Ramasan and his family live in the Macondo refugee settlement outside Vienna. As the oldest child and the only male, he is the head of the household – a role which comes with more responsibility and autonomy than Ramasan is equipped to handle.

The arrival of his father’s best friend, Isa, allows Ramasan to be a child again, but it also means losing some of the freedom he has gotten used to.

Macondo was part of the official competition of Berlin International Film Festival 2014 and won Sudabeh Morezai the award for best emerging filmmaker at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Watch the trailer here:

Belgian Rhapsody (Belgium) – directed by Vincent Bal, the film stars Amaryllis Uitterlinden, Arthur Dupont, Jos Verbist and Tom Audenaert. The film is in  Flemish & French with English subtitles.

The Flemish brass-band Saint Cecilia and their Wallon counterpart, En Avant, compete for the title of Europe’s best brass-band. The sudden loss of Saint Cecilia’s soloist just before the finals, prompts the conductor’s daughter, Elke, to recruit En Avant’s star-soloist, the self-absorbed Hugues. What follows is a hot mess of grudges, stereotyping, good music and a budding love story.

Seasoned filmmaker Vincent Bal started out as an actor, before shifting to directing for film and TV. His 2012 film, The Zigzag Kid earned him the European Film Academy’s Young Audience Award. Watch the trailer here

France - Chocolat (c) Julian Torres_4


Chocolat (France) – directed by Roschdy Zem, the film stars Omar Sy, James Thierrée and Clotilde Hesme. It is in  French with English subtitles.

Starring Omar Sy from The Intouchables (2011) and Swiss circus-artist (and Charlie Chaplin’s grandson) James Thierrée, this bio-pic tells of Cuban-born Rafael Padilla, who rose to fame in France in the late 1800s.

Under the stage-name Chocolat and together with the white clown Footit, Padilla gains popularity with racist circus-routines that reduce him to a buffoon. When he tries to carve out a more dignified niche for himself, the same audiences that loved the racist cliché turn their back on him.

Roschdy Zem has explored the theme of racism both as an actor and director. He continues to do so in this bio-pic, praised for its historically accurate feel. Watch the trailer here:

Germany - Labyrinth Of Lies 2

Labyrinth of Lies

Labyrinth of Lies (Germany) – directed by Giulio Ricciarelli, the film stars André Szymanski, Alexander Fehling and Friederike Becht. It is in German with English subtitles.

Johan Radmann is a newly appointed public prosecutor in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1958. Through a journalist, he learns that many Nazis returned to ordinary life with impunity after the war.

Inspired by the memory of his late idolized father, Radmann decides to make sure that justice is done. The young idealist soon realizes that many of the war-criminals occupy powerful positions in society, and are prepared to go to great lengths to make sure that he does not succeed in his quest.

Labyrinth of Lies was Germany’s submission for the 2016 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. View the trailer here:

Italy - Fire At Sea STILL_1.6.1RS

Fire at Sea

Fire at Sea (Italy) – directed by Gianfranco Rosi, the film stars Samuele Pucillo and Pietro Bartolo. This documentary is in Italian with English subtitles.

Gianfranco Rosi moved to Lampedusa, where he documented not primarily the catastrophe lived by those who seek refuge in Europe, but the curious absence of disruption in the lives of ordinary Lampedusans.

Rosi follows Samuele, the precocious nine-year old son of a fisherman, who goes to school, loves hunting and suffers from sea-sickness. Parallel to the boy’s life, Rosi invites us into that of Pietro Bartolo, a medical doctor, who does not only attend to Samuele’s lazy eye, but also to the fleeing women, men and children arriving at Lampedusa.

Rosi’s gentle, poetic and unprejudiced touch won him the Golden Bear for Best Film at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. View the trailer here:

Netherlands - A Family Affair STILL - Grandma in garden

A Family Affair

A Family Affair (Netherlands)  – directed by Tom Fassaert, the film stars Marianne Hertz, Rob Fassaert, and Rene Fassaert, This documentary is in Dutch & English with English subtitles.

When his 95-year old grandmother – a former model and socialite – invites Tom Fassaert to visit her in South Africa, he seizes the opportunity to find out more about the dynamics and events that have left his father greatly disillusioned and his uncle Rene scarred for life.

