The 15th Annual European Union Film Festival

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From March 2 through 29, the Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes you to the 15th Annual European Union Film Festival, the largest showcase in North America for the cinema of the European Union nations. This year’s festival encompasses all 27 EU countries, presenting the Chicago premieres of 65 films. As always, our festival presents a wide range of recent production, from first features by the cream of Europe’s new talents to the latest films by established masters.

Major directors include Andrea Arnold (WUTHERING HEIGHTS), Terence Davies (THE DEEP BLUE SEA), Bruno Dumont (HORS SATAN), Michael Glawogger (WHORE’S GLORY), Lasse Hallström (SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN), Jan Hrebejk (INNOCENCE), Mathieu Kassovitz (REBELLION), John Landis (BURKE AND HARE), Yorgos Lanthimos (ALPS), Christian Petzold (BEATS BEING DEAD), and André Techiné (UNFORGIVABLE). The three short films making up the Jeonju Digital Project 2011 are by the stellar trio of Jean-Marie Straub, Claire Denis, and José Luis Guerín.

The festival includes seven films that were selected to represent their nations in this year’s Academy Awards competition for Best Foreign-language film: BREATHING (Austria), LETTERS TO ANGEL (Estonia), BACK IN YOUR ARMS (Lithuania), SONNY BOY (Netherlands), JOSÉ & PILAR (Portugal), MORGEN (Romania), and BEYOND (Sweden).

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 2, our hosts are the Honorable Anne Mette Vestergaard, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Denmark, Washington, and the Honorable Jacob Anderson, Consul General of Denmark, Chicago. Our opening night film is A FUNNY MAN, the bittersweet story of how fame proves to be the undoing of a pair of scrappy standup comics.

Scheduled personal appearances include acclaimed British director Terence Davies with THE DEEP BLUE SEA on March 13, and Chicago-based film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum hosting a screening of AITA (Spain) by José María de Orbe on March 19. On March 23 and 24, Romanian director Lucian Georgescu appears with his film THE PHANTOM FATHER in tandem with American author (and former Chicagoan) Barry Gifford, on whose story the film is based. Other possible guest appearances were unconfirmed at press time; please check back for updates on appearances and added special events in association with screenings.

We close the festival on Thursday, March 29, with THE SALT OF LIFE, an affecting Italian comedy by Gianni Di Gregorio, director of the 2010 hit MID-AUGUST LUNCH. A reception by Whole Foods Market follows.

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

Purchase a European Union festival pass for $50!

6 movies at a reduced price, 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 $87 value for $50!

Vote for the Audience Award! Win an Annual Membership and a 2013 EU Festival Pass!

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 plus an EU Festival Pass (6 films + popcorn) for the 2013 festival! 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), THE WORLD IS BIG AND SALVATION LURKS AROUND THE CORNER (2010), and DESERT FLOWER (2011).

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

Austria: Dr. Thomas Schnoell, Joanne Ryan, 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; Arnaud Aubelle, Le Pacte; Miramar Film; Mila Petkova, Bulgarian National Film Center; Christian Nochev, Andy Film

Cyprus: Marinos Kartikkis

Czech Republic: Sylvia Pinterova, NiteFLIX; Dana Huntova, Consulate General of the Czech Republic

Denmark: Lizette Gram Mygind, Signe Egemose Agger, Danish Film Institute; Jacob Anderson, Lisbeth Christensen, Consulate General of Denmark

Estonia: Mati Sepping, Estinfilm; Tristan Priimägi, Estonian Film Foundation; Kaie-Ene Rääk, F-Seitse

Finland: Jenni Domingo, Finnish Film Foundation; Laura Salonen, Snapper Films

France: nstitut Français; Jean François Rochard, Laurence Geannopoulos, Cultural Services at the Consulate General of France in Chicago; Grégoire Graesslin, Kinology

Germany: Werner Ott, Irmi Maunu-Kocian, Goethe-Institut, Chicago

Greece: Liza Linardou, Greek Film Center

Hungary: Bela Bunyik, Bunyik Entertainment; Katalin Vajda, Magyar Filmunió, Hungarian National Film Fund; Michael A. Dobbin, Quiet Revolution Pictures

Ireland: Tim Reilly, Consulate General of Ireland, Chicago

Italy: Silvio Marchetti, Mary Anne Melchior, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Chicago; Barbara Klein, Italian Film Festival of St. Louis; Gianluca Bertogna; Latvia: Janis Vingris

