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International Tension: Europe Starts in Our Small Towns

In the first of a two-part piece, Erik Redli looks at the state of Eastern Europe and how learning lessons from the past have helped people move forward today. 

We might live in Europe but first of all we live on our own country, city or village. Therefore all European activity should start at local level. Last week I took part in the Charlemagne Prize ceremony in Aachen, Germany and this week I decided to attend a roundtable discussion in the town where I used to live as a child - Šahy in south-west Slovakia.

Šahy is a small town of about 9,000 inhabitants, two churches and a few bars where the people live at night. Because of its location on the borders, it has always been a gate to Hungary and a multicultural town with many foreigners and lorry drivers passing through and leaving rubbish. That's how we were introduced to empty Coca Cola bottles and McDonald's packaging.

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Charlemagne Prize 2014: Herman van Rompuy Brings Tolstoy into Russia Ukraine Situation

Erik Redli attended this year's Charlemagne Prize, and is bringing us a series of posts bringing out the key issues of the forum.

"Berlin is becoming a melting point of Europe." These were the words of John Holten, an Irish writer and translator living in Germany, at the European Karlspreis Forum 2014 in Aachen, Germany. For a few days, the whole of Europe focusses on Germany whilst Aachen hosts the traditional Charlemagne Prize ceremony. It rewards personalities that have fostered the process of ‘Europeanization' and this year's laureate was Herman van Rompuy, the president of the European Council.

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Cannes 2014: Winter Sleep wins Palme d'Or

Séamas McSwiney has decades of experience in film journalism, and work published in top international publications. As our guest film correspondent he has been sending us special reports from the Cannes 2014 film festival.

The final red carpet parade up the steps of the Cannes Palais for the awards ceremony took place exceptionally on a Saturday this year. Cinema and politics synchronised and the calendar was adjusted because the French EU elections were on Sunday. Quentin and Uma showed up for the 20th anniversary of the Pulp Fiction Palme d'Or in 1994. And to the delight of some and the exasperation of others Tarantino presented the closing film a new HD copy of Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars for its 50th anniversary. Cannes eschews consensus to the very last screening.

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Where is Europe Heading for Young People?

Where is Europe heading and what can the young people expect from the Europe of tomorrow? Today's European election has become the forum for parties dissatisfied with their national politics and a presidential campaign for the Europhiles. Who will be the new 'Father of Europe' - bearer of the legacy of Charles the Great? Now, his successor must save Europe from the commercialism, Asian growth and Russian hegemony. Apart from that, there are many problems on the inside. Instead of closer European integration, some parts of the member countries pursue further fission - view the situation in Ukraine. These are some of the opinions that I collected on various social networks and magazines.

But the truth is, that decision, and thereby the future, lies in our hands. Obviously, there are big differences in opinion between the particular generations. The Baby Boomers are loyal to the traditional values and rules, and still hold the majority of the senior offices. The following Generation X are rather resourceful individualists who create their own rules and opportunities. Of course that they will find central control from the EU more restrictive. Finally, there is the Generation Y majority, of who are young people and students whom I want to address.

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Cannes 2014: From Gender Issues to Money Troubles

Séamas McSwiney has decades of experience in film journalism, and work published in top international publications. As our guest film correspondent he will be sending us special reports from the Cannes 2014 film festival.

More than halfway through and it's time to look back and forward to see if we can spot winners and thematic trends among the films in competition. The kick-off topic was the perennial Woman in Film debate; both in front of the camera and behind it, what is made of women's identity and if women get enough opportunity to give their vision.

Italy's Alice Rohrwacher's The Wonders and Japan's Naomi Kawase's Still The Water both employ the mysteries of mother nature as a sounding board for human nature. The former does so in a hippie-ish pastoral Tuscan environment involving beekeeping, the latter on a storm lashed island in Japan as it explores fishing, death and the depths of human fidelity. Both films contrast the intelligence of boys and girls. Guess who come out best? Both are free flowing, individualistic and stylistically ambitious; audience patience is rewarded ...or not.

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