12th Panorama of European Film: Where do we begin?
 
 
Pain and Glory (2019)
 

Since it started in 2004, the Panorama of European Film, organized by Misr International Films, has attracted an ever-expanding audience, selecting a number of recent films screening at different European festivals each year. For its 12th edition, running from November 6 to November 16, the Panorama is back with a rich menu of films screening in Alexandria, Ismailia, Daqahliya and of course, Cairo — on its two main screens: Zawya and Zamalek Cinema. Below we share our editors and film writers’ picks of films from this year’s edition, hoping to help you choose which movies to go to.

Main narrative features:

Pain and Glory

Pedro Almodovar

Spain, 2019

Pain and Glory is Almodovar’s 22nd film of Spain’s Oscar entry for this year. It is also the most autobiographical and personal film by the Spanish director. Amodovar’s unique melodramatic style is very present in the film, as well as his vivid color palette. 

Zamalek Cinema — Friday, November 8 at 7 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Saturday, November 9 at 7 pm

Adults in the Room

Costa-Gavras

France, Greece, 2019

Based on the book by the same name by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, the film recounts of Greece’s negotiations with EU institutions and the International Monetary Fund at the height of the country’s 2015 financial crisis. Gravas is also the director of the well-known political thriller Z (1969). 

Zawya (screen 1) — Tuesday, November 12 at 7 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Thursday, November 14 at 4 pm

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Céline Sciamma

France, 2019

In her latest film, winner of the Best Screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Sciamma examines the female gaze in cinema and rewrites concepts of sexual passion that are approached within the framework of patriarchy. The film presents a visual inquiry into the psychological traits of femininity.

Zawya (screen 1)  — Thursday, November 14 at 7 pm 

Sorry We Missed You

Ken Loach 

United Kingdom, France, Belgium, 2019

In his last film, Loach presents the crisis of contemporary neoliberalism through the lens on the life of a family, trying not to sink into the quicksand. Loach is a social and political activist whose films critique the impact of the economic system on the working class. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Friday, November 15 at 7 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Saturday, November 16 at 7 pm

The Truth

Hirokazu Kore-eda

 France, Japan, 2019

Despite not receiving the same critical praise as last year’s Shop Thieves, which one the Palme d’Or, The Truth, Kore-eda’s latest film, remains a remarkable act. The film tells the story of Lumir, who visits her mother’s house with her daughter and husband. The woman is a screenwriter in Paris while her husband is a television actor. Her mother has a legendary place in French cinema. Kore-eda is known for his talented directing of actors, exemplified in this film in the mother’s role played by Catherine Deneuve. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Friday, November 15 at 10 pm

Give Me Liberty  

Kirill Mikhanovsky

USA, 2019 

The low-budget film, which was screened at the Sundance Festival in the United States and later at the Cannes Film Critics Week. in the film, Vic (Mikhanovsky), a young medical transport driver in Milwaukee, is torn between his job, in which he drives patients to their various appointments, and a commitment to drive his relatives to a funeral as a riot breaks out in the city.

Zamalek Cinema — Tuesday, November 12 at 7 pm

Corpus Christi

Jan Komasa

France, Poland, 2019

In his latest film, recently shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, Komasa uses many visual references to rediscover and stitch together notions of false faith, salvation, sacrifice, curse and revenge within inter-class conflict and power structures. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Monday, November 11 at 7 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Thursday, November 14 at 10 pm

The Father

Petar Valchanov and Kristina Grozeva

Bulgaria, Greece, 2019

The Father takes place in the Bulgarian countryside in what seems to be a traditional story of a father and son confronting the loss of their wife and mother, respectively, but there are several other layers, such as the history of the town, which used to belong to the Eastern Bloc and lived for under years of communist rule. The film presents a formidable cinematic experience, especially in the exterior scenes and the comical screenwriting. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Sunday, November 10 at 7 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Tuesday, November 12 at 4 pm

X&Y

Anna Odell 

Sweden, 2019

Odell, a visual artist, presents her first feature film, which is reminiscent of some of Charlie Kaufman’s surrealist works. X&Y narrates the making a film where Odell asks Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt (both playing alternate versions of themselves), following a complex process that involves staying together in a closed studio throughout the filmmaking, each accompanied by three other actors. The actors’ relations evolve as the film’s production process faces creative and productive obstacles.

