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EFF2019 – Film recommendations, handpicked for all our readers

Tell me what kind of films you love, so I know what films to recommend from the 2019 European Film Festival program.

This year, European Film Festival has a lot of good titles in the program, that will suit all tastes – so many you don’t even know which ones to choose. The 23rd edition (happening right now, while writing this article) takes place in 5 cities – Bucharest, Chisinau, Ramnicu Valcea, Targu Mures and Sibiu.

And because we didn’t know what to recommend so quickly out of such a diverse program, we came with the idea of making a film fan profile for each city where the festival takes place. We used our imagination, and divided the titles into film preferences. But no worries, we are all different, and each of us can fit in more than one “typology”, and the good part is that the films will be screened in more than one city – so you will have where to choose from, no doubt about that!

Whether you like dramas, black comedies, documentary films, or if you’re such a busy man that you’re happy with any recommendation, as long as it’s a good one, then read what we have to recommend down below:

BUCHAREST (June 11th-23rd)

Profile: Tired, running around between 3 jobs, doesn’t have much free time but when does,  sleeping is prefered. Likes Bucharest, but likes even more to travel and dreams of moving out of the country as soon as possible. Would have time to see only one film at EFF this year.

Favourite quote: “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

  • Julia / Júlia ist (Spain) – Julia, a young architecture student from Barcelona, decides to take an Erasmus year in Berlin. This is how, without much consideration, Julia leaves her parents’ home for the first time in her life. Full of expectancies and lacking life experience, Julia finds herself lost in a cold and grey Berlin, realizing that she does n’t know herself as well as she thought and has no idea what she wants to do with her future.
  • Ministarstvoljubavi / Ministry of Love (Croatia) – Krešo, a hapless biologist-turned-bureaucrat, lands the least desirable government job in Croatia: spying on war widows in order to cut off their pensions should they find new partners. But what his bosses, including his father-in-law, don’t know is that he just may be romance’s unlikeliest champion.
  • Happy (Germany) – When her almost retired father regularly flies to Thailand to enjoy the company of women Carolin’s age, his daughter is understandably embarrassed. But things are getting serious: Dieter has been in a stable relationship with Tukta for three years now. The wedding is looming. Is this love, as Dieter believes? Or is it more of a “business”, which is how his film-director daughter Carolin sees the relationship?

The complete program for Bucharest can be found here.


CHISINAU (June 21st-23rd)

Profile: Loves European films, whether they are German, Italian, Hungarian or Bulgarian. This year at the festival, would like to watch all the Romanian films selected in the program.

Favourite quote: “Everything I learned, I learned from the movies.” – Audrey Hepburn

  • Being Romanian: a Family Journal (Romania) – The story of millions of Romanians who have ended up living between these borders and having to stand each other: just the way things happen in every large family. This is a journey through space and time, where family bridges the gap between every moment that has united us or torn us apart.
  • One and a Half Prince (Romania) – The film follows the story of three old-age friends who fail, for various reasons, to have a family. As a solution against loneliness, Iris, Marius and Istvan choose to live together for a while in a rented apartment in Bucharest. When Iris falls in love with a Hungarian writer in Transylvania, the “happy family” is in danger of collapsing and their adventure almost comes to an end.
  • Parking (Romania) – The film tells the story of Adrian, a Romanian poet who immigrates illegally to Spain in 2002, dreaming of a better life. Once in Córdoba, he gets a job as a night guard in a car park and spends his days hiding from authorities. Adrian’s life changes forever when he meets Maria, a bass player in a jazz band. His journey in search of great love will turn into a surprising story, full of challenges.

The complete program for Chisinau can be found here.


RAMNICU VALCEA (June 21st-23rd)

Profile: Watches comedies, but doesn’t find everything to be funny. Likes black humor filled with deep meanings. When finding a film to his liking, watching it 10 times is more than likely, especially if it’s a good comedy.

Favourite quote: “It was two hundred dollars per capita. If per capita was a problem, decapita could be arranged” –Terry Pratchett

  • Stebuklas / Miracle (Lithuania) – It is 1992 and Lithuania has shifted from communism to capitalism, leaving the small collective pig farm managed by Irena, in dire straits. Irena struggles to keep the farm and her workers afloat when a handsome American, Bernardas, arrives pledging to save the struggling enterprise and turns Irena‘s family life and routine of the village upside-down. As Irena begins to fall for his charms, she realizes that his intentions may not be entirely innocent…
  • Non Ci Resta Che Il Crimine/ All You Need Is Crime (Italy) – To make ends meet, three old friends think up a “vintage criminal tour” in order to check out the crime scenes of the ruthless Magliana Gang during the 80s. The idea, they are convinced, will be a gold mine. But, due to an unpredictable trick of fate, they are suddenly thrown back into the 80s and find themselves face-to-face with the real members of the gang and a volcanic dancer who threatens to mess things up even further. Will the three friends be able to survive the gang and go back to their present?
  • Ministarstvoljubavi / Ministry of Love (Croatia) – Krešo, a hapless biologist-turned-bureaucrat, lands the least desirable government job in Croatia: spying on war widows in order to cut off their pensions should they find new partners. But what his bosses, including his father-in-law, don’t know is that he just may be romance’s unlikeliest champion.

