The 17th annual European Union Film Festival is back on the big screens

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Flowers from the Mount of Olives is a film from Estonia in the 17th annual European Union Film Festival. (Screenshot from YouTube)
Flowers from the Mount of Olives is a film from Estonia in the 17th annual European Union Film Festival. (Screenshot from YouTube)

By Mary Beach

The 17th annual European Union Film Festival is competing with holiday blockbusters at the Cinematheque in downtown Vancouver this week.

The festival opened on Nov. 21 and runs through to Dec. 4. It’s showcasing films from 27 of the 28 members of the European Union.

“Each country in the European Union chooses their own film. So it’s a very different way of putting a program together,” said Jim Sinclair, artistic director of the Cinematheque. “So some of them choose festival films, art films, some of them choose popular hits in the home country that seldom travel abroad. It’s a real mix,” he said.

Ethnic audiences 

Sinclair said his primary audiences are cinephiles and various ethnic communities. Initially the festival also had showings at UBC in cooperation with the institute of European Studies, but students don’t seem to be among the moviegoers.

Diodora Bucur, press officer for the European Union Delegation to Canada, said the festival is for people curious about “what life is like in Europe through the camera lens.”

Dr. Laura Marks of Simon Fraser University said, “Hollywood’s repertoire is pretty starkly limited, especially when it comes to well-crafted, small-scale narratives.” She added, “each film gives a focused view of a country where both the similarities to and differences from North American life are fascinating.”

This year’s films 

Sinclair highlighted some of the upcoming films in the festival.

Little Black Spiders, the Belgian film, is coming up. It actually played the Vancouver Women and Film festival last year, won three awards there, and has been compared to Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides.”

He also mentioned Flowers from the Mount of Olives, “a very interesting documentary from Estonia about an Orthodox nun living in Jerusalem.”

The Cinematheque plays a double bill most nights. Tickets run $11 for single bill adults and $14 double bill for adults while for students it’s $9 for a single bill, and $11 for double bill.

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