The Dutch film “Cool Kids Don’t Cry” (Achtste Groepers Huilen Niet), about an athletic child diagnosed with a debilitating illness, could be among the staples of cable TV’s Fox Family Movies. It sure has the usual elements: tight-knit family, supportive and jovial adults, and the hodgepodge group of kids with a common interest.
But the filmmaker’s treatment creates the possibility of a less-sunshiny, family-movie ending. The internal and physical struggles of young protagonist Akkie, suffering from leukemia, build up, but her pain and frailty are not glossed over.
Directed by Dennis Bots, the film could have indulged in melodrama, but instead uses a soft-pedal approach that renders a poignancy the story deserves.
Best of all, the children are given a voice. Consider a conversation about death that Akkie’s school friends have when her health takes a turn for the worse:
“What happens when I die?”
“Nothing. When you’re dead, you’re dead.”
“When I was young I wanted to go to Cat Heaven.”
“When she (Akkie) dies, she’ll go to Allah. That’s not such a bad thing because he’s good.”
That scene is one of our favorites not only because mortality is a queer subject for children, but also because the simplicity of the dialogue gives it depth.
“The movie is a human-interest story and there could be a similar story in the Philippines,” said France’s Julian Vassallo, political counselor to the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, during the press screening of “Cool Kids” and launch of the 16th edition of the Cine Europa festival.
The Dutch entry is among the 21 titles in this year’s lineup, which includes musicals, wartime films, GP-rated comedies, documentaries, drama-thrillers, period and historical dramas from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
“This (Cine Europa) is all about giving people a chance to see movies that don’t make it to the regular cinemas,” said Vassallo. “There is enormous variety [of films] because of very different types of cinematic traditions in different member-states of the EU.”
Filipino audiences now have a chance to watch fairly recent European cinema fare such as “A Royal Affair,” the Oscar-nominated historical drama from Denmark starring Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander; Bafta-nominated British documentary “Project Nim”; German drama “Barbara,” by award-winning director Christian Petzold; and Italian comedy “Mid-August Lunch” (Pranzo di Ferragosto), starred and directed by Gianni di Gregorio. Hungary makes a festival debut with “Made in Hungária,” a musical comedy set in the ’60s.
Organizers have beefed up the educational component as well, part of efforts to build on last year’s innovations, such as expanding the festival tour from three to six cities.
Screening of Filipino movies and round-table discussions will be held, with educational events touring universities in Manila and Cagayan de Oro.
“We want to break the mold of having just one university [per event and instead] bring them together and try to create some networking among people… interested in films and film production and direction, and those within and outside the Philippines who have experience in joint movie productions,” Vassallo said. “We hope to encourage more joint productions, because there already have been between European and Filipino filmmakers.”
Cine Europa is ongoing until Sept. 15 at Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City. Festival tour continues Sept. 17-22 in Baguio; Sept. 24-29, Iloilo; Oct. 4-6, Cebu; Oct. 10-13, Cagayan de Oro; and Oct. 15-20, Davao.
For inquiries and screening schedules, visit www.shangrila-plaza.com or Facebook shangrila
plazaofficialfanpage; tel. 3702500 loc. 579. Visit http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/philippines/ or https://www.facebook.com/EUDelegationToThePhilippines.