Six flicks to see at this year’s European Film Festival

A scene from the 2017 Austrian film Mademoiselle Paradis (Licht).

The Cinematheque (1131 Howe St.) presents its 21st Annual European Film Festival (Nov. 23 – Dec. 4). In this year’s fest, 26 EU members countries contribute one of their best films from recent years. Selections range from dramas to comedies to documentaries, and include award winners, official Oscar submissions, and many Vancouver premieres.

We’ve gone through the selections and chosen six that look like best bets, including a thriller from Slovakia, a time-travel comedy from Portugal, and a drama from Ireland. See below for details.

Mademoiselle Paradis (Austria, 2017)—A historical drama about a musical prodigy in late 18th-century Vienna. “In the best moments of “Mademoiselle Paradis,” the sensual world comes across as a work in tingling progress.”—

Gozo (Malta, 2016)—Set on titular Gozo, Malta’s second-largest island, this psychological thriller was partly inspired by Nicolas Roeg’s famous Venice-set 1973 film Don’t Look NowGozo was named best UK film at the Raindance Film Festival in London. “As an exploration of creeping shame and a descent into madness by the guilty, Gozo doesn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking, but everything it does is executed with style and intent.”—

A scene from the 2016 UK-Malta co-production Gozo.

Mother Knows Best (A Mãe é que Sabe) (Portugal 2016)—A box-office smash in its native Portugal, writer-director Nuno Rocha’s feature debut is a family comedy with a time-travel twist. “Mother Knows Better unites an inspired cast around the table, including… veteran actress Manuela Maria (in a brilliant performance balancing drama and comedy, with her character suffering from Alzheimer’s)…”—

Three family members from the 2016 Portuguese comedy Mother Knows Best.

The Line (Čiara) (Slovakia 2017)—A thriller set in Slovakia’s lawless borderland in the lead-up to the EU accession. “Redolent of The Godfather and The Sopranos with a soupçon of Animal Kingdom and a welcome dose of black humor, The Line is an entertaining, fast-paced crime thriller set in the lawless borderlands of the Slovak Republic and Ukraine prior to Slovakia’s accession to the European Union in 2007.”—

I Can Quit Whenever I Want (Smetto quando voglio) (Italy 2014)—A gang of underemployed academics get into the drug trade in this Italian comedy. “Like an Italian mash-up of “Breaking Bad” and “Ocean’s Eleven,” this smartly written comedy marks a strong feature debut for director Sydney Sibilia.”—

Breaking bad in the 2014 Italian caper comedy I Can Quit Whenever I Want (Smetto quando voglio).

The Drummer and the Keeper (Ireland 2017)—Musician-turned-director Nick Kelly’s feature film debut follows the friendship between a bipolar rock musician and a teenager with Asperger syndrome. “Kelly has not made an art film that talks us through the issues with a grim face. The picture is airy, funny and at home to optimism. But it also remains honest about its subjects.”—

Cinematheque’s European Film Festival is presented with the help of the Vancouver consulates and the Ottawa embassies of the member states of the European Union and the Delegation of the European Union to Canada.

For screening times, tickets, and more info, visit

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