Europa! Europa! Film Festival Artistic Director Talks About European Cinema and Must See Films at This Years Fest

The Europa! Europa Film Festival is currently running in Sydney and Melbourne from February 16 to March 7. It’s a festival dedicated to celebrating and highlighting the very best of European cinema.

Nadine chatted with Artistic Director Thomas Caldwell about the festival, what the role of being an Artistic Director of a film festival means, and most importantly, what films are being screened and what you simply cannot miss.

Head over to the Europa! Europa site for further information and to purchase tickets.

Can you tell us a little about the festival? How long has it been running?

This is the second year of Europa! Europa after we unveiled the first program at the start on 2022. It’s a festival dedicated to European cinema, recognising how much European films are close to hearts of Australian audiences.

What does an artistic director of a festival do?

A lot of it is creative decision making, but a lot of it is also administration and negotiation. I search for films of interest, determine their eligibility for the festival, watch the films and then decide if I think there will be an audience for them at Europa! Europa. I then go about securing the film for the festival, which includes discussing things like sales fees, film delivery and any other special conditions. While a lot of the time is spent watching films – and usually two out of three films are ones I’ll pass on – I also spend a lot of time looking at Academy Award submissions, international box office numbers, and the programs of the major international festivals. All this involves very mundane work that includes maintaining spreadsheets and databases, and a lot of emailing.

What are some of your proudest programming moments?

It’s always very satisfying to secure a major film that you know was highly sought after, but even better is when you discover something amazing that for whatever reason isn’t that well known yet, and you get the rush of knowing that by putting it in the festival, and whole bunch of people will also now get to see it who otherwise wouldn’t have ever known about it.

With major European countries and regions already having dedicated festivals, what is it that makes Europa! Europa unique?

We aim to reflect the diversity of Europe, which includes programming films from countries that are usually overlooked by other festivals. We also aim to select the best-of-the-best so because we aren’t focused on just one country, we don’t need to pad out our program. Our program carefully and lovingly curated.

This year you will be bringing the transcendent Three Colours Trilogy restored to the big screen. How does it feel to introduce audiences new and old to these amazing works?

Absolutely amazing. Securing the Australian premiere of the 4K restorations of these 1990s art-house classics was a bit of a rush as they are such iconic European films and as well as simply being excellent, big screen essentials, very much-loved, and representing so much of what Europa! Europa is about: presenting great films that both function as an alternative to mainstream Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking, but also completely accessible to regular audience-goers. I’m thrilled we are presenting these films, but I will also confess that my motives were a bit self indulgent as I wanted to see them on the big screen again myself!

Can you recommend five films that you would consider must-sees for Europa! Europa 2023?

I have actually thrown together a top five and then also five-hidden gems:

Top Five


A masterful Romanian drama about aid workers who have broken down in the forest. This film hints that it will go into dark and disturbing territory and instead very cleverly challenges our perceptions and prejudices.


Another Romanian film, this time a crime film and police procedural. The first half follows a young nun on a mysterious trip to the city, the second half follows a detective attempting to discover what happened to her.

The Worst Ones

A film about an ambitious Belgium filmmaker casting local kids to star in his gritty and authentic drama set in a poor Parisian suburb. This is a satire about social-realist filmmaking and the ethics of using non-professional actors.

Safe Place

Croatia’s submission for the Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards, this tender and empathetic drama about a suicidal man and how his family try to look after him is based on the experiences of the filmmaker. Difficult subject matter handled with integrity and compassion.

The Beasts

Nominated for 16 awards, including Best Film, at the 37th Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars) this is a compelling drama about a French couple in rural Spain whose conflict with the locals escalates in frightening ways. 

Five Hidden Gems


The droll humour and stylisation in this Italian film about a twenty-something woman trying to make a new friend has already earned comparisons to the films of Yorgos Lanthimos, Miranda July and Noah Baumbach. A fun deadpan comedy.


Estonia’s submission for the Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards is a classic underdog sports film about the Estonian basketball team who in 1990, despite all the political turmoil surrounding them, entered the Soviet Union’s basketball championship.

Remains of the Wind

Premiering at Cannes last year as a special screening, this is a stunning yet tragic film set in rural Portugal. Definitely one for more serious cinema-goers, this beautifully made film examines mob behaviour and injustice.

More Than Ever

Another Cannes film, this one about a woman with a rare life-threatening illness does run the risk of flying under the radar due to its subject matter, but this is a beautiful and compassionate film set largely on the Norwegian coast, with an incredible central performance by Vicky Krieps.

My Love Affair With Marriage

Latvian-born filmmaker Signe Baumane created a sensation in 2014 with Rocks in My Pockets, where she used humour and animation to explore her struggles with mental illness, and now in her new film she employs a similarly absurdist approach to portray her misadventures in love, sex and marriage. 

Nadine Whitney

Nadine Whitney holds qualifications in cinema, literature, cultural studies, education and design. When not writing about film, art or books, she can be found napping and missing her cat.

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