The 2014 SUBTITLE European Film Festival kicks off in Kilkenny tomorrow, running until Sunday 30 November. During the week, lovers of European film will be spoiled for choice with Cleere’s, Set Theatre and the Cinemobile hosting screenings through to Sunday evening.
To help you get started, we’ve picked out ten movies to catch over the course of the week
1. Two Days, One Night (Monday)
Set Theatre, 7pm, €5
Belgium’s most celebrated filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne unite with France’s biggest film star, Marion Cotillard, in this exceptionally powerful drama. Cotillard plays a worker who faces the axe from her job so that her colleagues can benefit from the extra savings and she has precisely two days to change their minds. But of course, as with all the best dramas, there are stark, difficult and morally complex choices at play as the film plays out its dilemmas with all the intensity of a modern day thriller. Cotillard is on record as saying how much she wanted to work with the Dardenne brothers and she has responded in some style with an extraordinary performance in the central role of Sandra.
2. A Coffee In Berlin (Tuesday)
Set Theatre, 8pm, €5
This is an absolute gem of a satire / comedy / tragicomedy from first-time German director Jan Ole Gerster. Tom Schilling plays the role of Nico Fischer, a college drop-out, trudging the streets of Berlin open to any kind of distraction which might help him put off confronting big life issues that follow adolescence. On the evidence of this film, some critics have likened Gerster to a young Woody Allen; but it is the hapless, unselfconscious quality of his hero, together with the gentle way he develops his satire, which marks him out as a unique voice. Schilling is a superb actor, instantly empathetic and not surprisingly this performance won him a hatful of awards. Picture is in black and white and the 88 minutes slides by as slyly as the film itself. Highly recommended.
3. Of Horses And Men (Wednesday)
Cinemobile, 6pm, FREE (Tickets Required)
Yet another offbeat quirky offering from Iceland where the horse and human share equal billing in a film which reflects our fascination and reliance on our equine cousins. Writer and director Benedikt Erlingsson uses the beautiful set of landscapes as a vast singular backdrop to contrast the quiet dignified affection of horses with the irrational, messy and inconclusive nature of human attraction. This is the sort of picture that defines a new generation of original filmmakers from Iceland.
4. We Are The Best (Wednesday)
Cleere’s, 9.15pm, €7
Swedish director Lukas Moodysson is back with a bang with his latest morality tale, We Are The Best!, a terrific feel-good film set in the 1980s. He’s assembled a brilliant cast, especially the leads, who deliver remarkable debut performances. Ignored by their parents, three kids decide to set up a punk band, despite not owning any instruments and being told that ‘punk is dead’. As with his film Together, Moodysson perfectly captures the indulgences, excitement and moral confusion that characterised the early 80s. It is a wonderful picture, unsentimental but incredibly warm – highly recommended if you missed its release earlier in the year.
5. The Deep (Thursday)
Cleere’s, 1pm, €5
This film is based on the incredible true story of Guolaugur Frioþórsson, the sole survivor of a fishing accident in 1984 off the south coast of Iceland. Frioþórsson swam for over 5 hours in freezing cold waters, but bizarrely only showed mild symptoms of hypothermia, when he finally reached a hospital. His remarkable survival and exceptional physiology provides the context for a film which pits human feelings of loneliness and guilt against the world wide fame, which he attracted. Director Baltasar Kormákur draws out a beautifully understated performance from his leading man (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and the cinematography is stunning; there is one scene in the film that is so full of danger, it is worth the price of admission alone. Icelandic entry for the 2013 Foreign Language Oscar.
6. Three Many Weddings (Friday)
Cleere’s, 7.15pm, €8
Spain’s biggest box office hit of 2013, this is a full-on comedy romp with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Imna Cuesta (Cousinhood) plays lab technician, Ruth who, after being dumped by her most recent boyfriend, is invited to three weddings of ex-boyfriends. Ruth is determined to turn up, but not alone and to that end she brings new intern (hunky Martiño Rivas) as her partner. Each of the weddings brings its own set of outrageous challenges, forcing Ruth to figure out what kind of life partner she really wants. Cuesta really shines in her first comedy role.
7. Heart Of A Lion (Saturday)
Cinemobile, 7.45pm, €10
One of the most talked-about films at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, Dome Karukoski’s film propelled him into Variety’s Top 10 Directors To Watch and attracted worldwide attention. It is the story of a Finnish white supremacist who finds his prejudices challenged when he falls in love with a woman who has a bi-racial child. The trademark of Karukoski is his ability to infuse comedy into very big, serious ideas and this drama is no different. The performances are terrific all round with all three leading actors in Kilkenny last year. Special mention for Jasper Pääkkönen whose turn as Haari won him Best Supporting Actor at the Finnish Film Awards.
8. The Great Beauty (Saturday)
Set Theatre, 3pm, €8
For anyone who loves cinema and hasn’t yet watched this picture, The Great Beauty is a definite must-see. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film last year, it is written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino and centres on contemporary Rome as seen through the eyes of ‘Jep Gambardella’, a charming, self-absorbed and ageing socialite who once wrote a successful novel in his twenties. Jep seems happy to drift contentedly towards mortality, when a chance meeting dramatically changes this mindset and reignites a passion in him to re-examine his connection with the city and to look again at the challenging issues of aging, legacy, beauty and creativity. This movie has critics comparing Sorrentino to Fellini. Come and see why.
9. A Royal Affair (Sunday)
Cleere’s, 3pm, €8
Truth About Men’s Nikolaj Arcel is an incredibly talented and versatile Danish director and this lavish historical drama was shortlisted for both a Best Foreign Language Academy Award in 2012 and a Golden Globe to boot. It features wonderful performances from Danish hero, Mads Mikkelsen, together with rising star Alicia Vikander (Pure) and newcomer Mikkel Følsgaard, who won Best Actor at the Berlin Film Festival for his portrayal of King Christian VII. This film is a treat for the eyes and ears and is highly recommended for anyone who missed it in the cinema.
10. The Tribe (Sunday)
Cinemobile, 8pm, €8. Contains explicit sexual content
This is one of the most raw, disturbing and compelling dramas you could imagine. Winner of the Grand Prix in Cannes this year, The Tribe is set in an institution for young deaf offenders, and the film opens with a new arrival on his first day. However, there are no words or subtitles throughout the film; it is an extraordinary and quite brilliant conceit as it shows how much of our communication is elemental. It opens the mind because the ears aren’t working. Masterfully directed by Ukrainian director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, this is a not a film for the faint-hearted, and there are several scenes that will never leave you; but it is outstanding original cinema, dealing with big, everyday issues, universal in too many countries. A remarkable picture.
You can grab your tickets from SUBTITLEfest.com or hit the box office on John Street in Kilkenny to pick up tickets in person. Check out the full festival programme here as well in our SUBTITLE section.
If you’re heading along to any of the movies showing this week, we’d love to know what you think as well. Drop a comment below or tweet us – @sokilkenny.