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Cine Europa 16 opens at the Shang with 21 outstanding films

“O xenagos (The guide)”, Greece’s entry in this year’s Cine Europa. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Shangri-La Plaza opens its doors to cinephiles and film enthusiast once again as it hosts the highly anticipated Cine Europa 16 from September 5 to 15 at Cinema 2 of the Shang Cineplex. This year sees 21 poignant and compelling titles from the seventeen participating European nations.

Austria presents “Das Pferd auf dem Balkon (The Horse on the Balcony)” – the story of 10-year-old Mika, who suffers from a mild form of autism. He loves math, is incapable of a telling a lie or understanding a joke, and has to have lunch at precisely 14:17 each day. Mika’s strictly controlled life is turned upside down one winter’s night when he hears a neighing sound. He can hardly believe his eyes when he spots a horse on the balcony of the apartment next door, and sets on a mission to solve the mystery.

Belgium’s entry “A Pas de Loup (With a Wolf’s Gait)” tells the story of six-year-old girl Cathy who must accompany her parents to the countryside every weekend despite her distant relation with her parents. Weekends at the farm are as dreary as usual, until Cathy receives ‘magic seeds’ from the hands of an old farm worker. Curious and excited, she decides not to return home at the end of the weekend, so that she can observe how the seeds start to grow. Staying behind alone, Cathy realizes that her parents will be worried and will start looking for her. She is afraid to be severely punished for this big mistake, and she runs away into the forest where she gets lost.

Directed by Ivailo Hristov, Bulgaria’s “Стъпки в пясъка (Footsteps in the sand)” is a sad and funny story about the love of a boy (Slavi) and a girl (Nelly), who at the age of six promised to marry each other, and whose intertwined lives take them through love, friendships, betrayals, partings, and roamings around the world, until reaching a final homecoming.

Czech Republic’s “Musíme si Pomáhat (Divided We Fall)” begins in a small Czech town occupied by Nazi German forces during the Second World War. Josef and Marie Cizek, a childless couple, are trying to survive the difficult times of war by confining themselves in their house, simplifying their lives to everyday passive commonness. They are forced to change this life attitude radically though, after Josef meets with David Weiner, the young Jewish son of his former employer, whose family has long since been deported from the town. David is now the only surviving member of his family and has recently escaped from a concentration camp. Fully aware of the extreme danger of harboring a Jew, the Cizeks cannot leave David to certain death and decide to provide refuge in their home.

“A Royal Affair” from Denmark is a true story of an ordinary man who wins the queen’s heart and starts a revolution. Centering on the intriguing love triangle between the insane Danish King Christian VII, the royal physician Struensee – a man of enlightenment and idealism, and the young but strong Queen Caroline Mathilda, “A Royal Affair” is the gripping tale of brave idealists who risk everything in the pursuit of freedom for their people. Above all, it is a story of a passionate and forbidden romance that changed an entire nation.

From Paris in the 60’s to London’s modern days, France’s “Les Bien Aimes (Beloved)” tells the story of Madeleine and her daughter Vera waltz in and out of the lives of the men they love. But love can be light and painful, cheerful and bitter. An elegy to femininity and passion with musical outbursts.

“A Royal Affair” from Denmark is a true story of an ordinary man who wins the queen’s heart and starts a revolution. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

About nine years before the fall of the Wall, Barbara (Germany), a doctor from Berlin, applies for an exit permit from the GDR, but she is arrested and transferred to a provincial hospital after her release in the summer of 1980. While her lover prepares for her escape to the West via the Baltic Sea, Barbara works under frequent observation and control. When the day of her escape finally arrives, Barbara makes a surprising decision.

“In Almanya – Wilkommen” in Deutschland (Germany), Hüseyin Yilmaz came to Germany in 1964 as an Anatolian guest worker. Shortly before he is about to be naturalized, he realizes he is not sure he wants to become a German citizen. Unexpectedly, he reveals to his wife, children and grandchildren that he has bought a house in his old hometown and that he expects them to go there and help him renovate it. Reactions are mixed. Hüseyin reassures everyone that he only wants to use it as a holiday home; that he does not want to return there permanently. Canan is afraid to travel; she is pregnant and neither her parents nor her grandparents know. Episodes from the past are meshed with those from the present. Canan tells us how her grandfather eloped with his wife, how he left for Germany to be able to support his wife and children; how he later fetched his family, and what problems he was confronted with upon his arrival in Germany; how the family took their first holiday in Anatolia together and the first signs of alienation.

“O xenagos (The guide)”, Greece’s entry in Cine Europa, is the comedic tale of Iasonas who arrives in Athens to start his new ambitious career as an “architects’ guide” to international students of architecture. Soon, Iasonas is trapped between a friend who progressively sees him less and less as a friend, and a group that sees him less and less as a guide.