Zamalek Cinema — Sunday, November 10 at 7 pm

Zawya (screen 1) — Tuesday, November 12 at 10 pm

White White Day

Hlynur Pálmason 

Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, 2019

In his second feature film, Pálmason presents a story of an off-duty policeman in a remote Icelandic town, who suspects that his deceased wife was betraying him with someone in the same town, as he tries to pursue him throughout the film.

Zamalek Cinema — Monday, November 11 at 10 pm

Zawya (screen 2) — Friday, November 15 at 10 pm

The Traitor

Marco Bellocchio

 Italy, 2019

The film depicts the story of Sicilian mobster Tommaso Boscotta over a 30-year timeline. Boscotta’s story is extraordinary as not only he became the first member of the Sicilian mob to testify against the organization, exposing members of his organization but also some politicians with whom he had ties. Bellocchio documents an important part of modern Italian history. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Friday, November 8 at 10 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Saturday, November 9 at 7 pm

Agnes Varda retrospective

Some attribute Varda with making the first film of France’s first New Wave with her film La Pointe Courte (1955). Others disagree about Varda’s connection to the New Wave altogether and associate her more with Alain Resnais, Chris Marker and William Klein. Either way, Varda is certainly one of the most important, if not the most important, face in French cinema during the 1950s and 1960s. This year, Panorama is presenting a retrospective for Varda, screening a number of her films, who parted our world this year at 90 years of age, and after making films till the last moment of her life. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Vada par Agnes, 2019 — Saturday, November 9 at 1 pm

Zawya (screen 1) — Cléo de 5 a 7, 1962 — Monday, November 11 at 4 pm

Zawya (screen 2) — Vagabond, 1985, Wednesday — November 13 at 4 pm

Zawya (screen 1) — Les Glaneurs et les Glaneuses, 2000 — Thursday, November 14 at 1 pm

Zawya (screen 2) — Jacquot de Nantes — Friday, 15 November at 4 pm

Documentary section: 

Scheme Birds 

Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin

UK, Sweden, 2019

A documentary that plays like a narrative film (and a well-crafted one at that), Scheme Birds is a tender if not entirely pain-free coming-of-age story that follows several years in the life of Gemma, a tough but sweet teenager living in the harsh Scottish steel town of Motherwell, southeast of Glasgow. Gemma is part of a group of trouble-makers — locally referred to as “scheme birds” — including her boyfriend, Pat, and a few other friends. We are exposed to her gentler side in the scenes she shares with her grandfather and guardian, Joseph, a boxing instructor who is also a devoted pigeon fancier (her parents abandoned her in his care when she was a child). 

Zawya (screen 1) — Sunday, November 10 at 1 pm

Transnistra

Anna Eborn

Sweden, Belgium, 2019 

This delicate and unusual documentary by Swedish filmmaker Anna Eborn follows a year in the life of a group of teenagers in the mostly unrecognized republic of Transnistria, which exists between Moldova and Ukraine, and where it feels like the Soviet Union never fell. Sixteen-year-old Tanya is the center of the film, along with five male friends (all of the same age) who vie for her affection. Beautifully shot in 16mm, the film captures the group as they bathe in a lake, hang out in deserted factory buildings and plan for their future after school. With its careful orchestration, stylistic compositions and attractive characters, the film flows very much like a work of fiction, but it’s actually an interesting document of the place it portrays, where everything feels outdated, yet the kids are inseparable from their smartphones, like nearly everywhere else in the world.  

