A message from Dr Riina Kionka the EU Ambassador to South Africa

Welcome Message

It has been a year since our first, and allow me to add, rather successful virtual European Film Festival in South Africa. We are now deep into our second year of confronting the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been difficult … everyone is affected.

The cultural sector has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic – in Europe as well as in South Africa. At the same time we have seen a renewed interest and appreciation in Arts and Culture. It is the cultural exchanges and expressions that have helped us manage lockdowns, isolation and uncertain times. This year’s European Film Festival has been inspired by overcoming difficulty and challenge. Its theme, Healing Journeys, seems rather appropriate for our times.

Given the global under-representation of women in the film industry, and given the EU commitment to gender equality and women empowerment in all walks of life, I am particularly pleased that of the 18 films in this year’s line-up, 13 have women directors.

I invite you to join me – again, if you are a repeat enthusiast – on this year’s exciting cinematic journey that promises to not only entertain, but more importantly to make one think and reflect.

Riina Kionka, European Union Ambassador to South Africa

A message from Peter Rorvik the festival co-director/curator

Peter Rorvik, Festival Co-Director/ Curator

Magdalene Reddy

Magdalene Reddy, Festival Co-director & Owner, Creative WorkZone

Festival Overview

The lived reality of most South Africans is one of hardship and challenge. A not-insignificant number of citizens have experienced trauma, be it through poverty, hunger, illness, gender-based violence, crime, income disparities, unemployment, or personal loss. All this has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and most recently, by unrest and upheaval.

It would be fair to say that South Africa is a country in need of healing.

The theme of this year’s festival, Healing Journeys, is inspired by the times we live in. A need for healing – be it mental, physical, spiritual or for that matter, societal – is vital to the human condition, to our humanity, to our existence. This applies in both South Africa and in Europe, where despite our different contexts and histories, there exists common experience, and a mutual need for healing.

The films on show will present, through the lenses of European filmmakers, a snapshot of experiences of re-establishing oneself after sometimes traumatic and possibly cathartic experiences. They deal with journeys that include organic growth, transition, and processes of self-discovery. Many include a healthy dose of humour, bringing some possibly much-needed laughter into our lives. Much of the humour is of a more cerebral nature … films that make you smile and think at the same time. There is wit and wordplay, irony and satire, situational comedy that allows us to laugh at ourselves while reflecting on social absurdities and the contradictions in our lives.

Essentially, they are stories of hope, humanity and thought-provoking intrigue, show-casing new work by some of Europe’s most accomplished filmmakers alongside exciting new talent.

Notably, within the line-up of 18 films, 13 have women directors, a deliberate response to the gender inequality that persists across so many sectors in our societies, including the film industry.

Virtually Yours

With South Africa still facing a lot of uncertainty around Covid, and following the success of last year’s online festival, the festival is again free and predominantly a virtual event. The select showcase of 18 films provides insight into what’s fresh and very new in the respective film industries of participating countries.
All the countries who participated last year are once again part of the festival: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, along with the return of Portugal. As the festival grows it is very exciting to welcome four new countries to this year’s programme: Czech Republic, Denmark, Switzerland, and Ukraine. In addition, the Special Co-Production Focus will present a film that involved no less than nine European countries and went on to earn an Oscar Nomination earlier this year.

How to watch the films

We invite you to explore the film synopses and trailers on the film pages to help shape your viewing programme. How to watch films is also outlined on the film pages – it’s a simple process.

All the films are Free for your viewing pleasure!

Film lovers are encouraged to prioritise your favourites because access will be closed once the respective viewing capacities have been reached.

Deepening the experience!

Enhance your viewing experience by tuning in to the Q&A sessions and Live Zoom panel discussions which provide an inside look into the filmmaking processes and the topics raised in the films. A programme of Filmmaker Engagements is being formulated for film schools in South Africa. We are deeply grateful to the filmmakers and special guests participating in these vital exchanges.

The festival will service a number of schools and community centres with screening and discussion programmes, the scope of which will be determined by prevailing Covid protocols.

It is our sincere hope that the film festival programme this year will strengthen our sense of society, generate thought and discussion while putting some smiles on peoples’ faces.

Peter Rorvik, Festival Co-Director/ Curator