By Ogova Ondego
Published May 12, 2014
The annual European Film Festival (EFF) returns to the Kenyan commercial and political capital, Nairobi, with a suitcase bursting with dramas, romances, thrillers and comedies to last 18-days starting from May 13, 2014.
Unlike previous editions, EFF, that marks its 23rd year in 2014, is set to showcase two African films funded by the European Union under its Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) programme: THE CAPTAIN OF NAKARA, a romantic comedy directed by Kenyan Bob Nyanja and starring Bernard Safari, Shirlen Wanjari and Charles Kiarie; and VIVA RIVA! , a thriller directed by Djo Tunda wa Munga of Congo-Kinshasa that starres Patsha Bay, Manie Malone and Diplome Amekindra.
Set in an imaginary country called Kwetu (‘Our Home’ in Kiswahili), THE CAPTAIN OF NAKARA is the story of a small time criminal called Muntu (‘Person’ in Kiswahili) whose dream of marrying the woman he loves triumphs over national religion—ubiquitous corruption—when he impersonates the country’s top military officer: Captain of Nakara. What is more, he even ends up being elected President of Kwetu!
VIVA RIVA!, on the other hand, is the story of an ‘operator’ called Riva whose attempts to obtain a secret cache of valuable mineral in Congo-Kinshasa brings him up against the local crime boss and his beautiful but deadly girlfriend.
Whereas the 87-minute THE CAPTAIN OF NAKARA that was made in 2012 requires Parental Guidance, the 98-minute VIVA RIVA!, made in 2010, is rated by the Kenya Film Censorship Board as suitable for viewers above 18 years.
Before I am completely carried away by the seductive excitement of the 18-day feast that runs every evening at 5.30 and 7.30 during week days and 3.00, 5.30 and 7.30 during weekends, let me hasten to add that viewers will pay Sh50 to see each film screened in the auditorium of Alliance Francaise in the Nairobi CBD.
All right. The action kicks off on May 13 at 5.30 with a 94-minute Austrian drama called ATMEN (Breathing) in which an incarcerated teenager attempts to win his freedom back by working at a local mortuary. This film, that was made in 2011, won the “Label Europa Cinemas” at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival besides being nominated for the ‘European Discovery of the Year’ at the 2011 European Film Awards. Rated GE, a repeat of the film shall be on May 24 at 7.30.
Please allow me to pinpoint some of the films whose storyline appeal to me either through familiarity, proximity or uniqueness. Just a handful of them.
Whereas the 96-minute TURQUAZE (Turquoise) by Kadir Balci of Belgium explores the lives of immigrants who find themselves torn between two lands and cultures with roots in neither, KAPRINGEN (A Hijacking) by Tobias Lindholm of Denmark is a psychological drama between the CEO of the company that owns a hijacked ship and the Somali pirates.
9 MOIS FERME (9 months stretch) by Albert Dupontel of France is an 82-minute comedy that tells the story of a morally upright judge who discovers she is pregnant by a criminal wanted for murder but no matter how hard she tries to, she just can’t remember a thing and tries to find out what could possibly have happened. Any surprise on why and how 9 MOIS FERME could have won the 2014 César Awards for Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay? The film, that is suitable for viewers above 16, screens on May 15 at 5.30 and on May 25 at 7.00.
Germany presents BARBARA, a psychological and political thriller set in 1980s East Germany about the anxiety a doctor who has applied for an exit visa from the German Democratic Republic goes through as she waits for it to go through. This film, that won the Silver Bear Award for Best Director at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in 2012 and is suitable for viewers above 16, is scheduled for screening on May 15 at 7.30 and on May 31 at 5.30.
Spain’s contribution to the festival is the multi-award winning BLANCANIEVES, a 104-minute long fantasy drama by Pablo Berger.
Set in southern Spain in 1920s and a tribute to silent films, BLANCANIEVES–Winner of the 2013 European Film Award for Best Costume Designer, the 2013 Goya Awards for Best Film, Best New Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song—is a silent movie melodrama version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It screens on May 23 and May 29 at 7.30.
United Kingdom, the country with the latest production—made in 2014—at the festival, presents a 90-minute film directed by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison. Simply titled NEXT GOAL WINS, the comedy explores the meaning of being a winner in life. NEXT GOAL WINS is rated GE (General Exhibition) and shall be shown on May 18 at 7.30 and May 25 at 5.30.
Other films in the programme include LA TETE LA PREMIERE (Headfirst) of Belgian director Amélie van Elmbt; TMAVOMODRYSVET (Dark Blue World), directed by Jan Sverák of Czech Republic; JAGTEN (The Hunt) by Thomas Vinterberg of Denmark that won the ‘Best Actor’ Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and the ‘Best Screenwriter’ Award at the 2012 European Film Awards; Brides romantic drama by Pantelis Voulgaris of Greece is a tale of love, duty and sacrifice that won the Greek State Film Awards for Best Film in 2004; CHERRY ORCHARD by MihalisKakogiannis as Michael Cacoyannis of Greece; LA GRANDE BELLAZA (The Great Beauty) romantic comedy by Paolo Sorrentino of Italy; DE MARATHON (The Marathon) by Diederick Koopal of The Netherlands; TIGRE V MESTE (Tigers in the City) by Juraj Krasnohorsky of Slovak Republic; LAS AVENTURAS DE TADEO JONES (The Adventures of Tad Jones) adventure comedy by Spanish Enrique Gato and Winner of the 2013 Goya Award for the Best Animation Film and Best New Director; HIMLENAROSKYLDIGTBLA (Behind Blue Skies) by Hannes Holm of Sweden; and LES GRANDES ONDES (Longwaves) by Lionel Baier of Switzerland.