The 14th Annual European Union Film Festival


From March 4 through 31, the Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes you to the 14th Annual European Union Film Festival, the largest showcase in North America for the cinema of European Union nations. This year’s festival, our largest yet, boasts 64 films representing 24 nations, highlighted by new films from major directors including Michael Winterbottom (THE TRIP), Catherine Breillat (THE SLEEPING BEAUTY), Tony Gatlif (KORKORO), Álex de la Iglesia (THE LAST CIRCUS), Nicholas Philibert (NÉNETTE), Manoel de Oliveira (THE STRANGE CASE OF ANGELICA), Christi Puiu (AURORA), Pedro Costa (CHANGE NOTHING), Pantelis Voulgaris (WITH HEART AND SOUL), and Jan Hrebejk (KAWASAKI’S ROSE).

According to the tradition of our festival, the opening night is presided over by the nation currently holding the presidency of the European Union. On Friday, March 4, our hosts are the Honorable Karoly Dan, Consul General of Hungary in New York, and Kaarina Koskenalusta, Honorary Consul of Hungary, Chicago, who will introduce the opening night film BIBLIOTHÈQUE PASCAL, Hungary’s dark and fanciful designated Academy Award contender. Director Szabolcs Hajdu and star Orsolya Török-Illyés will be present for audience discussion.

Also scheduled to appear are director Cary Fukunaga and star Mia Wasikowska of the United Kingdom’s JANE EYRE (March 6), director Tomas Donela of Lithuania’s FAREWELL (March 12 and 17), and actress/supermodel Liya Kebede of the United Kingdom's DESERT FLOWER (March 13). Other possible guest appearances were unconfirmed at press time; please check back for updates on guest appearances and added special events in association with screenings.

In all, the festival includes nine films that were selected to represent their nations in this year’s competition for Best Foreign Language Film. In addition to BIBLIOTHÈQUE PASCAL, we screen the official Academy Award contenders from Austria (LA PIVELLINA), Belgium (ILLEGAL), the Czech Republic (KAWASAKI’S ROSE), Estonia (THE TEMPTATION OF ST. TONY), Italy (THE FIRST BEAUTIFUL THING), Portugal (TO DIE LIKE A MAN), Slovakia (THE BORDER), and Slovenia (9:06).

We close the festival on Thursday, March 31, with Michael Winterbottom’s hilarious road comedy THE TRIP, followed by a closing night reception hosted by Whole Foods Market.

The Gene Siskel Film Center thanks the consulates, the consuls general, and the cultural institutes of the European Union in Chicago, and their embassies in Washington, D.C., for their enthusiastic participation. We especially salute the efforts of all those who served on the festival planning committee.

—Barbara Scharres and Martin Rubin

Vote for the Audience Award! Win a Free Membership!

Vote for the European Union Film Festival's Audience Award, and your ballot may be selected for the grand prize of a year's membership to the Film Center! Ballots are available in the lobby. Past winners of the award include I'M NOT SCARED (2004), COLOSSAL SENSATION! (2005), CLEAN (2006), AFTER THE WEDDING (2007), THE UNKNOWN WOMAN (2008), THE BEACHES OF AGNES (2009), and THE WORLD IS BIG AND SALVATION LURKS AROUND THE CORNER (2010).

Purchase a European Union festival pass for $50!

6 movies for the price of 5, plus a free small popcorn with each film. Turn your pass in at the end of the festival for a $5 discount on a Gene Siskel Film Center membership. An $83 value for $50!

