Amy: my opinion about her has changed

Amy is the opening feature of the European Film Festival which will be screened at Cinema Nouveau in South Africa from 6 to 15 May. The first screening is tonight at 08.30pm.

2007 MTV Movie Awards - Show

Amy Winehouse performs “Rehab” during 2007 MTV Movie Awards – Show at Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

The documentary uses what looks like amateur footage painstakingly put together to present a sympathetic portrait of the singer. Scenes shown stretch from that of a little dark-haired girl, to a happy, chubby-cheeked teenager, through to the final sad image of a small, lifeless body being stretchered into an ambulance.

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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

The Hunt is excellently hard-hitting

A review by Brenda Daniels

The Hunt is a 2013 Danish film that was initially screened in South Africa in May 2014 as part of the European Film Festival at Cinema Nouveau. It won a number of awards at the Cannes Film Festival and others, including best actor for Mads Mikkelsen who stars as Lucas in this hard-hitting movie.

Lucas is a kindergarten teacher in a small town in Denmark. He is loved by the little ones and is seen having lots of fun with them. In his private life Lucas enjoys fun of a more raucous kind with a group of men, all of whom have clearly been friends for a long time. Swimming naked in Denmark’s freezing climate and hunting deer are among the group’s activities.

Lucas is also a divorcee with a teenage son, Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom), whom he longs to see. His longings are rewarded by Marcus’ eventual wish to come and live with his dad.

Before this happy reunion can come to pass, however, things change dramatically for Lucas. Through a series of simply portrayed events Lucas finds himself accused of child molestation. And it is here that we see the film’s title “The Hunt” coming sharply into focus. From colleagues, to parents, townsmen to friends, most of the people in this small town turn on Lucas with a violence that is hard to watch. Police and the law appear only as a vague accusatory presence.

It is the personal betrayal, the stumbling, scuffling attacks on this man’s dignity by people he knows that are so deeply hurtful, and harsher than any “action” film I’ve seen. A line spoken by Lucas’ best friend goes something like this: “There’s evil all around us but if we stay together we keep the evil out.” The evil without (us) or the evil within (us), I wonder.

The Hunt is an excellent and deeply disturbing portrayal of cruelty and human nature. As intense as it is to watch I do highly recommend it. It opens at Cinema Nouveau Theatres in South Africa on 3 October.

Mads Mikkelsen plays the lead role in The Hunt

Mads Mikkelsen plays the lead role in The Hunt. Photo: Supplied by Ster Kinekor