The European Film Festival and responding to life's disruptive changes

Tomasz Kot plays Wiktor in Pawel Pawlikowski's Cold War (Supplied)

Tomasz Kot plays Wiktor in Pawel Pawlikowski's Cold War (Supplied)

The 6th edition of the European Film Festival, running until December 8, is screening films at Cinema Nouveau theatres in the three cities of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. In this interview film festival director Peter Rorvik sheds light on his curatorial vision and some of the themes emerging from the festival. 

What was your curatorial vision for the festival this year and what informed it?

First and foremost it was to find strong, meaningful films from the participating member states; recent 2019 or 2018 productions that spoke to filmmaking strengths in the given country, and then to see what thematic threads might emerge. What came out were issue-based, character-driven stories about disruption and change.
A significant percentage of the films feature powerful performances by women, holding their lives together under forces of change, struggling against change, or struggling for change. But it’s not a tickbox thing, it’s because these are powerful stories.

From the films I have seen it would seem displacement and disorientation are major themes in this year’s festival? Migration was covered, to an extent, in the last festival. What would say of the range of themes in this selection of films and does a coherent, contemporary story of Europe begin to emerge?

We live in a very disrupted world. Systems are changing at an exponential rate in Europe and elsewhere. Displacement and disorientation are symptoms of disruption, they are also contributing causes of disruption. Against these background contexts, the films are about how people respond to the disruptive changes they are experiencing, it’s about a search for self and meaning, that’s a core thread running through the films of this year’s festival. Importantly, these stories are not exclusively applicable to the complexities of Europe, they raise questions and make statements that go beyond national borders, and this was an intentional way of building touchpoints to local contexts in Africa.

What are the most exciting selections for you and why?

While it is gratifying to have secured films that have been selected by their countries for the Academy Awards in 2020, it is hard to choose personal favourites, each of them has something going for it. Lots of important reflections for South Africa in the whistleblowing story of Official Secrets, and in Les Miserables where we see what can happen when communities are not treated with requisite respect, youth in particular.  System Crasher is intense but riveting, while Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a superbly crafted masterpiece of auteur cinema.

For information on screenings and schedules, please visit https://www.eurofilmfest.co.za/

Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo studied journalism at Durban's ML Sultan Technikon before working at Independent Newspapers from 2000 to 2003. In 2005, he joined the Mail & Guardian's internship programme and later worked as a reporter at the paper between 2006 and 2008, before working as a researcher. He was the inaugural Eugene Saldanha Fellow in 2011. Read more from Kwanele Sosibo

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