For their generous assistance in obtaining films for the European Union Film Festival, the Gene Siskel Film Center thanks:

Austria: Dr. Thomas Schnoell, Joanne McAllister, Consulate General of Austria

Belgium: Martine Leclerq, Wallonia (Belgium) Trade & Investment, Chicago; Claude Stomp, Flanders Investment and Trade, Chicago; Frank Verpoorten, Flanders House, New York; Madeline Shapiro, Caviar Films

Bulgaria: Valentin Donchev, Lila Georgieva, Bulgarian Consulate General, Chicago; Mila Petkova, Bulgarian National Film Center; Christian Nochev, Andy Film; Anri Koulev, Svetlana Ganeva, Koulev Film Production

Czech Republic: Dana Hunatova, Consulate General of the Czech Republic, Chicago; Denmark: Lizette Gram Mygind, The Danish Film Institute

Estonia: Tristan Priimagi, Estonian Film Foundation

Finland: Jenni Domingo, The Finnish Film Foundation

France: Institut Français; Laurence Geannopulos, Jean-François Rochard, Cultural Services at the Consulate General of France in Chicago

Germany: Werner Ott, Eugene Sampson, Goethe-Institut, Chicago

Greece: Liza Linardou, Greek Film Center

Hungary: Bela Bunyik, Bunyik Entertainment; Katalin Vajda, Magyar Filmunio; Karoly Dan, Consulate General of Hungary, NY; Kaarina Koskenalusta, Honorary Consulate of Hungary, Chicago; Miklos Martin Kovacs, Hungarian Investment & Trade Commission; Bonnie Miller

Ireland: Tim Reilly, Consulate General of Ireland, Chicago; Claire McCaughley, Treasure, Entertainment, Ltd.

Italy: Silvio Marchetti, Mary Anne Melchior, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Chicago; Barbara Klein, Italian Film Festival of St. Louis; Catia Rossi, RAI Trade S.p.A.

Lithuania: Skaiste Aniuliene, Agnė Vertelkaitė, Consulate General of the Republic of Lithuania, Chicago; Tomas Donela

Luxembourg: Joy Hoffmann, Centre National de l’Audiovisuel; Valeska Neu, Films Boutique

Netherlands: Carla Bourgonje, Consulate General of the Netherlands, Chicago; Madeline Shapiro, Caviar Films

Portugal: Anne-Mathilde Roudaut, Insomnia World Sales

Romania: Oana Radu, Romanian Cultural Institute; Anne Wiedlack, M-appeal

Slovakia: Alexandra Strelková, Slovak Film Institute; David Corba, Leon Productions; Silvia Pinterova, Film Europe

Slovenia: Estelle Gadaud, Insomnia World Sales

Spain: Javier Ruperez, Consulate General of Spain; Ignacio Olmos, Teresa Hernando, Instituto Cervantes de Chicago

Sweden: Gunnar Almér, Swedish Film Institute; Kerstin Lane, Consulate of Sweden

and also: Jed Rapfogel, Anthology Film Archives; Ryan Krivoshey, The Cinema Guild; John Poole, Jr., Corinth Films; Rebeca Conget, Film Movement; Paul Marchant, First Run Features; Sonia Pachmayer, Focus Features; Livia Bloom, Icarus Films; Ryan Werner, Jonathan Hertzberg, Elizabeth Brambilla, Cary Jones, Kim Kalyka, IFC Films; Gary Palmucci, Jason Leaf, Kino International; Neal Block, Magnolia Pictures; Neil Friedman, Menemsha Films, Inc.; Ed Arentz, Brian Andreotti, Suzanne Fedak, Music Box Films; Laura Kim, James Lewis, National Geographic Entertainment; Adam Sekuler, Northwest Film Forum; John Tilley, Olive Films; Debbi Berlin, Palisades Tartan; Brandon Peters, Strand Releasing; Lara Bogenrief, Terry Hines & Associates; Kelli Larson, Lindsay Wiser, World Wide Motion Picture Corporation; Carl Youngdahl; Clemence Taillandier, Zeitgeist Films.




Fri, Mar 4th at 6:00pm
Mon, Mar 7th at 8:15pm
Average: 4.6 (12 votes)

Opening night film!
Filmmakers in person!

