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Monday, October 25, 2021


The European Film Festival has just successfully completed 10 days of online screenings and topical discussions, as well as community events and schools programmes. (October 14-24, 2021).

The principal purpose of the festival is to showcase new thought-provoking films from Europe, many of which may not be seen on SA cinema circuit or the respective streaming platforms. The increased participation of countries from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia added diversity to this year’s offerings, with stories providing glimpses into the experiences of citizens in their respective social worlds and cultures.

Public response has been excellent with 9,456 streams recorded - pretty good for a line-up of only 18 films! Attendance is well over 10,000 when the special event screenings, community and schools screenings are included.

Discussion programme still available online

While the films are now closed, recordings of the festival’s Live Zoom discussion programme and Q&As with the filmmakers remain available on as an opportunity to engage more deeply with some of the topics raised in the films showing in the festival.

With 13 of the 18 festival films having women directors, the series kickstarted with Breaking Glass Ceilings for Women in Film, a crucial and necessary focus on how far we have come, and not come, in honouring, empowering women filmmakers. This features veteran Polish director Agnieszka Holland and the highly-experienced Dutch writer/ director Antoinette Beumer in conversation with SWIFT chairperson Zanele Mthembu, and Bongiwe Selane whose new sequel Happiness Forever launches on Netflix in November. This conversation provided insightful perspectives on the situation in the local and international film industries where clearly much still needs to be accomplished.

If you watched Mr Bachmann and His Class, you would have witnessed Mr Bachmann’s unconventional but absolutely inspiring approach to teaching. The enigmatic educationist participates in a delightful session In Conversation with Mr Bachmann, with inputs from former MEC for Education Mary Metcalfe and Andisiwe Hlungwane of Teachers CAN, with moderation by DUT academic Dr Rene Smith. Make sure you stay to the end, as any good student should….

Aligning perfectly with this year’s festival theme of Healing Journeys the session The Bright Side – Surviving the Journey delves into the sensitive territory of cancer, but is equally applicable to other journeys of acceptance, healing and recovery. A powerful and heartfelt discussion between three- time cancer survivor Anthea Lewis and film director Ruth Meehan, carefully moderated by Rosie Motene, takes us deep into the experiences, and offers pragmatic approaches to coming to terms with major life-challenges.

In A Film about Life, Death and Money, Daily Maverick Citizen editor and health activist Mark Heywood together with Jan Verheyen and Lien Willaert, directors of the film Save Sandra, puts the thorny issue of access to medicine under the spotlight. As Heywood points out, the title could well be A Film about Life, Death, LOVE and Money, as love for their daughter is the driving force behind the family’s painful battle with pharmaceutical companies.

After dealing with these weighty subjects, a fitting closure to the discussion programme comes in the form of Humour, Healing and Messaging where popular South African comedian Riaad Moosa engages Michael Kreihsl, Uje Brandelius and Michela Andreozzi about their films and their approach to humour. This lively discussion makes a compelling case that Laughter can indeed be the best medicine, and that humour is definitely part of the healing journey, for individuals, and for society.

Film lovers are encouraged to sign up on the website for notifications about next year’s festival. Visit

Special thanks to the Funders and Partners whose support made the European Film Festival of 2021 possible: The Delegation of the European Union to South Africa and 17 European embassies and cultural agencies in South Africa:  the Embassies of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the British Council, Camoes Institute of Portugal, Diplomatic Representation of Flanders, French Institute in South Africa, Goethe-Institut, and Italian Cultural Institut. The festival was organised in cooperation with Cineuropa and coordinated by Creative WorkZone.