Lithuania: Skaiste Aniuliene, Agné Vertelkaitè, Consulate General of the Republic of Lithuania in Chicago; Studio Uljana Kim

Luxembourg: Joy Hoffmann, Centre National de l’Audiovisuel (CAN)

Malta: Kenneth Scicluna, Lighthouse & Ashley

Netherlands: Peter Verheyen, Consulate General of the Netherlands, Chicago

Romania: Thomas Petit, Les Films du Losange; Lucian Georgescu, GAV

Slovakia: Alexandra Strelková, Slovak Film Institute; John Riley, Fog ‘n’ Desire Films; Ondrej Starinska, JMB Film and TV Production

Slovenia: Nerina Kocjancic, Slovenian Film Center

Spain: Ignacio Olmos, Teresa Hernando, Instituto Cervantes de Chicago; Montse Pedros, Eddie Saeta SA; Carlota Caso, Film Factory Entertainment

Sweden: Gunnar Almér, Swedish Film Insititute; Ulf G. Anvin, Consulate General of Sweden

and also: Lara Bogenrief, Allied-THA; Ryan Krivoshey, The Cinema Guild; Alex Garcia, FiGa Films; Rebeca Conget, Film Movement; Ryan Werner, Jonathan Hertzberg, Elizabeth Brambilla, Cary Jones, Kim Kalyka, IFC Films; Kyoung Min Yang, Un-Seong Yoo, Jeonju International Film Festival; Gary Palmucci, Jason Leaf, Kate Brokaw, Kino International; Ed Arentz, Brian Andreotti, Suzanne Fedak, Music Box Films; Jonathan Howell, Jose Lopez, New Yorker Films; Farhad Arshad, Jennifer Bonino, Olive Films; Jacob Wolter, Oscilloscope Laboratories; Paul Hudson; Outsider Films; Jessica Rosner, Palisades Tartan; Brandon Peters, Strand Releasing; Matthew Landers, Tribeca Film; Clemence Taillandier, Zeitgeist Films.

A FUNNY MAN

Country

Showtimes

Fri, Mar 2nd at 6:00pm
Sun, Mar 4th at 5:00pm
Average: 5 (2 votes)

Opening night film!

  1. A FUNNY MAN
  1. (DIRCH)
  2. 2011, Martin P. Zandvliet, Denmark, 109 min.
  3. With Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Lars Ranthe

As he demonstrated with actress Paprika Steen in the 2011 EUFF entry APPLAUSE, writer-director Zandvliet knows how to showcase a powerhouse performance. Nikolaj Lie Kaas (THE IDIOTS, BROTHERS) evokes RAGING BULL and ALL THAT JAZZ with his ferocious, fact-based portrayal of Dirch Passer, who was Denmark's top comedy star of the 1950s-1960s, roughly the equivalent of America's Lou Costello or Jerry Lewis. A FUNNY MAN depicts Dirch's stormy relationship with his longtime comedy partner Kjeld Petersen, his ill-fated attempt to become a serious actor, his booze-soaked personal life, and the fascinating vintage comedy routines that made him famous. In Danish with English subtitles. 35mm widescreen print courtesy of the Danish Film Institute. (MR)

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

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THE SALT OF LIFE

Country

Showtimes

Thu, Mar 29th at 6:15pm
Average: 5 (2 votes)

Closing night film!

  1. THE SALT OF LIFE
  1. (GIANNI E LE DONNE)
  2. 2011, Gianni Di Gregorio, Italy, 90 min.
  3. With Gianni Di Gregorio, Valeria De Franciscis Bendoni

“Thoroughly delightful.”
—Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Wittily observed, humorously understood and keenly felt.”
—Wally Hammond, Time Out London

THE SALT OF LIFE, actor-writer-director Di Gregorio’s follow-up to his captivating 2010 EUFF entry MID-AUGUST LUNCH, might be described as a coming-of-age story, but the twist is that the age is sixty, not sixteen. Di Gregorio once again brings his droll, baggy-eyed charm to the role of Gianni, an aging man saddled with a demanding, spendthrift mother (played again by the marvelous Bendoni), but this time the subject is not filial duty but autumnal lust. Still dazzled by the beautiful women around him, and unwilling to be relegated to the romantic sidelines, Gianni tries to pump up his sex appeal, with increasingly hilarious and rueful results. Some critics have read the film as a sly commentary on the overweening machismo of the Berlusconi era; Philip French (The Observer) characterized it as an Ealing comedy that deftly turns into a Chekhov story. In Italian with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Zeitgeist Films. 35mm. THE SALT OF LIFE will open at the Music Box Theatre this spring. (MR)

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.