Zamalek Cinema — Thursday, November 14 at 4 pm

That Which Does Not Kill

Alex Poukie

 France, Belgium, 2019

After a screening of her first film in 2013, French director Alexe Poukine was approached by a woman who opened up to her about a lasting trauma from her past, about how she was raped three times by a man she knew. The story would later become the basis of Thou Shall Not Kill, in which a text written by the woman, Ada, recounting her experience, is read by twelve other people, who intertwine it with their different but similar experience of their own, as well as their own insights and reflections on Ada’s experience. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Wednesday, November 6 at 1 pm

Zawya (screen 2) — Tuesday, November 12 at 1 pm

The Men’s Room

Petter Sommer and Jo Vemund Svendsen

 Norway, 2018

A traditional and simple documentary film, similar to the nature of its characters and their individual stories, Men’s Room is a tale of friendship and death. The heroes of the film are a group of men over 40 who form a choir under the leadership of a man who discovers his cancer months before they are slated to warm up for a Black Sabbath concert.

Zawya (screen 2) — Saturday, November 9 at 1 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Wednesday, November 13 at 1 pm

Diego Maradona

Asif Kapadia

United Kingdom, 2019

Producer Paul Martin has called Kapadia, who directed the famous documentary Amy (Amy) about the life of famous singer Amy Winehouse, to tell him that he had obtained archival material belonging to Football legend Maradona. Together, they discovered materials about the footballer with two photographers and with his ex-wife Claudia in Buenos Aires. They ended up with 500 archival hours for the director to work on this film.

Zamalek Cinema — Saturday, November 9 at 4 pm

Lisbon Beat

Rita Maia, Vasco Viana 

Portugal, 2019

DJ and Portuguese radio presenter Rita Maia, accompanied by cinematographer Vasco Viana, set off with their first film experience in what resembles the visual composite journey through Lisbon’s musical suburbs and ghettos. The film is an effort to depict vital traces of this expansive music scene that appeared in the late 1970s during the Portuguese revolution.

Zawya (screen 2) — Monday, November 11 at 4 pm

The Disappearance of My Mother

Beniamino Barrese 

Italy, 2019

Barrese embarks on his first feature documentary, following his mother Benedetta, a revered Italian model now in her 70s.  Through the film, he hopes for her to confront her distrust of cameras and her deep desire to leave and disappear from her life in cities. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Saturday, November 9 at 4 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Monday, November 11 at 4 pm

Palace for the People

Boris Missirkov, Georgi Bogdanov 

Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, 2018

Between Moscow, Sofia, Berlin, Belgrade and Bucharest, the film takes us to countries from the Eastern Bloc in the second half of the 20th century, where ruling parties left an architectural legacy of their prowess. All five cities feature palaces intended to provide services to the people The communist era has eroded but the palaces have stayed, and so did their visitors. 

Zawya (screen 2) — Friday, November 8 at 4 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Monday, November 11 at 1 pm

Emerging directors:

Two of us

Filippo Meneghetti

France, Luxembourg, 2019

The daring film is the first feature film by Filippo Meneghetti. The audacity of the film lies not only in the story of the thorny love between two retired women but also in the tense scenarios where events sometimes hold our breaths. 

Zawya (screen 2) — Sunday, November 10 at 7 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Friday, November 15 at 10 pm

System Crasher 

Nora Fingscheidt

Germany, 2019

System Crasher is the debut feature film by German director Nora Fingscheidt. The film follows a delicate but troubled nine-year-old named Benni (an incredible performance by Helena Zengel), who suffers from an irreconcilable trauma that manifests in sporadic psychotic episodes that no one is able to deal with, from her mother to the different caretakers who try to take responsibility for her throughout the duration of the film.  

