The European Union might be teetering on the brink of collapse politically, but culturally it’s still presenting a united front. EU Film Days, a showcase of movies from Portugal to Lithuania, Finland to Greece, is entering its sixth year in Japan, with daily screenings throughout the rainy season at the National Film Center in Tokyo and The Museum of Kyoto. The movies date from 2011 through 2016, and with few exceptions have not been released in Japan; many have English as well as Japanese subtitles.
Much of this is festival-oriented fare, which means that when gleaning the limited reviews and comments to be found, the most commonly encountered adjective is “slow.” That’s probably true of the intriguingly Ozu-influenced Romanian film “The Japanese Dog” or Euro-pudding “Imagine,” but there are certainly exceptions, like the CGI-heavy 17th-century Dutch naval epic “Admiral” or Danish suspense flick “The Absent One,” which was that country’s biggest domestic hit ever.
My own short-list of movies to check out includes: “The Ardennes,” a Belgian thriller about crime and consequences starring Veerle Baetens, who gave such a memorable performance in “The Broken Circle Breakdown”; “We Are Young, We Are Strong,” a timely German film on mob violence against Vietnamese refugees in 1992, which stars Jonas Nay from Cold War spy series “Deutschland ’83”; “Liza The Fox Fairy,” which has won many favorable comparisons to “Amelie,” and features a heroine enraptured by Showa Era (1926-1989) kayōkyoku pop music; and the visually bold and mysterious Slovak film “The Tree (Drevo),” which seems to occupy some interzone between Michael Haneke and Terrence Malik. Worth a minute to catch the trailers on YouTube.
For more information, visit eufilmdays.jp/en.
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