UPDATE 3/26
Tickets for this show are now SOLD OUT!

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Films of the 15th Annual
European Union Film Festival

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A FUNNY MAN

Country

Showtimes

Fri, Mar 2nd at 6:00pm
Sun, Mar 4th at 5:00pm
Average: 5 (2 votes)

Opening night film!

  1. A FUNNY MAN
  1. (DIRCH)
  2. 2011, Martin P. Zandvliet, Denmark, 109 min.
  3. With Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Lars Ranthe

As he demonstrated with actress Paprika Steen in the 2011 EUFF entry APPLAUSE, writer-director Zandvliet knows how to showcase a powerhouse performance. Nikolaj Lie Kaas (THE IDIOTS, BROTHERS) evokes RAGING BULL and ALL THAT JAZZ with his ferocious, fact-based portrayal of Dirch Passer, who was Denmark's top comedy star of the 1950s-1960s, roughly the equivalent of America's Lou Costello or Jerry Lewis. A FUNNY MAN depicts Dirch's stormy relationship with his longtime comedy partner Kjeld Petersen, his ill-fated attempt to become a serious actor, his booze-soaked personal life, and the fascinating vintage comedy routines that made him famous. In Danish with English subtitles. 35mm widescreen print courtesy of the Danish Film Institute. (MR)

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

See video

PUTIN'S KISS

Country

Showtimes

Sat, Mar 10th at 2:00pm
Thu, Mar 15th at 8:15pm
Average: 3.5 (2 votes)
  1. PUTIN’S KISS
  1. 2012, Lise Birk Pedersen, Denmark, 85 min.

Some of the most acclaimed documentaries in the world (ARMADILLO, THE AMBASSADOR, THE RED CHAPEL, etc.) have been coming out of Denmark lately. Featured at the recent Sundance Film Festival, PUTIN’S KISS evokes Preston Sturges and Alexander Payne (especially ELECTION) in this sardonic yet ultimately touching portrait of Masha Drokova, an ambitious Russian teenager who attains insta-celebrity as “the girl who kissed Putin” and rises to power in Nashi, a controversial youth movement that supports Putin with Hitlerjugend-like fervor. When Masha debates a group of critical leftist journalists, her staunch right-wing principles begin to waver, and a shocking event brings her to a crossroad of decision. In Russian with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Kino Lorber. HDCAM video. (MR)

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THE GRAVEYARD KEEPER’S DAUGHTER

Country

Showtimes

Sat, Mar 17th at 9:15pm
Mon, Mar 19th at 8:15pm
No votes yet
  1. THE GRAVEYARD KEEPER’S DAUGHTER
  1. (SURNUAIAVAHI TÜTAR)
  2. 2011, Katrin Laur, Estonia, 100 min.
  3. With Maria Avdjushko, Rain Simmul

“Evocative fairy tale tropes...arthouse appeal.”
—Ronnie Scheib, Variety

The green beauty of a small village with quaint cottages and rambling churchyard belies the harshness that shadows 8-year-old Lucia’s childhood when her reckless, party-hearty parents leave the wistful girl to find her own way in the world. Family life slides into a tragic downward spiral, and yet life holds lovely secrets for a child whose eyes are truly open. Director Laur brings a touch of magic realism to bear in a story distinguished by emotional authenticity. In Estonian, Russian, and Finnish with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of the Estonian Film Foundation and Estinfilm. (BS)

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LETTERS TO ANGEL

Country

Showtimes

Sat, Mar 10th at 9:15pm
Sun, Mar 25th at 5:00pm
No votes yet
  1. LETTERS TO ANGEL
  1. (KIRJAD INGILE)
  2. 2011, Sulev Keedus, Estonia, 118 min.
  3. With Tõnu Oja, Tiina Tauraite

The images and scenarios generated by a haunted man’s brain give Estonia’s official submission for Oscar consideration a hallucinogenic beauty and strikingly surreal look that match the cryptic themes of its story. Kirotaja, a man accustomed to brutality, returns from the war in Afghanistan as a Muslim convert. Home is only a term for more chaos, with new battles to fight. His new life revolves around a search for the daughter he left behind, but does she really exist? In Estonian with English subtitles. DCP video courtesy of F-Seitse. (BS)

