All of the European Union member countries are being LUX-ed. The 2015 LUX Prize winner, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang, and the two other finalists, Jonas Carpignano’s Mediterranea and Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s The Lesson, have been travelling around the whole continent ever since the LUX Film Days kicked-off back in October, delighting audiences of all kinds and natures.
LUX Ambassador and 28 Times Cinema member Via Valin reports from Helsinki, where the screenings took place on 7 and 8 November. “The National Audiovisual Institute's archive cinema, The Orion in Helsinki, organised the screenings for the first time as a part of the official autumn programme. The atmosphere in Orion was one of excitement and expectation. Orion is truly a place where movie lovers and professionals can come together and share their experience,” Valin says of the screenings, of which the one for Mustang was met with a long-lasting standing ovation. “Each one of the films raised a lot of questions and promoted discussions between people about political and cultural issues, gender and values,” continues Valin. After these events, the three films went on a tour around other Finnish cities (Turku, Tampere, Kuopio, Joensuu and Oulu).
Far from there, LUX Ambassador and 28 Times Cinema member Oana Ghera talks about the events in Bucharest, on 26 and 27 November. “Every film was introduced by the head of the European Union office in Bucharest, Mădălina Mihalache. Prior to them a conference was held focusing on diversity in European films as a main theme. I was invited alongside film critics Dana Duma, Ileana Danalache, Ileana Bîrsan and actor Alexandru Papadopol,” Ghera explains. “Everybody loved the films here in Romania. Mustang was the favourite, and was also screened for younger audiences in one of the Bucharest based cinematographic education programmes I collaborate with. It being part of the Lux Prize initiative definitely helped raise awareness for larger audiences as well”.
Further down south, LUX Ambassador and 28 Times Cinema member Giulia Privitelli reports from Malta. The screenings, held from 11 to 13 December in Valletta, kicked off at the intimate Spazju Kreattiv auditorium in the historic St James Cavalier building. “From the familiar faces of regular cinema-goers to new ones, from chuckles of laughter to dead silence by the end of Mustang; from whispered comments during Mediterranea to a lively and heated discussion between screenings on the much-spoken theme of immigration; from scepticism and a half-filled theatre for The Lesson to a packed auditorium by the end of the screenings, the event was incredibly well received by the attending audience. On the opening night, Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta Peter Agius, delivered an introductory note on the LUX Film Prize initiative to the present audience, among whom were two members of the European Parliament. Each screening was preceded by a brief technical talk by film and theatre professional Joyce Grech and me, who highlighted the most salient themes – from gender equality, immigration, and corrupt, unethical economic structures – which the films effectively shed light upon.”
As Privitelli says, “the Lux Film Days are not simply about the three-day event. It was not simply about watching the films. It was, and still is, about awareness, and how to widen and reach new audiences. It is clear, from the feedback received before, during, and following the screenings, that these films are an effective tool to get people to think, to react and to speak about concerning issues. It is also felt, very deeply, that screenings of such films should be repeated over the course of the year; that thematic-based workshops should be held following the screenings – in schools, as part of artistic, academic and social well-being programmes; that continued discussion and awareness raised through radio and online portals. In other words, the voice of the Lux Film Days needs to be heard all year round, as three days were simply not enough.