San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Moving Pictures

European Film Festival hits Cine Magaly

Nothing says “cosmopolitan” like an international film festival, and thanks to Cine Magaly in Barrio Escalante, San José will host two weeks of European films in this charming downtown cinema. The Festival de Cine Europeo is a feast of continental movie making, with entries from such diverse countries as Hungary, Italy, and Belgium. There are comedies, dramas, and historical epics, and if you have a high tolerance for existential torture, you can even check out the latest Lars Von Trier film, “Nymphomaniac Vol. 1.”

The festival is screening too many films to catalog here, but we thought we’d offer some tempting snippets and summaries to whet your palette. If you like what you see, feel free to leave comments and recommendations below. Check out the full schedule on Cine Magaly’s Facebook page. Admission to each film is ₡2,000 ($4) or ₡1,500 ($3) for students. Film festival plays from July 16-31.

“Who Was Dayani Cristal?”

Perhaps the most topical entry is this inventive British documentary from superstar Mexican actor Gael García Bernal. When the cadaver of an undocumented immigrant is discovered in the desert, Bernal attempts to follow the man’s footsteps across the U.S. border. His only clues: the dead man’s mysterious tattoos. (July 23, 4 p.m.; July 27, 5 p.m. July 28, 6:30 p.m. In English and Spanish, with Spanish subtitles).

“A Gun in Each Hand”

With a title like “Una Pistola en Cada Mano,” you might expect some bleak action movie, but Cesc Gay’s comic vignettes are like a Gatling gun of one-liners. Watch these middle-aged Spaniards get emasculated in each 15-minute mini-film. (July 17, 6:30 p.m.; July 19, 6 p.m.; July 27, 7 p.m. In Spanish).

“The Marathon”

Like a Dutch version of “The Full Monty,” Diederick Koopal’s  “De Marathon” is a comedy about working class duds finding new purpose. But can a bunch of smoking, drinking, junk food-eating guys really run 26.2 miles and save their floundering garage? “De Marathon” is probably the best-reviewed Dutch film in recent memory. (July 18, 3 p.m.; July 21, 8:30 p.m.; July 31, 6:30 p.m. In Dutch with Spanish subtitles).


According to scientists, Augustine is a “hysteric.“ But what is really going on behind the doors of the psychiatric hospital? Alice Winocour’s creepy drama reimagines an actual psychiatric case – in the days before actual psychiatry. (July 20, 5 p.m.; July 21, 6:30 p.m.; July 26, 6 p.m.; In French with Spanish subtitles).


Lech Wałęsa started Poland’s first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and personally stood up to Soviet tyranny on the sodden docks of Gdańsk. It’s about time somebody made a biopic about him, and Andrzej Wajda was just the director to do it. (July 17, 8:30 p.m.; July 22, 4 p.m.; July 24, 8:30 p.m.; In Polish with Spanish subtitles).

Contact Robert Isenberg at

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