Seventeen European films will be shown at the cinema next month, enriching the public's knowledge of the traditions and culture of the countries they originate from.

However, the cinematic celebration is lacking a local production despite attempts to source a Maltese film with English sub-titles.

"The Maltese have much to offer in projecting their own reality on screen," said Joanna Drake, head of the European Commission Representation in Malta.

Submitting Angli The Movie was debated, however the lack of sub-titles was an issue, among other things and Dr Drake hoped more people would start venturing out.

The office, together with the embassies of the EU member states, is organising the eighth edition of the European Film Festival that will run between February 1-17.

This is the first festival organised since Malta's entry into the EU. It is also the first held through the European Commission Representation in Malta which is now headed, for the first time, by a Maltese national.

As in past editions, the films from these countries provide an exciting variety of cinematography, visually recounting stories of love, hate and courage.

They are also seen as highlighting the resolve to capture an audience which, from year to year, reaches new peaks of appreciation of European film-making and of a culture flowering with new nations, new peoples and new ideas.

This edition will feature a variety of films from 17 member states including some of the countries that joined the EU in May 2004. Fifteen films will be presented at the Eden Century Cinemas, St Julians, and two at the Citadel Theatre, Victoria.

The festival kicks off with an Austrian production called Come, Sweet Death, a bizarre dark comedy. With the exception of France, which is presenting a 16-year-old motion picture - Cyrano De Bergerac - all the films have been produced in the past five years.

Among the films being presented is the UK's Ladies in Lavender, starring Judi Dench, that tells the story of two sisters who saved a stranger, and the stranger who stole their hearts.

Germany is presenting Nowhere In Africa, a film on a homeland lost and another found; while Sweden is showing Let's Play House, a drama comedy celebrating the ecstatic unpredictability of love.

The productions on offer should provide ample entertainment for film aficionados and presents a choice that would normally not be so readily available on the big screen.

As in previous editions, proceeds from this year's festival will go to Dar tal-Providenza, an institution which provides residential care for people with disabilities.

Entrance tickets against a voluntary contribution/fee of Lm1 for each show will be available at the box office of both venues from Tuesday.

A souvenir booklet of the festival is available on demand at the EC Representation Office in Malta, Ta' Xbiex, tel. 2134 5111.

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