HIFF: EuroCinema screens eight films
BY CHRISTINA GERHARDT / Special to the Star-Advertiser
The 2011 Hawaii International Film Festival thwarts stereotypes of European cinema as solely art house and heady fare with the eight films in its second annual EuroCinema Hawaii Film Festival.
EuroCinema Hawaii Film Festival 2011
Presented by Luxury Row
» Where: Regal Dole Cannery 18 Theatres
The hilarious comedy “The Fairy” (2011, Belgium) draws on slapstick humor to tell a story that evokes Chaplin and Keaton’s silent film comedies of the early 20th century. Police, for example, appear in a manner reminiscent of the Keystone Kops. The film’s art direction nods to French filmmaker Jacques Tati, renowned for his comedies.
“The Fairy” is co-directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy, who also star. The trio previously directed comedies such as “Iceberg” (2005) and “Rumba” (2008).
The film opens in the port city of Le Havre, as a young woman, Fiona (Gordon), arrives at a hotel and announces to the night worker, Dom (Abel), that she is a fairy and can grant him three wishes. For all the comedy, the film has a few darker moments to balance the levity.
“Le Havre” (2011, Finland, France, Germany), directed by Aki Kaurismäki, is a must-see. The part comedy, part drama engages pressing contemporary issues as it tells the story of Marcel Marx (André Wilms) and his wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen), who have retreated to the city to live a quiet life. The arrival of Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), an adolescent refugee from Africa, which coincides with Arletty’s declining health, upends Marcel’s calm life and forces him to reconsider his priorities.
The film examines the issues facing political, economic and climate refugees and does so in a style recalling French director Jean-Pierre Melville.
“Le Havre” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where it won the International Federation of Film Critics Award, and should be a contender in the Academy Awards’ best foreign film category.
As different as they are stylistically, both “The Fairy” and “Le Havre” combine comedy with drama, as do other films in the EuroCinema section: “The Salt of Life” (2011, Italy); “The Artist” (2011, France); and even the new remastered version of Frederico Fellini’s classic “La Dolce Vita” (1960, Italy).
Most of the festival-within-a-festival’s films involve a chance encounter that sets the narrative in motion and changes the main character’s life.
“Tyrannosaur” (2011, UK), although lacking in comic relief, takes off when two seemingly different characters randomly meet. The film won three awards at the Sundance Film Festival. A chance encounter also sets the narrative in motion in “The Kid with a Bike” (2011, Belgium, France, Italy), a drama about a young boy left in a children’s home who tries to find his father. Like the other EuroCinema offerings, this one explores contemporary social problems.
The highlight of this year’s EuroCinema slate is “We Need to Talk about Kevin” (2011, UK), by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay. After her teenage-aged son, Kevin, goes on a killing spree, Eva (Tilda Swinton) has to take an honest look at her son and consider whether her resentment of the boy and her estranged husband (John C. Reilly) might have in shaped her son’s behavior.
The film premiered at Cannes and is based on Lionel Shriver’s epistolary novel of the same title.
Lastly, although not officially part of the EuroCinema lineup, Wim Wenders’ documentary “Pina” (2011, Germany) is the HIFF centerpiece film. It presents the work of legendary German dancer Pina Bausch, who died unexpectedly prior to the film’s release. Bausch, a longtime friend of Wenders, performs four of her pieces, which are complemented by interviews. She was known for reigniting an interest in Tanztheater, an expressionist dance developed in Germany during the Weimar era (1918-1933).
The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and should be another contender for best foreign film at the Academy Awards.
Christina Gerhardt is assistant professor of German at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has also written about film for Cinema Journal, Film Quarterly, and Screen.
» “The Fairy,” 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 and 5:15 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23
» “Le Havre,” 5:15 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16 and 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18
» “The Salt of Life,” 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 and 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17
» “The Artist,” 8:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17
» “La Dolce Vita,” 7:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16
» “Tyrannosaur,” 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19
» “The Kid with a Bike,” 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18 and 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19
» “We Need to Talk about Kevin,” 9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 16
» “Pina 3D,” 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19
Click here for more coverage of the 2011 Hawaii International Film Festival.