LIKE many film festivals, the Cine Europa film festival has also moved its 2020 installment — featuring 19 films from 20 European countries — online.

“This 23rd edition is different from the previous ones. Obviously, we’re in the midst of…[a] pandemic, but that has [led] us to go virtual like many other festivals this year,” Rafael de Bustamante, first counsellor of the European Union (EU) delegation to the Philippines, said in an online press conference on Oct. 30 via Zoom.

The online version of the festival celebrating European films is also meant to reach more people because it will be held online until Nov. 29 through the festival website,

“The novelty this year is we can bring more movies [and it will also] allow us to present a wide variety of European movies. Before, we used to get physical copies from member-states who are present in the Philippines, but now we can access repositories that we have with us,” he said before explaining that the films chosen for this festival are films “which rarely make it to commercial theaters.”

The festival opened on Oct. 31 with a by-invitation only screening of Sweethearts (2019) by Karoline Herfurth at the SM Mall of Asia Cinema by the Bay drive-in cinema, and a simultaneous online screening.

The German comic-thriller is about a thief and her easily-panicked partner who are running from both a relentless detective and the ruthless underworld.

Among the other films to be screened in the festival is the Austrian documentary She is the Other Gaze (2018) by Christiana Perschon. It tells the story of five female artists whose career started in 1970s Vienna and how their art is connected to feminism. Meanwhile Tel Aviv on Fire (2018) by Sameh Zoabi is a film from three countries — Belgium, France, and Luxembourg — about two people trying for a second chance at love after 40 years.

Another Belgian film, The King of Belgians (2016) by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, follows the journey of the titular character as he journeys through the Balkans, desperate to return home to save his country from its worst political crisis.

The Czech film Women on the Run (2019) by Martin Horsky, is about a matriarch who tries to fulfill her wish of running a 42-km marathon and does so with her family despite not having prior training and dealing with various issues.

Denmark’s Before the Frost (2018) by Michael Noer, tells the story, set in the 1850s, of a farmer facing starvation and looking for a better life for his family. He is given a choice between allying himself through marriage with another farmer or selling his land to a wealthy landowner.

Also from the Nordic region, Finland’s Lady Time (2020) by Elina Talvensaari is about a woman who ends up with a dead woman’s belongings and must come to the decision whether to throw them away or not.

From France comes Let the Girls Play (2019) by Julien Hallard, a film about the formation of the country’s first female football team which was inadvertently created by a sports journalist and an executive secretary for the same paper.

Another football film, Germany’s Too Far Away (2019) by Karoline Herfurth, tells the story of the friendship between a bullied German boy and a Syrian refugee.

Hungarian film Bad Poems (2018) by Gabor Reisz, follows a man who is dealing with heartbreak by wandering around his city and musing about love.

Italy’s Vice of Hope (2018) by Edoardo de Angelis, tells the story of Naples’ child trafficking issue and a woman having difficulty giving birth.

Jacob, Mimmi, and the Talking Dogs (2019) by Edmund Jansons is an animated film from Latvia and Poland about two kids spending summer in a city suburb where they meet a talking dog and embark on a mission to save a wooden house from reconstruction.

Another Latvian film, Mellow Mud (2016) by Renars Vimba, follows two orphaned siblings who must choose between living in an orphanage or living with a grandmother they hate.

The Polish film All These Sleepless Nights (2016) by Michael Marczak, is a documentary about a new era dawning in Warsaw and how two schoolboys figure this dawn into their own coming of age.

The Line (2017) by Peter Bebjak is a Slovakian thriller about the lives of traffickers and smugglers crossing from the Ukrainian border.

Spanish film Bunuel in the Labyrinth of Turtles (2019) by Salvador Simo is an animated film following Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel and artist Salvador Dali as they try to create a documentary about Spain’s poorest region.

And Then We Danced (2019) by Levan Akin tells the story of a Georgian dancer whose life is turned upside down with the entry of his rival whom he harbors a secret desire for.

Another animated film, My Life as a Zucchini (2016) Claude Barras from Switzerland, is about a boy sent to a foster home and, together with other orphans, learns the meaning of life, love, and family.

Finally, the Netherlands’ The Conductor (2018) by Maria Peters, is based on the life of the first woman who successfully conducted a large symphony orchestra, Antonia Brico. The film chronicles her love for music and the struggles she faced entering a world dominated by men.

To watch the Cine Europa films for free, register via For the full screening schedule, visit cineueropaph. — Zsarlene B. Chua