Zawya (screen 1) — Saturday, November 9 at 10 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Monday, November 11 at 7 pm

Nocturne 

Viktor van der Valk, Netherlands

Belgium, 2019

Alex (played by van der Valk) is a director working on his debut feature film. Struggling with impatient producers, a sick mother and a girlfriend who has just abandoned him, he increasingly finds himself torn between fiction and reality, as he navigates a looming deadline amidst a stubborn creative block. The film is highly influenced by the aesthetics of Jean Luc Godard’s sixties’ films, particularly Le Mepris (1963), as is obvious from the opening credits. The actual debut of its young Dutch director, Viktor van der Valk, Nocturne is remarkably striking in its stylistics. Structured like a thriller, with a tense, piercing soundtrack; it uncannily resembles a film noir, but one that revolves around the process of filmmaking itself rather than a murder mystery of some kind. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Sunday, November 10 at 10 pm

Zawya (screen 2) — Tuesday, November 12 at 3 pm

Thou Shall Not Kill

Gabi Virginia Sarga, Catalin Rotaru

Romania, 2018

The film follows Cristian, a young surgeon working at a Bucharest hospital, who is disturbed by a number of mysterious deaths of patients following successful surgeries. He discovers that for years, the hospital has been using ineffective biocides, which have led to numerous infections and deaths. As he struggles to publicize the revelation, both his personal and professional life are turned upside down.

Zawya (screen 2) — Friday, November 8 at 7 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Saturday, November 16 at 4 pm

Les Miserables

Ladj Ly

France, 2019

The award-winning film at the Cannes Film Festival and the French nominee for the Best Foreign film at the Oscars takes place in the Montfermeil district of Paris, a poor suburb of the city. The area was the setting for several scenes of Victor Hugo’s famous novel, yet the film is not merely another adaptation of Hugo.

Zamalek Cinema — Thursday, November 14 at 7 pm

Here & There: Films in motion

Talking About Trees

Suhaib Gasmelbari

Sudan, France, Germany, Chad, Qatar, 2019

After coming back from abroad in 2015 to pursue his first feature film, Gasmelbari consulted with fellow Sudanese film directors who invited him to a screening they had organized in a village. At the screening, which was projected onto a piece of white cloth, a sand storm erupted, but no one stopped watching. Gasmelbari said this is the film he wanted to be making. Talking about Trees is nominated for the documentary section of the Oscars, and is about the very group of Sudanese filmmaker.

Zawya (screen 1) — Friday, November 8 at 4 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Friday, November 15 at 1 pm

The Cordillera of Dreams

Patricio Guzmán, France/Chile, 2019

Guzmán examines in this film historical facts and spaces’ topography, or, in other words, geography as a space of memory. The director has pursued a similar experiment in his previous film Nostalgia de la Luz (Nostalgia for the Light, 2012), which also looks into the moving natural beauty of some Chilean regions and its spatial intersection with incidents of violence during the rule of Augusto Pinochet.  

Zawya (screen 2) — Saturday, November 9 at 1 pm

Zawya (screen 1) — Tuesday, November 12 at 4 pm

Parasite 

Bong Joon-ho

South Korea, 2019

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Parasite tells the story of an impoverished family whose course of life changes when the son is offered a job as a private instructor for a wealthy girl. The story on class struggle is stitched through an intelligent narrative that plays with a number of different cinematic genres. 

Zawya (screen 1) — Friday, November 8 at 7 pm

Zamalek Cinema — Friday, November 15 at 7 pm

Carte Blanche

Roma

Federico Fellini

 Italy, 1973

In the film, first screened at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, Fellini presents the city of Rome during two different eras: the 1970s and the 1930s.

Zawya (screen 1) — Thursday, November 14 at 4 pm

Festen

Thomas Vinterberg

 Denmark, 1998

Winner of the Jury Prize at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, the film is considered the first from Lars Von Trier’s Dogme 95 movement, started in 1995, which centered on triumphing the artist/director in the face of the power of the production company. The low budget film recounting the 60th birthday of a father of a rich family made space for a remarkable lead performance by Henning Moritzen.

Zawya (screen 1) — Saturday, November 16 at 4 pm

Bicycle Thieves

Vitorio De Sica

 Italy, 1948

The award-winning film is one of the first in the neorealism wave in Italian cinema and Sica is one of its pioneers. Set around the journey of a father and son in search of the former’s stolen bike, we are exposed to post WW2 Rome.

Zawya (screen 1) — Sunday, November 10 at 4 pm

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