EUFF’s Concrete Night is well-made but uncomfortable to watch

A review by Brenda Daniels 

The film poster with its original film title. This 2013 film shows in cinemas in South Africa as part of the European Film Festival. Photo: creative commons

The film poster with its original film title. This 2013 film shows in cinemas in South Africa as part of the European Film Festival. Photo: creative commons

The 2015 European Film Festival celebrates women through the theme A Woman’s World. In Concrete Night, it is director Pirjo Honkasalo who is celebrated.

The film centres around a teenaged-boy named Simo who lives with his single mother and an older brother in a miserable-looking apartment block in Helsinki, Finland. Inner city shots, night filming, graffiti and grime, and relentless rain add to the depressing atmosphere of the story. It certainly belies the film’s given description which contains the words “beautiful Helsinki”. In fact, I caught myself thinking I wouldn’t live in Helsinki if I was paid to. But I think this is what Honkasalo intended: to create a setting that echoed the characters’ hopelessness.

The story takes place over the course of only one night and serves as a journey of sorts – Simo’s passage into adulthood. According to his brother, adulthood or future is one in which humans don’t matter, and one that is better lived without hope. Taken too literally by immature Simo, this advice has devastating consequences for the young man, and proves excruciatingly untrue for his brother.

Concrete Night is not an enjoyable film. It is strange and confrontational, and I found myself glancing at my watch hoping it would end. But the ending did bring the difficult elements of the story into sharp focus. I was left feeling depressed but with an appreciation that Concrete Night is a well-made film.

Concrete Night screens at Cinema Nouveau (in Durban) on Friday 15th May at 5.30pm.


A Woman’s World to open soon at the European Film Festival in Durban


For its second edition, the European Film Festival (EUFF) (#EuroFilmFestSA) celebrates women through the theme A Woman’s World, with a selection of films that feature female directors, strong female characters or women-related stories.

This year’s EUFF features 12 internationally-acclaimed films from 8 to 17 May, representing the best of European cinema and never before screened to South African audiences.

In Durban, the festival will take place on Friday 8 to Sunday 10 May and Friday 15 to Sunday 17 May at Cinema Nouveau – Gateway (Gateway Theatre of shopping (Expo/Explore Floor), 1 Palm Blvd, Umhlanga Rocks).

For more information about the EUFF 2015 FILM SELECTION, visit:


The 12 internationally-acclaimed films lined up for EUFF 2015 – A Woman’s World – include:

  • Ida: Pawel Pawlikowski’s film is the first Polish feature to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (2015) amidst rave reviews from around the world
  • Two Days, One Night: the latest project taken on by the multi-award winning Dardenne brothers features French actress Marion Cotillard, nominated for the 2015 Best Actress Oscar
  • A Second Chance: directed by Academy Award-winning Susanne Bier, the film features Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones); San Sebastian Festival 2014
  • 3 Hearts: a French romantic drama starring film legend Catherine Deneuve; Venice International Film Festival 2014
  • Amour Fou: an Austrian tragi-comedy, inspired by the life and death of the historic poet Heinrich von Kleist (Christian Friedel); Cannes Film Festival 2014
  • Concrete Night: Finnish female director Pirjo Honkasalo’s film is a dream-like odyssey through beautiful Helsinki over the course of one night; Toronto International Film Festival 2014
  • Beloved Sisters: German Romanticism at its most expressively romantic, a cinematic tour de force from director Dominik Graf; Berlin International Film Festival 2014
  • Human Capital: Valeria Golina and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, two of Italy’s leading actresses, in a film that San twists love, class and ambition; Tribeca Film Festival 2014
  • Frailer: with great humour and sincerity, Dutch female director Mijke de Jong draws an intimate portrait to capture the way we face death; Toronto International Film Festival 2014
  • Blood of my Blood: from Portugal, this film focuses on unconditional love – and the lengths two women are prepared to go to protect those they love; San Sebastian Festival 2011
  • Blancanieves: from Spanish director, Pablo Berger, Snow White is recast as a talented bullfighter in an eerie and erotic silent film treat; Toronto International Film Festival 2012
  • My Brother the Devil: a masterful debut from female director Sally El Hosaini, one of the brightest new talents of the UK cinema; Berlin International Film Festival 2012