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Three films contending for the EP LUX prize: screening starts

Starting next Tuesday November 10, three films contending for this year's European Parliament LUX Prize are being screened at the European Parliament in Brussels. These are Eastern Plays (Bulgaria, Sweden); Sturm (Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands); and Welcome (France). The winner will be revealed on 25 November in Strasbourg.

Fiction or animation films illustrating or questioning the founding values of European identity, revealing Europe’s cultural diversity or bringing insights into the debate on the EU integration process are eligible for the LUX Prize. They have to be produced or co-produced in the EU or EEA, should last at least 60 minutes. In addition, the first theatre release of this year's contenders should have been between 1 June 2008 and 31 May 2009.

The three films competing for this year's LUX Prize were revealed on 9 September at the 66th International Film Festival in Venice. These were selected out of 10 proposed by a panel of 17 cinema professionals appointed by the European Parliament's Committee on Education and Culture. The jury included a representative of the previous year's LUX Prize winner.

Through the LUX Prize, the European Parliament contributes to the breaking down of language barriers that too often hinder the circulation of films throughout Europe. Consequently, similar to previous winners Auf der anderen Seite (2007) and Le silence de Lorna (2008), the 2009 LUX Prize winning film will benefit from the financial support of the European Parliament, consisting of:
• subtitling into the 23 official languages of the European Union, including an adaptation of the original version for visually- or hearing-impaired people;
• producing a 35-mm print per member state or supporting the subsequent DVD release.

This year's contenders -at the very heart of the European public debate

Eastern plays by Kamen Kalev (Bulgaria, Sweden) depicts two brothers - one involved in a neo-Nazi movement and the other rescuing a Turkish family - reuniting and questioning what they really want from life.

Sturm by Hans-Christian Schmid (Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands) is focused on a prosecutor at the Hague Tribunal who participates in a trial of an alleged Bosnian war criminal. Amidst the inconsistency of political interests and threats coming from Bosnian Serb nationalists, she realizes that her opponents are also found in her own ranks...

Welcome by Philippe Lioret (France) shows a swimming instructor who, willing to impress his wife and win her back, decides to secretly help out a young Kurdish refugee who wants to swim across the English channel.

Screening and selecting the winner

The films will be screened from 3 to 20 November in the specially built LUX Theatre (containing 90 seats) near VoxBox, 3rd floor of the Altiero Spinelli building of the EP in Brussels. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are invited to watch the films; any other person authorized to access the European Parliament will be able to attend the screenings too. The films can also be viewed on the internal EP TV network Visicable (channel 77).

Only Members of the European Parliament will be able to vote for the films. They can do it on the EP intranet and internet websites (the latter also accessible by link from the main LUX Prize website) until 24 November. MEPs will have as many votes as the number of films they have seen (up to 3).

Award ceremony

The winner will be officially revealed and the prize, worth about 87,000 euro, will be awarded in Strasbourg on 25 November in the hemicycle, in the margin of the plenary hall, before the voting session, by EP President Jerzy Buzek. It will finance subtitling in the EU's 23 official languages, including the adaptation of the original version for visually- or hearing-impaired people, and, for each EU member state, the production of a 35-mm print per member state or a contribution to the DVD release.

Related events

On 10 November, a special event in Brussels is planned to mark the official release of the 30-language DVD of the 2007 LUX Prize winner Auf der anderen Seite (Germany, Turkey). It is the first time in the world that such a multilingual DVD is released. Fatih Akin, the director of Auf den Anderen Seite, as well as the directors of the three currently contending films, Goethe Institute representatives and EP Culture and Education committee members will attend.

On the eve of awarding the prize, on 24 November, a press conference in Strasbourg is planned with representatives of the three films, followed by a reception.

Journalists will have an opportunity to interview the representatives of the films.

Quotes on the LUX Prize

Doris Pack, chairwoman of the EP Committee on Culture and Education: "There is no European conscience neither emotion nor European identity, if we don’t keep in mind the specific histories of each country, that is to say if we don’t watch European films in order to discover the soul of Europe".

Kamen Kalev, director of Eastern Plays: "Neonazi movements are not more present in Bulgaria than in other European countries. Intolerance is not exclusive to a single country, nor does it belong only to right-wing political forces. All politicians have the same responsibility - to help people outgrow their prejudices and learn to live together".

Hans-Christian Schmid, director of Sturm: "Films need to travel and the LUX Prize can help a great deal to make these films be seen and understood all over Europe. What more could one ask for?"

Philippe Lioret, Director of Welcome: "When a love story bumps into geography, human law and the absurd world order. The Amsterdam Treaty aimed at establishing an “area of freedom, security and justice” for Europeans. The selection of Welcome by the LUX Prize is an encouraging sign. We see this as a sign of support for the values which the film defends –commitment, solidarity and open-mindedness– against all attempts to go backwards."

Fatih Akin, director of Auf der anderen Seite, 2007 LUX Prize winner: “I think the LUX Prize is the most innovative award for European cinema. The sponsored subtitles enabling the laureate to present her/his film all around Europe is a great idea, and the election process draws attention to foreign productions from babylonic Europe which otherwise would have remained unknown. Hopefully the European Parliament will continue to promote our diverse and rich cinematographic culture through the LUX Prize".

Luc Dardenne, Le silence de Lorna, 2008 LUX Prize winner: "Being able to see other directors’ films is a real problem in Europe. The LUX Prize is a first step to solving it. I hope that everyone involved in distributing and screening movies throughout Europe will grasp the significance of this."

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