Friday, May 01, 2009

A window to Europe's rich culture: The European Union Film Festival

Photo courtesy of Eastcoastlife.

I had the honour to watch a preview of a Swedish film, Wolf, directed by Daniel Alfredson on 29 Apr 2009 (Wed) at the Swedish Embassy Residence. Wolf is one of the films that will be featured during the 19th European Union Film Festival. The festival will be held from 7 May to 17 May 2009 at Golden Village VivoCity.

Wolf is a film that is scripted by Swedish author Kerstin Ekman. In this film, other than getting a brief view of the vast landscapes of Northern Sweden, audience could be offered a glimpse to the language, culture and way of life of the Sami, who are the indigenous people of Northern Europe. I learnt that a large part of the Sami's culture involves the herding of reindeer. Two days after watching the film, I found a website that gives an introduction to the Sami people and found myself reading about the Sami people's way of life. That is possibly an example of how films can be a platform to encourage the learning of another culture.

Other than having to awe at the vast and beautiful landscapes of snowy Northern Sweden, I have learnt a little more about Sweden through the film. Thanks to this film did I get to know that the killing of the wolf is illegal in Sweden. Wolf poaching in Sweden is a crime that is punishable by up to four years in prison. This is because the wolf is considered one of the endangered species in Sweden.

While subtle, tension and conflicts can be fairly easily identified in Wolf. Essentially, as the synopsis to the film has suggested, Wolf shows the conflict between tradition and modern-day society. I would see that these tensions and conflicts are rather universal. They do not simply confine themselves to the Swedish society.

When it would have been more expected for the 18-years-old male character in the film to be interested in computer games and modern-day entertainment, he was instead interested in the reindeers, the traditional way of life for the Sami. Modern needs suggest that the 18-years-old male character should go to school to receive formal education yet his interest is in taking care of the reindeer. It makes me wonder, should we as individuals put the needs of the modern society before our own, or should we follow what our hearts lead us to?

At a more macro level, I would see that there is an inherent conflict between the legislation and the Sami's herding of reindeer. Like any herdsman, the natural instincts would be to protect one's herd from predators. Yet again, to kill the wolf, which is the predator in this film, is an offence in Sweden. Reconciliation seems to be an act requiring delicate balancing. At times, it seems that something has to be sacrificed as a result of the conflict.

If you would like to find out what had been sacrificed in this story, it may help to watch this film at the upcoming European Union Film Festival. It was touching for me to witness how one can make sacrifices for another human being.


In the meantime, for anyone in Singapore who would like to have a glimpse of Europe's rich culture, the European Union Film Festival will be an event that should not be missed. The film festival showcases critically acclaimed films from European countries such as Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and more. For more information, please visit the following websites:

European Union Film Festival
ENCORE! The European Season in Singapore

Tickets are available at S$10 at GV VivoCity box office, online at and at AXN stations islandwide.

All movies are subtitled in English.

Last but not the least, my words of appreciation to the Embassy of Sweden for organising the private movie preview of Wolf and to Eastcoastlife for making it possible for me to attend the event. Eastcoastlife has blogged about the 19th European Film Festival right on her blog. Do take a read of it.

It happens to be Eastcoastlife's birthday today, and I would like to wish her Happy Birthday here. Cheers.


DK said...

Ahhh.... I saw you at the event last night but didn't know its you. Found that you look very familiar but just can't recall who are you.

Paiseh paiseh.

oceanskies79 said...

DK: Hi, Not to worry. I prefer to be low-profile.

I noticed you were present, and it just seems strange to approach a fellow blogger whom one has never met and surprise him/her as if one has known the person for ages. How strange blogging has changed the way people interact with one another. ;)

EastCoastLife said...

Thanks for the lovely wishes. :)

Glad you enjoy the film. This EUFF is a great opportunity to learn more about life and people in Europe. :)