Six of the best

Mediterraneo
Mediterraneo

The Southern’s film reviewer, Angus Wolfe-Murray, is curating a weekend festival of the finest European films at Peebles’ Eastgate Theatre from February 14-16.

Cinephile Angus, describing his grand tour of classic continental cinema, said: “From the innocence of childhood to the complexities of adult relationships and from absurd comedy to the brutal realities of politics and nationalism, this is a weekend of entertainment designed to make you laugh, cry and think about the huge variety of lives led on the continent of Europe, from Sweden through France, Germany, Bosnia, the Czech Republic and Italy.”

The festival, entitled six of the Best, launches with Cyrano de Bergerac, on Friday, February 14 at 7.15pm.

“Gérard Depardieu plays Cyrano, a brilliant, charismatic swordsman with a generous spirit, a genius for poetry and a very big nose,” writes Angus.

“Cyrano adores Roxanne but when she attracts the attention of Christian, a very handsome young cadet, he agrees to help the ineloquent Christian woo her with words.

This film stresses the tragic majesty and poetry of the original, with renowned author Anthony Burgess writing the English subtitles.” Saturday opens at 2.30pm with the Mediterraneo, the hilarious Italian tale of a unit of misfit soldiers on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. At 4.30pm the mood darkens with the searing, extraordinary, No Man’s Land.

“The grim futility of the war between Bosnia and Serbia is reduced to its essence as one soldier from each side, equally armed and alone, face each other,” explains Angus. “Between them is a dead Bosnian soldier, his body rigged so that if it is moved a hidden landmine will explode.

“Eventually the two men are found by UN peacekeepers and it is discovered that the dead soldier is actually still alive. How can they disarm the mine without killing him in the process? The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001.”

Bergman’s classic Fanny and Alexander, instantly hailed as an epic masterpiece, brings Saturday to a close at 7pm.

Sunday opens at 4.30pm with Kolya, a funny, warm, feelgood film from the Czech Republic that tells the story of a selfish, womanising, middle aged man landed with responsibility for a six-year-old boy named Kolya.

Wrapping up Six of the Best is the German masterpiece The Lives of Others, at 7pm. This look inside the world of the Stasi secret police deals with belief, betrayal and corruption.

Angus writes: “Gerd Wiesler is an agent of the Stasi and has devoted his life to ferreting out ‘dangerous’ characters, including Dryman, a celebrated playwright renowned for his patriotism.

“He finds that the writer really is one of the few East Germans who genuinely believes in his leaders. Then Dryman discovers that his girlfriend is being blackmailed into a sexual relationship with a government minister and one of his friends is driven to suicide after being blackballed by the government.

“As Dryman is forced to reconsider his opinions, Wiesler finds his own views changing.

“The film won awards including best film, best director, best screenplay, best actor and best supporting actor.”

Tickets are £7 or £5 available from the Eastgate Theatre on 01721 725777. Book for two films for £12 or £8.