  1. 2010, Szabolcs Hajdu,
  2. Hungary/Denmark/UK, 111 min.
  3. With Orsolya Török-Illyés, Oana Pellea

“Visually impressive…stories and tableaux with Terry Gilliamesque touches.”
—Boyd Van Hoeij, Variety

Hungary’s official Academy Award submission is characterized by a delicate balancing act, presenting the harrowing story of a woman sold into sex slavery by her father in the fantastical style of a bizarre fairytale studded with dream sequences and animation. Mona, a single mother, attempts to regain custody of her small daughter by spinning a wild yarn of Gypsy lovers, gangsters, and fortune-tellers, culminating in her surreal sojourn in the literary-themed brothel Bibliothèque Pascal. Director Hajdu (WHITE PALMS) graces his resilient heroine with an extravagant imagination as a weapon against the trauma of memory. In Hungarian and English with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of Magyar Filmunió. (BS)

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Director Szabolcs Hajdu and star Orsolya Török-Illyés will be present for audience discussion on Friday.

Note: No free passes or blue tickets will be valid for the opening night screening.




Thu, Mar 31st at 6:30pm
Average: 5 (6 votes)

Closing Night Film!

  1. 2010, Michael Winterbottom, UK, 107 min.
  2. With Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon

"A mostly improvised, totally hilarious road movie."
—Karina Longworth, Village Voice

"Funny and strangely its wry pricking of supercilious egos, suggests a more self-aware version of SIDEWAYS."
—Fernando F. Croce, Slant Magazine

After the harrowing THE KILLER INSIDE ME, the unpredictable Winterbottom shifts gears yet again to come up with a mellow, hugely enjoyable road comedy. Reprising their shtick from Winterbottom's TRISTRAM SHANDY, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play skewed versions of themselves--Coogan the pompous narcissist, Brydon the sly, salt-of-the-earth needler. Coogan is hired by the Observer to take a culinary tour of the Lake District; when his girlfriend jilts him, he brings Brydon as a last-minute substitute. The two wits amble through gorgeous scenery, dine on scrumptious gourmet food, recite Romantic poetry, discourse on matters trivial (food stuck in teeth) and profound (death), and try to one-up each other with hilarious movie-star impressions (their dueling Michael Caines are a special highlight). In English. Special advance screening courtesy of IFC Films. (MR)

Update 3/31: The Closing Night screening of THE TRIP is SOLD OUT!

Immediately following the screening, the audience is invited to a closing night reception hosted by Whole Foods Market.

Note: No free passes or blue tickets will be valid for the closing night screening.

Films of the 14th Annual
European Union Film Festival

By default, films are listed alphabetically by country. You can also search for films from a particular country or by language by making your selection from the appropriate drop-down menu.

To return to the default alpha-by-country listing, click "Reset".




Sat, Mar 26th at 3:00pm
Average: 5 (5 votes)
  1. 2009, Tizzi Covi and Rainer Frimmel, Austria, 100 min.
  2. With Patrizia Gerardi, Asia Crippa

“One of the year’s most delightful finds…[a] rough-hewn kind of magic.”
—Jason Anderson, Eye Weekly

“Humane and quietly moving.”
—Boyd Van Hoeij, Variety

Austria’s official submission for Oscar consideration follows the progress of a two-year-old child abandoned at a playground after she’s discovered by Patty, a flame-haired circus performer who lives in a nearby trailer park. Filmmakers Covi and Frimmel forego sentimentality, and instead infuse their drama with the effortless air of a documentary, as the appealing tot’s illicit presence poses a score of knotty questions for Patty and her knife-thrower husband, but opens new channels in their lives and hearts. In Italian with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of First Run Features. DigiBeta video. (BS)

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Sat, Mar 12th at 5:00pm
Wed, Mar 16th at 6:00pm
Average: 4.4 (9 votes)
  1. 2009, Werner Boote, Austria/Germany, 95 min.

