The film festival broadens its horizons with European cinema

A film festival this week gives Pittsburghers a taste of cinema across the pond, bringing a selection of European films to the Harris Theater.

The Downtown Theater hosts EU Film Festival from January 28 to February 3. In-person screenings are available for $11 per ticket, with discounts available for students and seniors. Movie buffs can also choose to skip the big screen – a selection of feature films is available for stream online throughout the festival.

Allyson Delnore, acting director of the Pitt Center for European Studies, said exposing students to these films helps achieve the center’s higher purpose.

“Part of our centre’s mission is to increase understanding and awareness of Europe and the world more generally, and cinema provides an excellent and easy lens through which to learn about another part of the world. “, said Delnore. “It’s a little easier than reading a dry academic text.”

Among the films screened at the festival are “Border country (Grenzland)” by director Andreas Voigt, which crosses the unique region encompassing the outer limits of Germany, Poland and Czechia. Another is “Perfumes (The Perfumes)», a French dramatic comedy directed by Grégory Magne. The festival will also include Q&A with Voigt, Magne and “emerging filmmaker” Simon Elvås.

Regis Curtis, a young German, French and major in gender, sexuality and women’s studies, said he was delighted to attend the festival.

“I’m excited to see what happens when people invest in something, in this case Europe, design and curate a collection of films to watch, which is very different from regular cinemas which are primarily for the purpose lucrative,” Curtis said. . “I’m very excited for ‘Borderland (Grenzland)’.

Delnore said she was open to seeing some of the movies’ debuts through American eyes.

“We have a few films that have never been screened in Pittsburgh before and, in fact, this will be their US debut,” she said. “I look forward to the conversations with the filmmakers.”

A collection of six shorts is also available in line for free, each of them being finalists of the “MEET EU Short Film Competition”. The contest, which accepted submissions from young adults from Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina, encouraged aspiring filmmakers to explore the theme of “transatlantic connections.” Viewers can vote for their favorite short film from the selection.

Randall Halle, director of Pitt’s film and media studies program, said the concept of transatlantic connections was abstract, but central to the competition.

“There are a number of things we could say about the word ‘trans’. From my perspective, it shouldn’t involve a move to settle on anything, so I wouldn’t be interested in a film from a filmmaker who yearns to pass as a European,” Halle said. . “But rather, ‘trans’ in the sense of ‘transitive’, as if to bring two parts of the world together.”

The Pitt Center for European Studies, with help from its counterparts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Florida International University in Miami, organized the festival as part of the MEET initiative EU.

According to his websiteMEET EU is a program developed by the European Union to foster “a diverse network of transatlantic futures” among American youth, co-funded by a Getting to know Europe grant from the EU Delegation to the USA

Delnore said collaborating with other universities has taken the festival beyond state lines.

“It was mainly Pitt who organized it, but through our partnerships with other EU centers across the country, we are able to ensure that the virtual festival has more of a national profile, or at least on the East Coast,” she said. noted. “[Halle] wanted to mount a festival that showcases these collaborative film projects and how European cinema explores themes that cross borders but also showcases local and national diversity.

Halle said American audiences benefit from branching out to films made elsewhere in the world.

“They look different from Hollywood. They are different from what you see on Netflix. Watching a European film gives you a chance to broaden your horizons,” Halle said. “The United States tends to be very insular and isolationist. The majority of Americans do not have a passport.

To remedy this, Halle said, exposure to European media may be the answer.

“Europe remains one of the places where most of our students have a real interest in history, culture, economics, politics,” Halle said. “It opens up the possibility for them to have a momentary window into a different world – 90 minutes to 120, usually.”

Linguistic diversity is not lacking among the films – moviegoers can hear Czech, Romanian, German, Slovak, Polish, French, Portuguese, Swedish and Italian throughout the festival. Halle said the variety of languages ​​was deliberate.

“In making selections, I tried to match the programs we have in Pitt. For example, Pitt is fortunate to have one of the few Slovak programs in the United States,” Halle said. “Pittsburgh is also home to Duolingo, and many of our students have gone to work [there.]”

Halle, who taught German, said Americans tend to have a unilingual view of the United States that doesn’t necessarily reflect reality.

“We have a presumption of English first and even English only in the United States, which is absolutely not true. There is no single official language – we use English as a common language , but all the languages ​​of the world are spoken in the United States,” Halle said. “To understand the people we live with, we might want to understand how to deal with other languages.”

Delnore said it was important for the American public to hear these languages ​​represented in the media.

“It’s kind of been my life’s mission here at Pitt,” Delnore said. “We spend a lot of time trying to foster the teaching and learning of less commonly taught languages…it kind of broadens your perspective – it makes people a little less foreign and a little closer.”

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