FOUR FILMS which have been entered for the Best Foreign Film at the 2020 Oscars will be among the award winning, critically acclaimed, box-office hits from across Europe, North Africa, and Caucasia, which will be screened in Galway this month.
The Subtitle - Spotlight European Film Festival returns to the Town Hall Theatre from Friday January 24 to Sunday 26 with 10 films ranging from comedies, to thrillers, to romantic dramas.
The festival opens on Friday January 24 at 6pm with French film Our Struggles (2018 ). Olivier finds himself struggling to balance his responsibilities at work, in the home, and as a parent, after his wife Laura abandons him and the children. Featuring French star Romain Duris, who was nominated for the César Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Olivier, the film deals with the nature of absence, asking, how do you talk about desertion, without condemning the deserter?
At 8pm, Algerian film, Papicha (2019 ), the debut feature from director Mounia Meddo, and which has been entered for Best Foreign Film for the 2020 Oscars, will be screened. Set during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s, it tells the story of free-spirited, fashion-loving, student, Nedjma, whose freedom is increasingly curbed by sinister conservative forces, until there is nothing else to do but either rebel or leave. Lyna Khoudri has won acclaim for her striking performance as Nedjma.
Finland is the setting for One Last Deal (2018 ) which will be shown on Saturday 25 at 1pm. Elderly art dealer Olavi (Heikki Nousiainen ), is about to retire, but he cannot imagine life without work. At an auction, an old painting catches his attention. Olavi suspects it is worth more than its starting price, and decides to make one last deal to earn some proper pension money. To do this, he must face both the auction house and his own past mistakes - a film which suggests the most valuable bargains we strike in life are more emotional than financial.
At 3pm, another entrant for Best Foreign Film at the 2020 Oscars, And Then We Danced (Georgia, 2019 ), will be shown. Merab has been training from a young age at the National Georgian Ensemble with his dance partner Mary. His world turns upside down when the carefree Irakli arrives and becomes both his strongest rival and desire. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Odessa Film Festival and it features a superb, breakout performance from Georgian actor Lev Gelbakhiani.
The third entry for Best Foreign Film is Aurora (Finland, 2019 ) which deals with with immigration, asylum, and interracial romance. Party animal Aurora meets Darian at a hot-dog stand in Finnish Lapland. Darian, from Iran, needs to marry a Finnish woman to gain asylum. While Aurora dismisses his propositions of marriage, she agrees to help, introducing him to numerous women. As time goes by, the two grow closer. Could a romance finally blossom between them? Then the perfect wife candidate comes along. What will happen? Find out at 6pm.
Saturday's screenings conclude at 8.30pm with the comedy-drama La Belle Époque (France, 2019 ), starring Daniel Auteuil (Jean de Florette ) and Fanny Ardant (Paris, Je T'Aime ). Disillusioned sexagenarian Victor is offered a chance to step back in time when Antoine, a brilliant entrepreneur, asks him to take part in his company's new venture - a chance to dive back into any era you choose via a mixture of theatrical artifices and historical reconstruction. Victor then choses to relive the most memorable week of his life, where, 40 years earlier, he met his great love.
The final screenings of the festival are on Sunday 26 with two German films and a Swiss film. First up is I Was, I Am, I Will Be (Germany, 2019 ) at 3.15pm. Winner of Best Screenplay at the 2019 Munich Film Festival, it centres on Kurdish gigolo Baran who dreams of a future in Europe, and German pilot Marion, struggling to come to terms with a difficult medical diagnosis. When the two meet at the Turkish resort of Marmaris, they engage in a kind of mutually beneficial double-cross, which rapidly evolves into something far deeper.
System Crasher (Germany, 2019 ) is the festival's fourth entrant for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Benni is a nine-year-old girl who has been expelled from everywhere she has ended up, so much so that child protection services call her a ‘system crasher’. Benni has a goal, and that is to be at home with her mother Bianca, but Bianca is scared of Benni. Then Mrs Bafané from child protection hires the anger management trainer Micha as Benni’s school escort and suddenly there is a seed of hope. Will Micha be able to succeed where all others despaired? Find out when the film is screened at 6pm.
The final film of the festival is Those Who Work (Switzerland, 2019 ) which will be screened at 8.30pm. Frank is a workaholic. No matter the place or the circumstances, day or night, he is on the phone, handling the cargo ships he charters for major companies. When he has to deal with a crisis situation, he makes a brutal decision and the consequences are severe. Profoundly shaken, betrayed by a system to which he gave his all, he has to progressively question himself to save the one connection that still matters to him: the bond he’s managed to maintain with his youngest daughter, Mathilde.
Tickets are €9/€8 (1pm to 5.30pm screenings ) and €10/9 for screenings after 5.30pm. A festival pass for all 10 films is €65 and a ticket for five films is €35. Contact the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 or see www.tht.ie