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Films that haunt me

Monday, June 2, 2014

A bizarre, bullfighting version of the fairy tale Snow White, a macabre sociopath who can’t stand to see anyone happy, an innocent boy from the Ivory Coast who hides in a Belgian hotel, and two heartwarming old men trying to harvest a crop of tangerines in the middle of a war in Abkhazia are just a few of the indelible images from movies featured in the 18th European Film Festival, which ran from May 14-27.


Every year there is at least one unforgettable film that haunts me for the entire year. Way back in 2002 it was the Academy Award-winning German film entitled Nowhere in Africa, the story of Jettel Redlich, a Jewish woman who struggles to fit into Kenya during the 1930s and grapples unsuccessfully with the notion that she cannot return to Germany. Last year, it was the Spanish film Cell 211, which won eight Goya Awards, Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars. That nail-biting suspense didn’t let up from the first scene. 


Cell 211 was the story of Juan, a young married man who becomes trapped in a prison riot after he decided to make an impression on his boss by showing up for work a day early. The Estonian film Tangerines tops my list for 2014. This simple movie, written and directed by Zaza Urushadze, is simply stunning. Two  friends, Ivo and Markus, stay behind in their war-torn village in picturesque Abkhazia, which is fighting a war in 1992 to separate from Georgia.