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20th Cine Europa: A glimpse of cinematic artistry and diverse culture of Europe

For its 20th year, Cine Europa features a fusion of the best of classical and contemporary films from Europe to give Filipinos an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the rich artistry and culture of European nations. 

MANILA, Philippines — The old and the new merge in this year’s installment of Cine Europa, the longest and largest film festival in the country, to give Filipinos an opportunity to appreciate the rich artistry and culture of Europe.

With the theme "Where Classics and Contemporary Meet," the 20th Cine Europa formally opened on Saturday, September 16 at the Shangri-La Plaza. Public screenings will start today, September 17 until September 26.

Twenty-four award-winning films from EU countries such as Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and Norway will give moviegoers a fascinating experience to learn more about European culture and values.

The fusion of the masterpieces from the enchanting past and carefully crafted contemporary films include: "Deine Schönheit ist nichts wert" (Your Beauty is Worth Nothing), "Les Barons" (The Barons), "Monkey," "Anděl Páne 2" (An Angel of the Lord), "Babettes gæstebud" (Babette's Feast), Sult (Hunger), Jules et Jim (Jules and Jim), "Souvenir," "Lola rennt (Run Lola Run), "Terror - Ihr Urteil" (The Verdict), "Utóélet" (Afterlife), "I Soliti Ignoti" (Big Deal on Madonna Street), "20 Sigarette" (20 Cigarettes), "De He van '63" (The Hell of '63), "Veviseren" (Pathfinder), "Belgen" (The Wave), "Aniversarea" (The Anniversary), "Doua lozuri" (Two Lottery Tickets), "Perinbaba" (The Feather Fairy), "Wilsonov" (Wilson City), "Truman," El Ángel Exterminador" (The Exterminating Angel), "Flickan Mamman och Demonerna" (The Girl, The Mother and the Demons) and "The Moving Image."

WATCH: 20th Cine Europa film trailers

The cinematic festival opened with the French musical romance titled “Souvenir.” Directed by Bavo Defurne, it stars French film heavyweight Isabelle Huppert, Kévin Azaïs and Johan Leysen.

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"Souvenir" tells the story of a long-retired singer whose career is revived by love in the form of her lover, a young boxer. It is a sentimental film about two people who always seem to be runners-up in life—with Lilliane (Huppert) losing to ABBA in a singing contest and Jean (Azaïs) giving up boxing after realizing he was not good enough—who finally have a chance to triumph.

The film also provides a strong Filipino connection. Filipinos, who have a knack for singing, will surely identify with Huppert’s character.

Huppert also starred in Brillante Mendoza’s 2012 film “Captive,” which follows the events of Dos Palmas kidnappings in southern Philippines.

Started in 1997, Cine Europa was born out of the friendship between the Philippines and the European Union.

"For 20 years, Cine Europa has stood at the center of cultural collaboration and partnership between the European Union and the Philippines," Mattias Lentz, Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, said.

Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chair Liza Diño hoped that despite the conflict between the Philippine government and the European Union, the culture and partnership will still bind the nations together.

The relationship between President Rodrigo Duterte and the EU has been on the rocks since the latter criticized the current administration’s bloody war on drugs. It was further intensified when the EU issued a joint resolution calling for the release of Sen. Leila De Lima.

"Understanding and acceptance are big parts of what keep the peace and love in this world and among nations. That, in itself, is a worthy cause to promote films," Diño said.

The FDCP chair also expressed gratitude to the EU for "giving importance to the Philippine cinema." Several Filipino films such as Lav Diaz's "Ang Babaeng Humayo" and Mendoza's "Taklub" have been recognized in prestigious film festivals such as Cannes, Berlin and Venice.

"Let’s not just celebrate the films and this two-decade milestone but also the thriving and strengthened relationship and partnership and support that we have for each other," she said.

Aside from quality European films, Filipino gems such as Mendoza’s "Everlasting" and "Kadaungan," Petersen Vargas’ "2 Cool To Be Forgotten," Diaz’s "Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon" and documentary "Journeyman Finds Home (The Life Story of Simone Rota)" will also be screened. These Filipino filmmakers will also conduct open discussions.

Around 50,000 moviegoers attend the film festival every year.

After its edition in Shangri-La Plaza, Cine Europa will travel to the cities of Baguio, Cebu, Iloilo, Tacloban, Baybay, Puerto Princesa and then back to Manila.

Philstar.com is the online media partner of the film festival.

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