During his time with the conflicted and divisive matriarch, Fassaert gains insight into a history and psyche more complex and surreal than he could have imagined, and into the inner workings of a woman who challenged preconceived notions of motherhood long before it was fashionable to do so.

Fassaert’s family document opened the 2016 edition of the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). View the trailer here:

Poland - Body -03rs


Body (Poland) – directed by Malgorzata Szumowska, the film stars Janusz Gajos, Maja Ostaszewska and Justyna Suwala. The film is in Polish with English subtitles.

A fascination for bodies (“physical, astral and dead, objectified, adored and hated”) lies behind Szumowska’s sombre comedy about three people trapped in individual universes of pain and absence.

Olga’s unprocessed grief over her dead mother manifests in self-hatred and severe anorexia. Her distant coroner father – a coroner – seems as unaffected by his daughter’s distress and the loss of his wife as by the dead bodies he deals with on a daily basis. Anna is a kind but lonely physical therapist with psychic abilities, who seeks to help the reluctant family to heal.

Body won Malgorzata Szumowska the awards for Best Director at Berlin International Film Festival and the European Film Awards in 2015. Watch the trailer here:

Portugal - Montanha 06 (1)


Montanha (Portugal) – directed by by João Salaviza, the film stars David Mourato, Maria João Pinho and Rodrigo Perdigão. The film is in Portuguese with English subtitles.

The death of David’s grandfather is imminent, yet the 14-year-old does not feel prepared to visit him in hospital. This mature coming-of-age drama unfolds during the course of a couple of days in Lisbon, during which David severs ties with his childhood.

He roams around aimlessly as if he is looking to dissolve, killing time with a friend and his crush Paulinha – the only one David cares to hold on to. The further he drifts from his past, the closer he connects with the present and the notion of a future he never used to think of.


João Salaviza’s award-winning drama, which follows David’s transition into adulthood, is regarded by the filmmaker as his farewell to cinematic adolescence. View the trailer at:

Spain - Flowers0_N0A0380RS (1)


Flowers (Spain) – directed by John Garrano & Jose Mari Goenaga, the film stars Nagore Aranburo, Itziar Ituño and Itziar Aizpuru. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles.

One day a bouquet of flowers appears at Ana’s doorstep, the subsequent week another bouquet arrives, and the week after that, yet another one. The anonymous sender upsets Ana’s partner, with whom she shares her flat and meals, but not much more. He holds the flower shop accountable for allowing just anybody to send flowers to anyone. After the death of a crane operator, his mother and his ex-wife are equally surprised to regularly find fresh flowers at the spot where he succumbed.

Flower bouquets at the sites of road accidents, as anonymous love letters or as mere proofs of existence, inspired this award-winning film. View the trailer here:

Something Must Break (Sweden) – directed by Ester Martin Bergsmark, the film stars Saga Becker, Iggy Malmborg and Shima Niavarani. The film is in Swedish with English subtitles.

Based on an auto-fictional novel by Eli Levén, who co-wrote the movie-script, Something Must Break, tells of Sebastian, a passionate, but self-destructive gender-queer 20-something.

About to be beaten up, Sebastian is saved by Andreas. Despite Andreas identifying as straight, a complicated and intense love story develops between the two. Though a provocateur defiant in the face of conformity, Andreas is still troubled by his feelings for Sebastian.

Sebastian struggles to not be overcome by the feelings for a non-committal, anxious lover, and also gets ready to let Ellie out – the woman inside, who is growing stronger every day.

Ester Martin Bergsmark’s debut feature has screened at festivals across the world and won numerous awards. View the trailer here:

Amy (United Kingdom) – directed by Asif Kapadia, the film stars Amy Winehouse, Mitch Winehouse and Yasiin Bey. The documentary is in English.

Asif Kapadia’s much talked about documentary follows Amy Winehouse from the early days of her extraordinary career, until the heart-breaking end.

Relying mainly on never before shown footage, this intimate document traces the journey of the talented jazz-singer/songwriter until she achieved levels of fame no one could have dreamed of and the impacts on Winehouse and her family.

Where media headlines focused on the drug-addict, who was a singer, Kapadia’s attention is on the extraordinarily gifted artist, who got stuck in drug abuse and self-destruction.


Among the many awards Asif Kapadia has won, are the 2016 Academy Awards for Best Documentary and the British Academy Film Awards equivalent.  View the trailer here:


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