Days of European film brings hot topics to Czech screens next week

The 30th edition of the festival presents premieres, award winners, documentaries, and a few classics from almost three dozen countries.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 14.04.2023 16:00:00 (updated on 15.04.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

The 30th edition of Days of European Film (DEF) takes place in Prague from April 20 to 25 at Světozor, Lucerna, and Přítomnost as well as cinemas in Brno and Ostrava. After that, a small selection of films will be shown in regional cities until April 30.

The festival presents feature films and documentaries from almost three dozen countries. Many of the films will be seen in Czechia for the first time. Most will have English and Czech subtitles.

“Contemporary European filmmakers have their sights set on topics such as coming of age, disinformation, changes in society, events at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, ecology, and sustainability. We thus bring unique testimony from various parts of Europe about the present and the recent past,” festival curator Šimon Šafránek said.

Award winners and festival hits

The festival opens with the Italian-French film “L'immensità” (Nesmírnost), starring Penélope Cruz. The film, set in the 1970s in Rome, focuses on an unhappily married couple and their child, who starts to identify as male. Andrea (a male name in Italy) falls in love with a girl named Sara.

Another Czech premiere is the Polish film “Bread and Salt” (Chléb a sůl), about ethnic tensions surrounding a kebab shop. It won a Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. The French film “The Worst Ones” (Ti nejhorší), which takes a behind-the-scenes look at a director who selects an unusual cast, received the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes.

Both of these films appear in a festival section dedicated to Generation Z. Many other films in the program also won awards at major festivals or had Oscar nominations.

Some filmmakers will appear in person. Israeli artist and director Ann Oren, working in Berlin, will present the drama “Piaffe” (Piaffa) about sexual awakening and the power of sound. Director Colm Bairéad and producer Cleona Ní Chrualaoí will present the Oscar-nominated Irish debut “The Quiet Girl” (Mlčenlivá dívka) and also lead a masterclass. Czech director Adam Sedlák will also be on hand for the screening of “Banger.” a recent film about a drug dealer who wants to make a hit song.

Special sections and competitions

This year’s festival will have a special focus on German film director Fatih Akin. His latest film “Rhinegold” (Zlato Rýna) is based on the autobiography of a German rapper of Kurdish descent who led a life of crime before turning to music. This film will also compete for a prize in a section dedicated to film and music.

Several of his older films, such as “The Edge of Heaven” (Na druhé straně) and “In the Fade” (Odnikud) will also be included in the program.

The main competition, focused on debuts, has several films where young actors excel such as the Portuguese film “Alma Viva” or the Latvian drama “Sisters” (Ségry). “The debut section also includes the fantastic parkour drama ‘Off the Rails’ by the English TV matador Peter Day, which is considered the new ‘Trainspotting,’” Šafránek said.

Šafránek had another recommendation in the film and music competition as well. “I'm very happy that the selection includes the sci-fi drama ‘The Gravity’ (Gravitace) by Cedric Ido, in which social outcasts from the Parisian housing projects meet with the atmosphere of von Trier's ‘Melancholia,’ all with the unique music of the siblings Evgueni and Sacha Galperine,” Šafránek said.

The Benelux countries are another special focus. The film “Zillion,” the true epic story of the rise and fall of a nightclub in Antwerp in the 1990s. “We emphasize Benelux as a center of co-productions and proof that even small countries can play the first violin in the film industry,” Šafránek said.

Some screenings will also be accompanied by public debates with 2023 presidential candidate Danuše Nerudová, historian Luboš Švec, and others. The program will also contain workshops, seminars, and a fund-raising exhibition.

The complete program and tickets are available on the festival website.

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