The Changing Face of Europe, which is presented by European Film Promotion (EFP) in collaboration with Hot Docs, returns to Toronto with the sixth edition of its festival-within-a-festival program—nine features and one mid-length film—exploring themes around identity, belonging and struggle.
“Over the years, the Changing Face of Europe has become one of the more impactful programs in the lineup, and also an essential component of our festival programming,” Hot Docs artistic director Shane Smith told Variety in advance of the festival.
More from Variety
“Europe has a rich history of and strong connection to the art of documentary filmmaking,” he said. “We are delighted to showcase the powerful work coming out of the continent that sheds light on crucial issues facing Europeans today.”
World-premiering “A Happy Man” (Slovakia, Czech Republic), written and directed by anthropologist and filmmaker Soňa G. Lutherova (“Flooded”), tells the story of Marvin, who has moved from the Czech Republic to Sweden with his husband and their two young children, and recalls his recent past as a trans man. The film follows Marvin and his family over two years, from the time he officially applies for gender change through 2022.
“Ultimately, our film is about love and respect for one another as human beings,” commented Lutherova. “I hope that with every story like Marvin’s, we help people to understand that life, family and relationships all have many forms.” “Happy Man” is produced by Maroš Hečko and Peter Veverka (who is taking sales inquiries at Hot Docs) for Azyl Production, Hanka Kastelicová, Tereza Keilová and Tereza Polachová for HBO MAX; and co-produced by Filip Čermák for Company F.
Winner of the Meeting Point Vilnius Pitch Award in 2022, the world-premiering “Roberta” (Lithuania), the debut film of director Elena Kairytė, follows a young Lithuanian woman over five years, creating a chronological portrait of a generation of Lithuanian youth born in the mid-nineties. “I will be able to talk about the matters important to me at the moment—about the age that I live in, how full of uncertainty the present time is and how unstable the young people feel,” commented Kairytė about the impact of her process.
“Roberta” is produced by Ruta Jekentaite, cofounder of Baltic Productions. A national premiere is planned for Fall 2023, along with a theatrical release in the Baltic states.
North American premieres in the Changing Face of Europe include “After Work” (Sweden), Erik Gandini’s exploration of the future of human jobs in a world of increasing AI automation (CPH:DOX premiere); Niki Padidar’s 2022 IDFA opener “All You See” (Netherlands) that asks: When does a newcomer to a country stop being new and really belong?; Lisa Gerig’s CPH:DOX premiering “The Hearing” (Switzerland), in which rejected asylum-seekers re-enact their hearings; 2022 DOK Leipzig-premiering “The Homes We Carry” (Germany), Brenda Akele Jorde’s story of a mother and her daughter torn apart by immigration red tape; mid-length film “Sundial,” Liis Nimik’s portrait of rural family life in Estonia; Yannick Kergoat’s exploration of loophole-filled world of tax evasion “Tax Me if You Can (France), also a CPH:DOX premiere; and 2022 Dublin International Film Festival’s Best Irish Documentary Winner “Vicky,” Sash King’s film about one of worst women’s healthcare scandals in Irish history.
Veronika Lišková’s “The Visitors” (Czech Republic, Norway, Slovakia), which follows tensions that emerge in the world’s most northernmost town during a study of the impact of globalization on isolated communities, receives its Canadian premiere in the program.
“We congratulate Hot Docs celebrating its 30th anniversary and are thrilled to take part in this important festival over the past six years with the Changing Face of Europe,” said EFP managing director Sonja Heinen in an earlier statement. “Sharing the multifaceted stories by European filmmakers with North American audiences, and connecting documentary filmmakers with the industry, is a great endeavor for us.”
The Changing Face of Europe is presented in collaboration with Hot Docs and is supported by Creative Europe—the MEDIA Programme of the European Union—and the participating national film promotion institutes EFP’s member organizations: Czech Film Center, Estonian Film Institute, German Films, Lithuanian Film Centre, Screen Ireland / Fís Éireann, SEE NL (The Netherlands), Slovak Film Institute, Swedish Film Institute, SWISS FILM and Unifrance.
Best of Variety