At a time when everybody else would like to escape to the West, Hungary’s “Made in Hungária” tells the story of an adolescent boy returns home from America to spread rock’n’roll… In the spring of 1963 Miki and his parents leave behind the American dream and after four years away return to Budapest. Back in Hungary revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries alike regard Miki’s jobless father with suspicion, while Miki – who is a great guitarist and singer with dreams of becoming the next Jerry Lee Lewis – is not accepted by his former friends whose new leader, Röné is referred to as the “Kingfisher”. His first love, Vera, now has a new boyfriend. Miki is left with but one choice: to apply to a talent show and prove to everybody that he has a place in this old-new world. He is a great success and with his American music he casts a spell on his young audience. As the final is approaching it becomes clear to Miki that with his victory he can gain his friends’ appreciation, win back his love and even save his father’s life.

In Italy’s “Pranzo Di Ferragosto (Mid-August Lunch)”, a middle-aged man lives with and looks after his elderly mother, as unpaid bills pile up around him. He is given at least a partial solution to his problem when his landlord and his doctor each persuade him to let them dump their elderly relatives on him. Though reluctant, the hapless hero takes on nanny duties for an assortment of ill-matched, old ladies who descends his flat during the traditional Italian holiday weekend.

“La Stanza Del Figlio (The Son’s Room)”, the second title from Italy, is the story of a family having to face tragedy, and an extenuating and heart-rending period of mourning that is only exacerbated by misunderstandings and the different ways in which each one faces the immense loss.

Based on the best-selling novel by Jacques Vriens, “Achtste Groepers Huilen Niet (Cool Kids Don’t Cry)” from The Netherlands, tells the story of Akkie, a spirited young girl who loves soccer, even though her classmate Joep thinks that soccer is not meant for girls. When Akkie is diagnosed with leukemia, she remains optimistic and even continues to be involved with the school soccer tournament while in the hospital. But when Akkie’s health deteriorates so much that she is no longer able to participate, Joep comes up with a really special plan.

Norway presents “Kautokeino-opprøret (The Kautokeino Rebellion)”, which examines the events following the eve of November 7, 1852, when 57 of the Sami people, men, women and children leave their tents and their reindeer behind and head for Kautokeino to spark a revolution. Several of them will never return home. They reach the township in the early hours of dawn on the next day; and the result is one of the most dramatic episodes in Scandinavian history.

In “Tatal Fantoma (Phantom Father)” presented by Romania, American Professor Robert Traum takes a leave and decides to embrace an adventure that has a close connection with the past. Back in the old continent, Robert tries to unravel the mystery behind the origins of his father and uncle, the famous Traum brothers: Rudolf, a famous novelist, and Samuel, once a big gangster in Chicago.

“Nedodržaný Sľub (Broken Promise)” from Slovakia is a powerful cinematic retelling of the real life story of Martin Friedmann, a Slovak Jew during the Second World War. Unaware of the impending Nazi threat, this talented soccer player sets off to a work camp in Sereď, where his friend has secured him a place on the football team. As the war progresses, Martin finds himself in various different situations and manages to escape death through luck and his talent as a footballer.

Spain’s “Silencio en la nieve (Frozen Silence)” brings audiences back to the Russian front in the winter of 1943 where a battalion of the Blue Division encounters a series of horses’ heads scattered on the frozen surface of a lake with the bodies submerged beneath the ice. Mounted on one of the horses is the body of a Spanish soldier. Arturo Andrade, a former police inspector, takes on the investigation believed to be related to either infiltration or the Masonry.

“Svinalängorna (Beyond)”, director Pernilla August’s debut feature from Sweden, is loosely based on Susanna Alakoski’s award-winning novel of the same name. Set both in the present and in the southern Swedish town of Ystad in the 1970s, the film is a gripping story of a woman’s confrontation with memories from her troubled childhood.

From Switzerland, “Operation Libertad” revolves around the story of the members of a small revolutionary group who break into a Swiss bank near Zurich. The group films the entirety of their actions to prove the collusion between the Helvetic financial system and dictators. And 30 years later, the tapes of the Operation Libertad resurface.

Finally, the United Kingdom screens two titles for the film festival. Project NIM, from the same Oscar-winning team behind “Man on Wire”, is the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child.

And “Dreams of a Life”, a documentary that focuses on Joyce Vicent who died in her bedsit above a shopping mall in North London in 2003, and whose body wasn’t discovered until three years later. It is a film about urban lives, contemporary life, and how, like Joyce, we are all different things to different people. It is about how little we may ever know each other, but nevertheless, how much we can love.

For inquiries, contact 370-2500 loc. 579 or log on to www.shangrila-plaza.com. Add Shangri-La Plaza on Facebook: shangrilaplazaofficialfanpage.

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