Two films to look out for at the European Film Festival are Afterimage, left, about the Polish avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski, and I Am Not A Witch, below left, about sexuality and superstition in Zambia. Picture: Supplied

With a list of 10 meticulously curated films, the fifth annual European Film Festival (EUFF) will be gracing movie lovers in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town with some dazzling yet simply beautiful films from across the continent from June 21 to July 1.

The festival, which is curated by award-winning Lesedi Oluko Moche, features films that have, in the last two or so years, been award winning, are beautifully made and are either made by a first-time or prolific director.

The movies provide for an alternative viewing experience, in that they are not your typical box office movies, which makes them all the more appealing.

Oluko Moche selected movies from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and the UK. This is not Oluko Moche’s first rodeo, with her having worked on a number of independent fiction films, socio-political documentary films and television shows, among them the internationally acclaimed documentary, A South African Love Story: Walter & Albertina Sisulu, a presidential project under former president Thabo Mbeki, Freedom Wasn’t Free and Behind the Rainbow, the story of the ANC and its transition from a liberation movement to a governing party, directed by Emmy nominated Jihan El Tahri. 

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She has also served as festival director for the Encounters Documentary Film Festival.

Speaking about the festival, Oluko Moche said: “The biggest achievement in this selection has been securing films by award-winning first-time and emerging women filmmakers who have come out with bold cinematic offerings.”

She said that together with co-curator Margherita Di Paolo, they sought to locate strong, character-driven films that were entertaining as well as diverse in story and locality.

“These films stand on par with the established names programmed in this edition,” she said.

Among the films that will be showing at EUFF is the biopic by prolific director Andrzej Wajda, about the life of Polish avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski, Afterimage. A leading figure of Polish modern art, he was ostracised, isolated and reduced to poverty by the Stalinist regime for not adhering to the party aesthetic and ideological view.

This homage to Constructivist art and its Polish leader is a fitting end note to Wajda’s grand career.

He died at the age of 90, leaving an extensive filmography devoted to telling cinematic stories on pivotal moments and major characters in the history of Poland.

Afterimage is the last film that Wajda directed. He is a recipient of a Palme d’Or as well as an Honorary Oscar and Golden Lion award. Four of his films have been nominated for Best Foreign Language film and Afterimage was the Polish entry for Best Foreign Language Film 2017.

Another epic film is I Am Not A Witch by a younger, first-time director, Rungano Nyoni, that explores the boundaries between sexuality, superstition and their place in contemporary Zambia.

This Bafta Award-winning film, set in a Zambian village, follows 9-year-old Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) as she is banished to a camp (and tourist site) for women accused of being witches. 

In her feature debut, Nyoni chose what she calls “cruel humour” to tell the story of existing witch camps and shine a spotlight on the absurdity of outdated traditions. Mulubwa is captivating on screen.

There are eight other films that make up the festival, which will be showing at Cinema Nouveau: Rosebank, Brooklyn and V&A Waterfront as well as the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, taking place from June 28.

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