Museum of Moving Image (MoMI) hosts the 11th edition of Panorama Europe, showcasing the current crop of the best European films, including both narrative and documentary works. The series presents a portrait of contemporary Europe during a period of tremendous flux. Also, though some of the films are by established directors many are by first-time and emerging artists, and nine of the 17 films presented here are directed by women.
This year's lineup includes Mademoiselle Paradis, involving a blind pianist protege and Dr. Mesmer; Fugue, a new film by Agnieszka Smoczyńska (The Lure); and Several Conversations about a Very Tall Girl, an intimate Romanian lesbian romance in the age of social media.
Panorama Europe runs from today, May 3, through May 19.
A Festival Pass (good for all MoMI screenings) is available for $50. All films will be shown in their original languages with English subtitles.
Here are four outstanding films I had a chance to see:
Mademoiselle Paradis - Barbara Albert **Opening Night Film
Maria Dragus (Graduation, The White Ribbon) gives a virtuosic performance as Therese Paradis, a blind pianist protege in 1777 Vienna in Barbara Albert's period piece.
Therese, a young woman who became blind at young age, is administered under the care of Dr. Franz Mesmer (Devid Striesow), a controversial figure, whose idea of animal magnetism -- namely, that there is natural energy transference among all living creatures -- has been met with skepticism in Viennese social circles. But thanks to his unusual method, Therese slowly regains her sight, albeit fragile and weak still. All the new stimuli interferes with her piano-playing and her parents, who are more worried about losing her disability pensions bestowed by the queen, scold her that she is better off being blind.
Young and naive, Therese needs not only to contend with her newfound sense but also social, sexual and class dynamics. Also, she is pushed to question her purpose in life for the first time. Albert expertly demonstrates the disparity in treatment and struggles of those who were disabled in the 18th century.