PETALING JAYA, Nov 29 — Films have become the perfect vehicle for Malaysians to travel vicariously during the pandemic when international borders remain largely restricted.
For a sojourn across Europe in the comfort and safety of your home, all 20 movies in this year’s European Union Film Festival (EUFF) have been meticulously selected to do just that.
Malay Mail sat down with Timo Goosmann, Head of Political, Press and Information Section, Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia to chat about the much-anticipated festival that is in its 22nd year and the power of films to help us understand each other better.
“Especially in these times, a virtual journey through Europe can be more interesting because it shows the diversity of Europe, the creativity and it also can invite Malaysians to think about approaches to diversity,” Goosmann said.
“It’s unfortunate that we cannot do physical screenings at this point but I can promise the selection of movies that we will be offering has been very carefully curated – there will be many treasures to discover.”
One of the objectives of the festival is to show how cultural diversity can enrich us all.
The selected films showcase a diverse range of talents from various European nations and include a number of co-productions between countries to further reinforce the message of collaboration.
But ultimately, these films are used as a medium to foster international understanding between Europe and Malaysia.
“I believe that films can be a tremendous source for empathy because films are a unique medium to understand the dreams and aspirations, social realities and also historical experiences of other countries,” Goosmann said.
“By doing a journey across other countries, this something that can enrich our vision of the world, can help us understand about other cultures and be a tremendous source of empathy.”
Like other festivals, the EUFF had to pivot and utilise the virtual space when the pandemic forced physical events to take a backseat to flatten the curve.
The advantage is, everyone can stream the films online for free unlike previous years where moviegoers had to rush to buy a ticket at a designated cinema in Kuala Lumpur.
“It is now truly an European film festival for Malaysia because it doesn’t matter if you are watching from Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Kelantan or Kota Kinabalu, to stream it opens many options to reach out to all of the country,” said Goosmann.
He does yearn however, for the experience of watching a film with a group of friends and exchanging views.
“The disadvantage that I see is that part of the experience of going to the movies is to watch it collectively as a group, to immerse in a movie theatre and then to discuss it with your friends afterwards so to stream it changes the experience a little bit,” Goosmann added.
For now, Covid-19 remains the EUFF’s biggest obstacle as the ongoing pandemic doesn’t allow the Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia to organise the type of festival they have in mind.
The silver lining is Malaysia’s high vaccination rate offers some much-needed assurance that things will go back to normal eventually.
After over two decades of a film festival that has brought a slice of European arts and culture to Malaysia, Goosmann hopes the festival will be able to continue showcasing Europe’s diversity and creativity.
It’s also a crucial platform to screen arthouse and low-budget films that aren’t typically screened in Malaysian cinemas.
“So it is a little bit of an alternative that cannot be found in mainstream cinema and therefore, it offers a unique opportunity for the viewers because it gives access to productions that would not make it into the big movie theatres otherwise.
“This is one of the aspects of the EUFF to offer a carefully curated range of interesting contemporary views, this is an added value of the festival and we hope we will be able to continue it,” Goosmann said.
The 22nd European Film Festival takes place from November 15 to December 15.
Stream all 20 films for free at euff.com.my, tickets are subject to availability.
* Malay Mail is the official media partner for the 22nd European Union Film Festival.