“Will make you look at the floating plastic bag from AMERICAN BEAUTY in a new, wholly suspicious way.”
—Mark Keizer, BoxOffice Magazine

“A must-see…illuminating and infuriating.”
—Ernest Hardy, Village Voice

The European tradition of the personal documentary comes in for an extra-personal twist when filmmaker Boote, grandson of an Austrian plastics manufacturer, decides to investigate the lethal side of that beloved material of his childhood toys. With abundant humor, sprightly animation, and a few Michael Moore-like strategies, the globe-trotting director undertakes a deadly serious inquiry into the composition, safety, and disconcertingly long afterlife of the plastics that fill our homes and public spaces. In German, English, Italian, and Dutch with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of First Run Features. DigiBeta video. (BS)

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Sat, Mar 5th at 9:15pm
Wed, Mar 9th at 8:45pm
Average: 4 (4 votes)
  1. AMER
  1. 2009, Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani,
  2. Belgium/France, 90 min.
  3. With Bianca Maria D'Amato, Marie Bos

"Gorgeous, clever, and visceral."
—Ella Taylor, Village Voice

"A strange and darkly dreamlike half world of magic and unexplained kitsch weirdness."-
—James Mudge,

With a stylistic tip of the hat to Dario Argento, AMER does a visually luscious take on the Italian horror genre of the ‘70s known as giallo. Three episodes in the life of precocious beauty Ana--representing childhood, adolescence, and young womanhood--chart a burgeoning sexuality that is tied to a dark attraction to violence and the supernatural. Lurid color, evocative music, voyeuristic eroticism, fetishism, psychedelic hallucinations, and more make this a must-see for any giallo fan. In French with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Olive Films. DigiBeta video. (BS)

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Sun, Mar 6th at 7:30pm
Mon, Mar 7th at 6:00pm
Average: 5 (4 votes)
  1. BO
  1. 2010, Hans Herbots, Belgium, 100 min.
  2. With Ella-June Henrard, Laura Ballyn

Based on the best-selling novel Angel House by Dircke Bracke, BO follows the swift seduction of 15-year-old Deborah, swayed by her crush on a handsome young pimp, into a double life as a prostitute. Newcomer actress Henrard brings the right mix of vulnerability and smoking beauty to a role that requires the awkwardness of a child under the sophistication of a seasoned call girl as “Bo,” as she renames herself, regularly evades her harried mom to change out of school clothes and into designer cocktail outfits to meet her tricks. In Flemish with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Caviar Films. Presented with the support of Flanders House, New York. HDCAM video. (BS)

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Fri, Mar 11th at 8:15pm
Mon, Mar 14th at 8:00pm
Average: 4.2 (5 votes)
  1. (ILLÉGAL)
  2. 2010, Olivier Masset-Depasse, Belgium, 90 min.
  3. With Anne Coesens, Alexandre Gontcharov

"[A] fascinating study of perseverance in the face of subhuman treatment.”
—Boyd Van Hoeij, Variety

Belgium’s official submission for Oscar consideration made its world premiere in the prestigious Directors Fortnight at Cannes, where the powerhouse performance by actress Anne Coesens was a standout. Tania (Coesens), a Russian citizen living illegally in Belgium with her pre-teen son, is apprehended and imprisoned pending deportation. ILLEGAL rips the lid off a Pandora’s Box of horrendous human rights abuses of detainees and their children. The film’s dramatic characterization of a meek woman who grows a spine of steel makes this no ordinary prison drama. In French, English, and Russian with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Film Movement. 35mm. (BS)

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Sat, Mar 5th at 7:00pm
Wed, Mar 9th at 8:30pm
Average: 3.8 (18 votes)
  2. 2010, Tsvetodar Markov, Bulgaria, 95 min.
  3. With Marian Vulev, Hristo Shopov

The lives of four aimless teenagers, a drug-runner on the lam from fellow mobsters, and a young man in psychotherapy, intersect with violence and black humor in a story that veers wildly between tense drama and farcical comedy. A drug heist, a gangsters’ powwow, and a John Woo-influenced bullet bath set up the underworld theme, while a slapstick caper involving the kidnapping of an old lady’s cats anchors the comedy, leaving a would-be lover waiting on a park bench with a bouquet for his beloved at the exact center of the plot. In Bulgarian with English subtitles. DCP video courtesy of Andy Film. (BS)

