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Monday, September 18, 2023



(Review by Patrick Compton)

The European Film Festival 2023 runs from October 12 to 22, 2023 with screenings of all 16 films at cinemas in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and limited screenings in Durban, and online.

A 14-year-old girl walks in a field of wheat. As she gaily blows away the blossom of a flower she looks up at the sky and sees a sinister blood-red storm coming her way.

Perhaps a mite too obvious as a symbol, this is a sure sign for us that young Lise’s carefree life is under threat.

As in Heaven is the gripping, highly promising debut feature of Danish director Tea Lindeburg. Set on a prosperous farm in Denmark in the late 1800s, the action is seen through the eyes of a soon-to-be-liberated young girl (superbly played by Flora Hoffman Lindahl) over a 24-hour period that will change her life forever.

Life is free and easy for Lise and her five younger siblings at the farm, with the promise of some kind of freedom for Lise whose mother is determined to send her away to be educated, a prospect that thrills her but not her stern, resentful father.

Lise’s mother is pregnant, again, and the family prepares for another addition. But there are complications with the birth and the events of the day are punctuated by her agonised cries.

The action is seen through the increasingly disturbed eyes of a young teenager and it is immediately obvious that Lise occupies an involuntary place in a patriarchal world ruled by a stern God. Lise’s mother, however, is attempting to rock the foundations. “God has great plans for you,” she tells Lise as she prepares for the birth, but we wonder as the film constantly hints at future catastrophe. A guilty Lise has issues to contend with, and she will bargain with this God as the day ends.

Director Lindeburg is a fresh new talent in Denmark and she portrays patriarchal 19th Century society through the eyes of a feminist and also the secular perspective of someone who sees God as an Old Testament trap, certainly for women. Another image, late in the film, is of butterflies trapped in a spider’s web, and though another somewhat crude symbol, we certainly get the message.

Marcel Zyskind’s camera is a study in contrasts, from the bright landscapes of the fields and woods where children lark around, to the dark corridors of the farmhouse where only pain and anguish lurk. - Patrick Compton


Screenings take place at Ster-Kinekor’s The Zone in Johannesburg, and The Labia in Cape Town. Each film will screen once.

Ster-Kinekor Gateway in Durban will present a limited programme of films not available in the online streaming. Five of the most recent films will only show in cinemas: Anatomy Of A Fall, Goodbye Julia, The Old Oak, The Teachers Lounge and Mavka – The Forest Song. 11 films can be viewed for free online.

Visit for more information or click on the European Film Festival logo to the right of this article.