The third edition of the European Union (EU) Film Festival took place over the weekend, opening on Friday in Lilongwe and ending on Saturday with another screening in Blantyre.
This year, the festival screened 16 films produced by 20 different countries, with the country’s film industry also screening its short films which mostly warmed up for European feature films.
Some of the films that screened included Schoolgirls, winner of Best Spanish Film at five different award ceremonies last year, Manda Aliza, a short film from the country’s young female filmmaker, Mphatso Makamo, which tells a story of conflicting traditions in the country, Camille, a moving story of a young female French photojournalist becoming deeply and personally engaged in documenting the conflict in Central African Republic.
EU Ambassador Rune Skinnebach said the event once again shows EU’s commitment to the development of the creative industries in Malawi.
He described films as an important art discipline and that they constitute a window to another world as they take people to places that “we cannot easily get to ourselves or accommodate in our daily lives”.
“Cultural exchanges constitute an important driver for peace, progress and development. Films break down barriers and transmit values, feelings and longings that are shared by all of us,” Skinnebach said.
The EU Ambassador said it was rewarding to offer, through the European Film Festival, a way for Malawian filmmakers to also display their talents.
“For us, the European Film Festival is an important element for the European Union’s cultural diplomacy, and hence an engine for sustainable social and economic development, and for intercultural dialogue to foster peaceful inter-community relations,” Skinnebach said.
Meanwhile, Film Association of Malawi President Gift Sukez Sukali has hailed EU for the festival, saying it offered a great experience.
“It was an eye opener. We watched films made by other countries in Europe and most of these films are not on Netflix. The festival also gave us a platform to screen our films and we also networked and we hope for collaborations in the future with our counterparts from Europe,” Sukali said.
He said as Fama, they were craving for more platforms for locals to screen their films and that they were also in need of support in capacity building and other areas.
“Our biggest challenge is funding. We are working hard on our own but we need support to develop content and we are also seeking support for a festival we are set to host in November this year,” Sukali said.
At Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) on Saturday, the festival was patronised by EU Head of Charge D’Affaires Aurelie Valtat, who called on people to start watching and appreciating local films.
Hosted by Yankho Seunda, the audience discussed every film watched and shared lessons.
JCC Director Luc Deschamps also called on people to embrace local films.
Ahead of the festival, filmmakers also had a workshop last month to share experiences and for the first time, there were two European Film Festival screenings during this year’s Zomba City Festival.