The Cinema of Europe’s Small Nations is celebrating the cinematic gems from the continent’s smaller nations in a series of screenings in talks at Studio 74 at the Exeter Phoenix throughout November.
Films from Scotland, Wales, Belgium and Romania are the focus for the events which sees short premieres screened prior to talks from leading academics in each field and/or from industry professionals. This will then be followed by a curated feature film.
The series kicked off with the Belgian feature Black (tagged as the ‘new La Haine’) on Wednesday November 2, with the Welsh The Library Suicides (Wednesday, November 9); the Scottish The Inaccessible Pinnacle (Wednesday, November 16); and the Romanian Child’s Pose (Wednesday, November 23) to follow. Here’s more about the features.
In terms of shorts, Sugar will screening on Wednesday, November 9, with A Boy’s Life (November 16), and Shrines to follow. More about the shorts.
The Cinema of Europe’s Small Nations is being curated by Dr Jamie Steele, Associate Lecturer in Film at Bath Spa University and University of Bristol. We caught up with Jamie and asked how the Cinema of Europe’s Small Nations came to be.
What inspired you to showcase the cinemas of Europe’s small nations, and how did you go about making the selections?
‘The event -Cinemas of Europe’s Small Nations -stems from my own research in French-language Belgian cinema. These films often struggle to attract audiences both domestically and internationally,’ he said.
‘For instance, the film Black (2015) had a complex cinematic release (due to the ‘current context’ in the words of the French distributor), so I felt that it was important for an audience to view the film in a cinema (as opposed to online or on DVD).
‘The intention was, therefore, to provide a platform to films that would otherwise have limited distribution, as well as supporting young, emerging filmmaking talent from cinematically small nations.
‘The festival idea also served as an opportunity to showcase films produced in the UK that are not articulated in English, foregrounding the UK’s ‘minor’ languages.
‘The Library Suicides is in Welsh and Seachd -The Inaccessible Pinnacle in Scottish Gaelic. As a result, the event, hopefully, enables the audience to understand and to celebrate the UK’s cultural and linguistic diversity (in the case for the weeks focused on Wales and Scotland).
‘The feature-length films were selected after considering critical reviews of the films, discussions with speakers as to what constituted a representative film (of a given country) and a film’s limited distribution at the time of initial release.
‘The question of language also factored heavily in the decision, as it was my intention to showcase linguistic diversity and uncovering films that draw on ‘minority’ cultures and languages (in the UK) and diasporic communities that are often overlooked/ absent in Belgian cinema,” said Jamie.
‘The short films are, however, a different case in point. These shorts were submitted over a three-month period via Film Freeway (an online film festival platform).
“To take one example, I had 47 submissions for Belgium alone, and I selected The Unexpected Taste of Apple as its themes and issues cohered with contemporaneous French-language Belgian filmmaking at the present time. For instance, it dealt with themes such as the loss of innocence.’
The event takes place every Wednesday during November to Wednesday November 23.
The Library Suicides (Wales) (November 9) will be introduced by Dr Kate Woodward from Aberystwyth University. Seachd -The Inaccessible Pinnacle (Scotland) (November 16) will have an introduction by the filmmaker Simon Miller, before concluding with short films from Romania and the award-winning film Child’s Pose (November 23).
Here’s the full line up of Cinema of Europe’s Small Nations (yes, we’re including what you missed).
Wednesday 2nd November 2016:
Short Film: The Unexpected Taste of Apple (Jonas Bloquet) – with short video introduction by the filmmaker
Feature film: BLACK
With introduction by Dr Jamie Steele, Bath Spa University/ University of Bristol.
Dir. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Belgium, 95 mins, 2015, subtitled.
This feature film by second-generation Moroccan-Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah looks at two rival gangs in the gritty Brussels suburb, Molenbeek. Black engages with diasporic communities that are often overlooked in French-language Belgian cinema, which has been dominated by filmmakers from the south of the country (such as the Dardennes). As a result, Black captures a unique picture of Belgium and its bilingual capital city. Steve Rose’s The Guardian film review labeled Black the ‘new La Haine’, teasing out comparisons with Kassovitz’s 1995 breakthrough masterpiece of youthful vibrancy and hip-hop music set on the margins of a French-speaking capital city. Black has received awards at Toronto International Film Festival and Film Fest Gent as well as screening at festivals designed to celebrate ‘interculturality’.
Wednesday 9th November 2016:
Y LLYFRGELL (THE LIBRARY SUICIDES)
Introduction by Dr Kate Woodward, Lecturer in Film Studies, Aberystwyth University.
Dir. Euros Lyn, Wales, 87 mins, 2016, subtitled
When great writer Elena Wdig commits suicide, her last words suggest that her biographer Eben Prydderch murdered her. Set against the backdrop of the iconic National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, twin librarians, Nan and Ana, start a murderous night shift to avenge the death of their mother. Bloody revenge stalks the labyrinthine corridors of the National Library.
Wednesday 16 November 2016:
SEACHD -THE INACCESSIBLE PINNACLE
Introduction by the filmmaker Simon Miller.
Dir. Simon Miller, Scotland, 100 mins, 2007, subtitled.
A poetic and lyrical ode to Scottish Gaelic storytelling, Seachd -The Inaccessible Pinnacle presents a young man’s quest for the truth behind the death of his parents and his grandfather’s stories.
Beautifully composed and crafted images of the Scottish landscape permeate the action that unfolds in the past, the present and the mythical. Shot with a HD camera, Seachd brilliantly captures a misty and mysterious lsle of Skye that has stories to tell. These ancient Scottish Gaelic stories recite a history of poisoned lovers, revenge, shipwrecked sailors, and Spanish Gold. The boyhood journey leads Angus to the peak of one of Scotland’s most treacherous mountains, the title’s Inaccessible Pinnacle. Seachd is the first Scottish Gaelic feature film, shining a light on Scottish Gaelic culture and local, amateur talent.
Wednesday 23 November 2016:
Dir. Calin Peter Netzer, Romania, 112 mins, 2013, subtitled.
A winner of the Golden Bear at Berlinale in 2013 and an official selection for Romania at the Oscars, Child’s Pose wonderfully captures corruption in Romanian society post-CeauÈ™escu. As a result, this film follows in an engagingand revealing tradition of filmmaking that has emerged from Romania since at least The Death of Mr Lazarescu and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days in the mid-2000s.
A tragic car accident leads to a dramatic change in the disaffected relationship between mother and son. 60-year old Cornelia and her 34-year old son Barbu are rarely in contact until a car accident leads to the death of a child. A dominant and controlling mother, Cornelia strives to save her son from prison, thereby exposing the rotten core of the system. A stimulating and highly engaging family drama that reveals the seedy underbelly of bureaucracy and society.
â€¢ Dr. Jamie Steele has published articles on francophone Belgian cinema and is currently working on his first monograph published by Edinburgh University Press.