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Sun, Mar 20th at 7:15pm
Thu, Mar 24th at 7:45pm
Average: 3.9 (12 votes)
  1. 2010, Anri Koulev, Bulgaria, 130 min.
  2. With Stoian Alexiev, Cassiel Noah Asher

The fantastical world of E.T.A. Hoffmann is the inspiration for ZACHES, loosely based on his 1819 tale, Little Zaches, Called Cinnobar. A contemporary bookstore, a kind of clandestine clubhouse for a clutch of the author’s most zealous fans, is the jumping-off point for a film fantasy in which a well-intentioned fairy intervenes in the life of a ragged dwarf to the detriment of the futures and fortunes of everyone who crosses his path. Director Koulev, an animator and painter, conjures up a sumptuous adult fairytale filled with special effects, eye-popping sets, and more than a touch of the supernatural. In Bulgarian with English subtitles. DCP video courtesy of Koulev Film Production. (BS)


Czech Republic


Sat, Mar 5th at 7:15pm
Tue, Mar 8th at 8:00pm
Average: 4.7 (7 votes)
  1. 2010, Juraj Herz, Czech Republic/
  2. Germany/Austria, 104 min.
  3. With Mark Waschke, Hannah Herzsprung

Based on a true story, this finely crafted historical drama chronicles the persecution and expulsion from Czech land of innocent minority Germans in the wake of WWII. During the war, a mill owner and his family, the wealthy elite in a small town, are torn between the pressures exerted by the occupying Nazis and the urgency of the Czech resistance. When the beautiful wife, an orphan raised by nuns, is discovered to be of Jewish origin, there emerge enemies in the town who hope to profit by bringing the family to ruin. In Czech and German with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Corinth Films. 35mm widescreen. (BS)

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Czech Republic


Sun, Mar 13th at 5:00pm
Wed, Mar 16th at 8:00pm
Average: 5 (5 votes)
  2. 2009, Jan Hrebejk, Czech Republic, 100 min.
  3. With Lenka Vlasáková, Martin Huba

“The acting is flawless, the cinematography sublime.”
—Angus Wolfe Murray, Eye for Film

“Emotionally meaty…marbled with a lightness of touch.”
—Derek Elley, Variety

A failing marriage and a son-in-law’s resentment set the stage for the downfall of a national hero in this official Czech submission for Oscar consideration. Director Hrebejk (BEAUTY IN TROUBLE, I’M ALL GOOD) deftly juggles intersecting storylines of infidelity and betrayal with a characteristic infusion of wry humor, as a distinguished doctor on the eve of being honored with a national award is revealed to be other than he seems. The family threatens to collapse like a house of cards, but disaster turns out to have a warmly human face in this drama that plumbs the depths of guilt and comes out the other side. In Czech with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Menemsha Films, Inc. 35mm widescreen. (BS)

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Czech Republic


Sat, Mar 19th at 9:00pm
Tue, Mar 22nd at 8:00pm
Average: 3.8 (5 votes)
  1. 2009, Marek Najbrt, Czech Republic/
  2. Germany, 98 min.
  3. With Marek Daniel, Jana Plodkova

“Striking style…a cool, noirish slant.”
—Hollywood Reporter

“Rhythmic graphics and samplings of Gershwin.”
—Robert Koehler, Variety

The movie sets, cabarets, and studios of 1940s Prague, rendered in rich black-and-white and eerily bleached color, form the backdrop to this starkly stylish drama of artists, Third Reich villains, and moral choices. Popular film ingénue Hana’s career plummets when her Jewish roots are revealed, just as the smooth voice of her radio announcer husband Emil finds favor with his new Nazi bosses. Hana looks for extramarital love in dangerous places, while Emil discovers that the favor of his overlords is a two-edged sword. In Czech with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Film Movement. 35mm. (BS)

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Update (3/22) - The Tuesday show at 8PM is now SOLD OUT!