Romanian and Turkish films short-listed for European film prize

By Patricia Koza

    Two films from the New Europe are among the three productions short-listed for the European Parliament’s new Prix Lux award designed to boost European cinema. Romania’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days directed by Cristian Mungiu and the German-Turkish co-production The Edge of Heaven by Fatih Akin were chosen from among 800 films produced in Europe between May 1, 2006 and June 1, 2007.

    The third candidate on the short list, which was announced on Tuesday, Oct. 2, is the French-Portuguese co-production Belle Toujours by Manoel de Oliveira, a sequel to Luis Buñuel’s 1967 classic Belle du Jour. The award will be determined by a vote of parliamentary deputies and will be announced Oct. 24. Instead of a cash prize, the winning film will be subtitled into the European Union's 23 official languages.

    The new Prix Lux award – "lux" means "light" in Latin – was unveiled May 30. It is designed to address one of the main barriers faced by European cinema in reaching a wide audience: the diversity of European languages and the cost of subtitles and dubbing. If the winning film is already being screened across Europe, money will be made available to put the film on DVD.

    European films gained just 27% of market share on the continent last year, while Hollywood films produced in English continue to dominate.

    Sponsor of the idea is French Green MEP Gérard Onesta, who said he believes that subtitling will remove linguistic barriers and allow for wider distribution of films. To be eligible for the prize a film must represent at least one of the following criteria: universality of Europe’s values; Europe’s cultural diversity; or the debate on the integration of Europe.

    4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,
    winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Palme D’Or, is the harrowing story of a student trying to arrange an illegal abortion and the loyal girlfriend who helps her in the dark final days of communism in Romania.

    The Edge of Heaven, which won Best Screenplay and the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Cannes, explores the intersecting destinies of Germany and Turkey through the stories of men and women of differing backgrounds facing the pain of loss of cultural identity.