The complete program for Ramnicu Valcea can be found here.


TARGU MURES (June 21st-23rd)

Profile: Reads all the articles that seem interesting, and loves to know things from as many fields as possible. Would always watch a biography or a documentary film, as long as there’s something new to learn from it.

Favourite quote: “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” ― Socrates

  • My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (Ireland) – Based on the story of Christy Brown, this highly acclaimed film depicts his struggle for a normal life. Born with cerebral palsy into a poor, working-class Irish family, Christy was able only to control movement in his left foot and to speak in guttural sounds. With the help of his strong-willed and dedicated family and his own sheer courage and determination, Christy not only learns to grapple with life’s simple physical tasks and complex psychological pains, but he also develops into a brilliant painter, poet and author.
  • McQueen (Great Britain) – A personal look at the extraordinary life, career and artistry of Alexander McQueen. Through exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music, McQueen is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary.
  • Timebox (Romania) – Ioan-Matei Agapi, a charismatic documentary filmmaker in his 80’s from Iași, Romania, owns a unique collection of 16mm films documenting almost fifty years of the city’s history. His daughter, also a filmmaker, has decided to make a film about her father’s impressive archives. In the unconventional surroundings of his old apartment, he reminisces about the past until one day, when Ioan is informed by a public officer that he must leave or be evicted from the apartment where he has spent 40 years. Ioan’s years of work suddenly transform into a huge burden, and the film unexpectedly changes into drama in which conflicts with city officials reveal old and hidden conflicts within the family.

The complete program for Targu Mures can be found here.


SIBIU (June 28th-30th)

Profile: Likes dramas, but not just any drama – those dramas that trouble you and make you think of them three days after you watched them. If they also have a historical or political part, even better.

Favourite quote: “Some of these things are true and some of them lies. But they are all good stories.” – Hilary Mantel

  • El reino / The Realm (Spain/France) – Manuel Gómez Vidal is a beloved politician in his region: he enjoys a good social position, has a loving family, friends everywhere and plenty of natural charisma. He is also a corrupt man who has been enriching himself with public funds for years. After attempting to cover up for an associate, Manuel is left exposed. To his surprise, the Party’s members seek to place the blame for the entire plot on his shoulders. But he will not surrender. How far is a person willing to go in order to hold on to power?
  • La douleur / Memoir of War (France/Belgium) – It’s 1944 Nazi-occupied France, and Marguerite is an active Resistance member along with husband Robert Antelme and a band of fellow subversives. When Antelme is deported to Dachau by the Gestapo, she becomes friendly with French Nazi collaborator Rabier to learn of her husband’s whereabouts. But as the months wear on with no news of her husband, Marguerite must begin the process of confronting the unimaginable.
  • Lazzaro Felice / Happy as Lazzaro (Italy) – This is the tale of a meeting between Lazzaro, a young peasant so good that he is often mistaken for simple-minded, and Tancredi, a young nobleman cursed by his imagination. Life in their isolated pastoral village Inviolata is dominated by the terrible Marchesa Alfonsina de Luna, the queen of cigarettes. A loyal bond is sealed when Tancredi asks Lazzaro to help him orchestrate his own kidnapping. This strange and improbable alliance is a revelation for Lazzaro. A friendship so precious that it will travel in time and transport Lazzaro in search of Tancredi.

The complete program for Sibiu can be found here.

In the end, I will only tell you this: I’m sure that no one in this world fits into only one of the categories described above. For example, I like comedies but only on certain times of the year, when I find life rather pink (so, hardly ever), other than that I would take a good drama at any hour of the day or night. I need to find the patience to watch a documentary or a biography film, but I like them just as much. Romantic movies, definitely not my favourite, but who knows, maybe I’d like to see one at EFF 2019 and remember that it’s not so bad as I recall it. So I think I’ve rather recommended films depending on the mood you are in – and I hope you’ll find the article helpful.

An article by Romina Banu

Translation by Andreea Toader

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