After cancelling their 2020 edition due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) makes a triumphant return this May, with its largest lineup of films yet, and featuring brand new venue partner The Projector.
“More than ever, this is an important festival, as the pandemic continues to impact us globally. It represents the revival of arts sector, and also offer glimpse of Europe through the lens of cinema, in a time where travelling is still a challenge.”Barbara Plinkert, Ambassador of the European Union to Singapore
Presented by the European Union (EU) Delegation to Singapore, a total of 23 films from across Europe will be presented at this year’s festival. “Over the last thirty years, the festival has played a strong role in promoting cultural exchange, not only bringing more of European culture to Singapore, but also as a way to shape and strengthen the long-lasting ties with Singapore’s art and film scene, and our partners,” says Barbara Plinkert, Ambassador of the European Union to Singapore. “More than ever, this is an important festival, as the pandemic continues to impact us globally. It represents the revival of arts sector, and also offer glimpse of Europe through the lens of cinema, in a time where travelling is still a challenge. We’re happy to present 23 films from 23 countries over this extended period of two weeks. The films may come from specific countries, but are all representative of our shared EU cultural heritage under this one European umbrella.”
Now in its 30th edition, the festival will open on 6th May with Parque Mayer from Portugal, the country holding the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Set in Lisbon in the 1930s, the film follows a theatre in Parque Mayer, during rehearsals for a new variety show, following all the backstage drama, and the constant battle against censorship, accompanied by skilful attempts to circumvent it.
“After working here at the EU for five years, it’s an honour to have the opportunity to have Portugal present the opening film for this year’s festival,” says António Teixeira, Portugal’s Deputy Head of Mission.
“It is a landmark year, and we are indeed pleased to show Singapore our wonderful film. Director António-Pedro Vasconcelos is considered a veteran of Portuguese cinema, and we see so many generations of actors cast in this film, including both familiar faces and new talents. It’s very reminiscent of Hollywood, where you see this young girl leaving her village to achieve her dreams in Lisbon. And it’s also representative of how musicals can deliver such strong messages through its humour and music. And in this time of COVID-19, we could all use a little escapism with this film, one that I’m sure audiences will connect with.”
The festival will close on 23rd May with Finland’s Master Cheng. Directed by Mika Kaurismäki, the film follows a widowed Chinese chef as he travels with his son to a remote Finnish village to connect with an old Finnish friend he once met in Shanghai. In addition, the festival will also be reuniting with longstanding partners, the Ngee Ann Polytechnic School of Film and Media Studies, by presenting a selection of student films as part of the festival.
“The EUFF offers a unique platform to showcase young, emerging Singaporean filmmakers alongside more established European filmmakers, something that has always been such a strong feature of the festival,” says Ambassador Plinkert. “It offers filmmakers an opportunity to connect and reach out out new, larger audiences, and it’s heartening to see how alumni of the programme have had their shorts featured in other festivals in Europe, essentially acting as a launchpad for these filmmakers.”
“It is no small feat to be a 30-year festival, and to think of how much change it’s seen since its beginnings. The EU’s member states have only continued to grow, and the festival itself has gone from multipurpose spaces, where we had to bring in our own projectors, to the biggest film festival in Singapore’s calendar today.”Kenneth Tan, Chairman of EUFF partner Singapore Film Society
“Perhaps it is so significant because you encapsulate so much of the world in one festival, alongside how for Singapore, our DNA is practically intertwined with international relations,” adds Kenneth. “There is so much diversity represented in this year’s festival, and film remains one of most popular platforms for entertainment, enjoyment and cultural exchange, allowing for a greater audience. It’s a source of comfort that the festival is back from its hiatus, and you’ll see everyone from toddlers to elders on screen, period dramas and modern settings, stories based on real life to pure narrative fiction, animation to war epics to musical theatre to documentaries, and plenty of award-nominated films. And it’s also the first film festival here to be fully, physically in cinemas since the pandemic with so many films.”
“One year on, we’re back, and even as no stranger to film fests and working with the respective embassies of countries, this marks the biggest festival yet we’ll be hosting. It’s a milestone in our 6 year history, and coming out of circuit breaker to so much strong community support, it’s evidence that people are hungry for new content and open for more diverse, independent films.”Prashant Somosundram, General Manager at The Projector
The films will play at independent cinema The Projector, marking the first time the venue is collaborating with the festival. “It was a struggle last year for the cinemas, and we were all scrambling to maintain our manpower,” says Prashant Somosundram, General Manager at The Projector. “One year on, we’re back, and even as no stranger to film fests and working with the respective embassies of countries, this marks the biggest festival yet we’ll be hosting. It’s a milestone in our 6 year history, and coming out of circuit breaker to so much strong community support, it’s evidence that people are hungry for new content and open for more diverse, independent films. Many of these films will be receiving premieres, and we’re also working with embassies to offer drinks and food specific to the country of origin for the films. It’s a natural progression for The Projector’s growth, and we’re very excited to share The Projector’s focus on turning a film into an experience, and we hope to welcome our audiences into the cinema for the festival soon.”
“In 2017, we moved from commercial venues to National Gallery Singapore, and now, in 2021, by partnering with The Projector, yet another new phase in the festival’s development,” adds Ambassador Plinkert. “This signifies inviting people to the heart of Singapore independent cinema, and reaching out to an even broader audience of cinephiles, firmly establishing EUFF as a key arts and cultural event in Singapore. I hope to see the cinemas filled.”
The 2021 European Union Film Festival runs from 6th to 23rd May 2021. Tickets and more information available here