When South Africans talk about Europe, we tend to do so in unhelpfully sweeping terms. Some of us denigrate it as the colonising continent, the source of all the world’s woes and those of Africa in particular; this is not an entirely inaccurate generalisation, but it needs some finessing. Others idealise it as a place where everything works, where life is easy in culturally and linguistically homogeneous nation states that have decided to club together for the sake of economic security. This, too, is patently inadequate.       

I love the European Film Festival in SA for many reasons, but perhaps chief among them is that the programme each year presents an opportunity to unpick these false assumptions and to complicate the idea of Europe in our collective imagination. It does this subtly, in films of astonishing richness and variety that tell the stories of individuals and communities rather than countries, even as they connect Europe’s vexed history to the present moment. ..<...

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