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December 2010 - Nr. 12
The best of Seasons from Echo Germanica
Lucille de Saint-Andre

The European Film Festival at Toronto’s Royal Theatre was decidedly upbeat among the young film fans during l8th to 30th November of this year.

The 22 contemporary films presented were exciting, and often deeply emotional, with English subtitles. Selected from the International Film Fests of Venice, TIFF and Berlin, many have garnered international recognition and awards. They dealt with a broad range of universal themes seen from a European point of view and moreover, they were free on a first come, first served basis. One ticket per person, to be picked up at least one hour in advance, defrayed, we hope, by private donations and a host of smiling volunteers - as well cooperation from the different European diplomatic missions in Canada and cultural institutions.

The Italian film, We Can Do That, Si puo Fare, is set in Milan in the early 1980s and deals with the delicate theme of mentally ill and handicapped patients at a time when the Italian government closed down psychiatric hospitals due to their inhumane conditions.

What to do with them? Up comes Nello, a devoted trade unionist and troublemaker, whose ideas are decidedly ahead of his time. Dismissed, he is sent to run a cooperative with these mentally ill patients and resolutely sets out to work with them, organizing groups to make and install tiles and generally making themselves useful.

Against all odds, Nello manages to bring out the best in his new employees, treating them as workers, developing an innovative and profitable business that restores their dignity and reintegrates them into society.

Director Giulio Manfredonia was able to cast some really fine actors, doubtless of former patients, who portrayed their plight to stick to the job at hand as they grew up in the modern world. We understand that this pioneer job action became a role model for others following in their footsteps.

Another film was Little White Lies, Les Petits Mouchoirs, by Director Guillaume
Canet, who assembled a cast of some of France’s finest actors to play a group of yuppies and their inter-action during work and mostly play. They usually gather together at the beautiful seaside home of their host, an earnest and correct individual who wants to do everything just right and manages to upset everyone.

This year their annual vacation is interrupted by the serious motor cycle accident of one of the group and they hotly debate whether to stay with him or return when he is all better and out of his coma. They finally decide to leave Paris for their annual romp in the sand and sun, with fine wine, seafood and all the delights of a beach vacation. In the course of this, they bump into each other, lie, and pretend all is well, while underneath the fires burn and bubble over and all the hidden tensions erupt to the surface and the group is pulled apart, and finally pulled together again by friendship, loyalty and love.

In the end the wounded motor cyclist dies and the group is united again at his funeral. The group ensemble is great and Marion Cotillard is outstanding as the party belle.

Lucille de Saint-Andre reports about film festivals, art, entertainment, museum, exhibitions & travel. She writes her own reviews.

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