Dark, brooding and introspective with subtitles. That’s how most of us relate to European films, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Carlos Borjas, director of communications for the Calgary European Film Festival (CEFF), acknowledges the focus of European films is often on small, intimate narratives. “Films that tell stories about similar topics,” he says. “Like war and family, but told from different perspectives.
Although European filmmakers have historically been indie-orientated, Borjas notes there’s been a move towards more lavish productions with bigger budgets looking for a wider, mainstream audience. He cites the German comedy drama, Toni Erdmann, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2016 as an example. Still, the film fest has no intention of “going Hollywood,” rather they want to strike a balance between intimate and the mainstream.
Now in its eighth year, CEFF has grown from representing five to 22 countries with the specific purpose to promote European communities in Calgary.
“Despite their differences they can get together for a week through art and culture that isn’t available with commercial screenings. We specially do not show films in English, but in their original language as an immersive experience, the full experience as each nation intended.”
Borjas adds that while they promote indie productions, the films selected are of notable quality and have been shown at the Berlin or Cannes film festival or recognized with an award of distinction.
“They are the best voted by their own industry and country,” he says. “A presentation of all the little European gems.”