Classics, cinematic gems in a time of chaos

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“Your Beauty is Worth Nothing”

Several familiar titles stand out in this year’s edition of the Cine Europa film festival, ongoing at the Shangri-La Plaza mall until Sept. 26.

Now on its 20th year, Cine Europa presents 24 movies of diverse genres and from different eras. Black-and-white classics like Francois Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim” (France) and Mario Monicelli’s “Big Deal on Madonna Street” (Italy) share stellar billing with contemporary screen gems like Gabriel Axel’s “Babette’s Feast” (Denmark) and Tom Tykwer’s “Run Lola Run” (Germany).

Old and new merge in this year’s fest, with some countries fielding two entries to further illustrate the dynamic changes in the region’s cinema and culture.

Italy, for example, unveils two movies: “Big Deal on Madonna Street” (1958) and Aureliano Amadei’s “20 Cigarettes” (2010). The two films “reflect a very Italian point of view,” explains Alessandro Milani of the Philippine Italian Association. Still, Milani believes “it will be easy for Filipinos to understand and identify” with the films’ characters and stories.

Set in Iraq during the second Gulf War, “20 Cigarettes” zooms in on “media, terrorism and the catastrophe of war.” In contrast, “Big Deal” is more “light-hearted” and boasts such stars as Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale and comedian Totò (whose 50th death anniversary is marked this year).

France likewise offers two movies: “Jules and Jim” (1961) and Bavo Defurne’s “Souvenir” (2016).

Isabelle Huppert in “Souvenir”

Martin Macalintal, audiovisual attaché of the French Embassy, points out that, with these two movies, “viewers will be able to appreciate the similarities and differences in French and Philippine societies, as well as perhaps the evolution of values [through] time.”

Considered by cineastes as “iconic,” “Jules and Jim” topbills world-renowned actress Jeanne Moreau, who passed away last July 31.

The gifts of another great French actress, Isabelle Huppert, are highlighted in “Souvenir,” which many Filipinos will surely identify with, says Macalintal. Huppert portrays a once-promising talent-show discovery who now works in a meat factory.

Macalintal observes that the film’s protagonists “represent” two worlds that Filipinos are enamored with—entertainment and sports.

Complex problems that confront modern society—particularly, urban centers—are analyzed in the entries of Austria (Hüseyin Tabak’s “Your Beauty is Worth Nothing”) and the United Kingdom (Shola Amoo’s “A Moving Image”).

“We wanted to feature a film that shows contemporary Britain and tackles issues that are also relevant in the Philippines,” relates Malaya del Rosario, head of Arts and Creative Industries of the British Council.

Released last year, UK’s entry focuses on the phenomenon of “gentrification” or the process of renovating a district so that it conforms to middle-class tastes.

“Babette’s Feast”

“A lot of cities are experiencing gentrification today,” observes Del Rosario. “Rapid economic growth in cities like Metro Manila results in other social concerns: congestion, lack of public and livable spaces, and residents being displaced from their own neighborhoods due to the influx of new wealth.”

Produced in 2012, the Austrian film similarly dissects an urgent global subject: immigration and its impact on the youth.

“We often forget how traumatic it can be for children to move into a foreign country, where language and cultural barriers prevent them from living a full life,” remarks Zelpha Marie Bombais, cultural officer of the Austrian embassy.

The film seeks to “remind adults to be careful not to make the world less suitable for raising the future generation, by taking away their sense of belongingness and hope.”

Milani asserts that festivals like Cine Europa give viewers a “glimpse … of the richness” of Europe’s “cultural and artistic diversity.”

“The world is getting smaller,” Bombais states. “It is in our interest to see what other countries consider to be important and relevant. This understanding is crucial, especially now that major conflicts arise from our stubborn emphasis on differences rather than similarities.”

Works by Filipino filmmakers, led by Brillante Ma Mendoza and Lav Diaz, are showcased in Cine Europa, as well.

Two of Mendoza’s recent short films made for TV5 (“Kadaungan” and “Everlasting”) will be screened tomorrow. The showing of Petersen Vargas’ “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” is set on Sept. 23. Diaz’s Locarno-winning “Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon” is scheduled on Sept. 24.

Making its debut on Sept. 24 is a work-in-progress—the documentary “Journeyman Finds a Home.” The docu tells the story of Philippine Azkals’ Simone Rota, who was adopted by an Italian couple as a child. A forum with filmmakers Albert Almendralejo, Maricel Cariaga and Clodualdo del Mundo Jr. follows after the screening.

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