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Calgary European Film Festival offers an alternative to Hollywood fare

When it comes to booking the lineup for the Calgary European Film Festival, organizers want only the best. “Most of the films we’ve chosen have either won awards or are critically acclaimed,” says Mariet Minchev, director of the European Cultural Society. Now in its third year, the festival is presenting nine movies from nine countries, including Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic.

The festival kicks off Friday and runs until Sunday at The Globe Cinema. Last year’s fest attracted about 1,000 people over the three days, and Minchev expects the number to grow this year. “There are a lot of movie fans in Calgary who come out for European cinema,” she says. “The films are very different from the kind of Hollywood movies we usually get here. There’s kind of a lack of culture here in that respect, and some people got together and said they would like to see more of those international films.”

The idea started with the city’s Romanian community, which held its own short but successful film festival in 2011. Minchev says she and other members of the local Bulgarian society discussed collaborating with the Romanian group and other European community associations to build a larger-scale festival. “We emailed everyone that year,” she says. “But we only heard back from a few people.”

Only five films screened that first year, but the response was encouraging. “There were a lot of new immigrants and immigrants from a European background who attended,” she recalls. “But we found that there are also just as many movie fans who are interested what’s playing in The Globe.”

Among the nine films screening this year are Child’s Pose from Romania, Les Garçons et Guillaume, à Table! from France and Der Verdingbub (The Foster Boy) from Switzerland. Les Garçons et Guillaume won five French César awards, including best film, while Child’s Pose received the Golden Bear for best film at the Berlin International Film Festival and was Romania’s official selection for the Best Foreign Language category at last year’s Oscars.

Minchev says film buffs will enjoy what the festival has to offer and hopes they will spread the word. “We would like to expand,” she says. “We created a new not-for-profit European Cultural Society around this time last year, to help sponsor and organize the festival as it grows, since a lot of people in the communities are so busy already.”

Details:

•    Tickets are $10 each, $25 for a three-movie pass, or $70 for a 9-movie pass.

•    They can be purchased online or at the Polish cultural centre, the Czech consulate, the Romanian cultural association or Alliance Française.

•    For more info, go to calgaryeuropeanfilmfestival.ca.

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