35,000ft, sometime in the not-so-distant future. Eight year old Jane Monnetti sits aboard an aeroplane which is flying through a menacing storm, heading for Berlin. But all is not well at ground-level. The European Union has collapsed, and countries that had collaborated happily at the beginning of the 21st Century are regressing into the fractious collection of competing nation-states that existed before the EU’s formation. Scared by the turbulence, Jane strikes-up a conversation with an English archaeologist sitting next to her: Charles Granda. He is about to give a lecture on the EU, an entity she had never heard of. In his suitcase he has 5 artefacts which evoke 5 lost European values. To distract Jane from the increasingly menacing storm he tells her 5 stories about what the EU was, why things went so wrong, and what has been lost since its collapse.
For each story, we rewind to 2014 and Annalisa Piras’s film – Executively Produced by Bill Emmott, former Editor of The Economist – examines the identity crisis of current-day Europe and the complex challenges that are mounting against the Union’s survival. Beset by growing nationalism, seven years of economic crisis and an increasing dissatisfaction with its undemocratic political structure will Europe sleepwalk into catastrophe as it did one hundred years ago? Using beautiful photography, high level expert interviews, personal stories, archival footage inter cut with the aeroplane drama, Piras constructs an epic picture of a Europe that is worth fighting for, but which, if things carry on as they are, looks destined for disintegration. Through 5 different European stories, in Britain, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Croatia the film creates a unique, choral portrait of the “European dream” and how it could be lost forever. The positive achievements of a Union that has created prosperity, stability and the most advanced welfare states in the world, while preventing major wars on the continent, come to life and underpin the case for urgent major EU reform. Subtle, moving, thought-provoking and witty, “The Great European Disaster Movie” is far more than a political film but instead frames Europe through the eyes of those who are most important to its success: the Europeans themselves.