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HELLA W

Country

Showtimes

Sat, Mar 3rd at 2:00pm
Tue, Mar 6th at 6:00pm
Average: 4 (3 votes)
  1. HELLA W
  1. 2011, Juha Wuolijoki, Finland, 78 min.
  2. With Tiina Weckstrom, Hannu-Pekka Bjorkman

One of the most remarkable females of the 20th century, Hella Wuolijoki was a self-made woman--although "women" might be a better term: successful businesswoman, leading leftist, hugely popular playwright (including the source of the 1948 Oscar-winner THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER), accused spy, death-row inmate, member of parliament, and director of the Finnish national broadcasting company. Directed by her great-nephew, HELLA W is a stylish and concise biopic that wisely concentrates on a few facets of Wuolijoki’s stupendous life: her turn to writing after the 1929 Crash, her strained relationship with her daughter, and her imprisonment as a Soviet spy during World War II. In Finnish with English subtitles. 35mm widescreen print courtesy of Snapper Films. (MR)

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BELLE ÉPINE

Country

Showtimes

Fri, Mar 9th at 6:15pm
Sat, Mar 10th at 3:45pm
Average: 3 (1 vote)
  1. BELLE ÉPINE
  1. (aka DEAR PRUDENCE)
  2. 2010, Rebecca Zlotowski, France, 80 min.
  3. With Léa Seydoux, Agatha Schlenker

“Aside from a brilliant script, BELLE ÉPINE also totes an excellent performance from Léa Seydoux...a beautiful and haunting tale of delayed reaction and coming to terms with loss.”
—Marina Antunes, Quiet Earth

Léa Seydoux, one of the hottest young French actresses (LA BELLE PERSONNE, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, GHOST PROTOCOL), delivers a smolderingly intense performance as Prudence Friedman, a 16-year-old Jewish girl numbed by the recent death of her mother. Unable to find solace in religion, she turns to petty crime and is drawn into a world of casual sex and cheap thrills with a group of motorcycle racers. In this impressive first film, writer-director Zlotowski’s immersive style has earned comparisons to Maurice Pialat and Patrice Chéreau. The French title translates as “Beautiful Spine.” In French with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of the Institut Français. (MR)

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BLACK VENUS

Country

Showtimes

Sat, Mar 3rd at 2:15pm
Tue, Mar 6th at 7:30pm
Average: 5 (1 vote)
  1. BLACK VENUS
  1. (VÉNUS NOIRE)
  2. 2010, Abdellatif Kechiche, France, 164 min.
  3. With Yahima Torres, Olivier Gourmet

“Riveting...built around the phenomenal lead performance of Yahima Torres.”
—Melissa Anderson, Village Voice

BLACK VENUS retells the infamous true story of Saartjie Baartman, a young South African woman who in the early 19th century is lured to Europe where her prominent buttocks obtain a lifetime of exploitation as a sideshow attraction, prostitute, and scientific specimen. Yet, in a London trial against her manager, she refuses to be considered exploited and defends herself as an artist. Like Haneke and Buñuel, Tunisian-born French director Kechiche (THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN) uses an unflinching observational eye to fashion a complex and provocative statement on the complicity of the spectator. In French, English, and Afrikaans with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of the Institut Français. (MR)

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Comments

I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to see this movie. I'm about to tell about 10 people. PLEASE have it in the bigger theatre because the smaller theatre wouldn't be enough seats. Thanks! -Toya

DOMAIN

Country

Showtimes

Fri, Mar 16th at 6:00pm
Mon, Mar 19th at 6:00pm
Thu, Mar 22nd at 6:00pm
Average: 4 (2 votes)
  1. DOMAIN
  1. (DOMAINE)
  2. 2010, Patric Chiha, France, 110 min.
  3. With Béatrice Dalle, Isaïe Sultan

“My favorite film of the year. You’ll be left breathless by the sheer elegance of this astonishing little workout. “
—John Waters, Artforum

“Downright sexy.”
—Eric Kohn, IndieWIRE

Centering on the relationship between a nascently gay teenager and his black-ewe aunt, this well-reviewed first film has been compared to HAROLD AND MAUDE and Eric Rohmer. Arriving in Paris from the provinces, Pierre (Sultan) comes under the spell of brilliant, sensuous, heavy-drinking Nadia (the fearless Dalle of BETTY BLUE, NIGHT ON EARTH, and TROUBLE EVERY DAY); she helps him to grow up, but disillusionment with her will be the final stage in his maturation. A hypnotic dance in a nightclub was nominated by Keith Uhlich of Time Out New York as “an early contender for scene of the year.” In French with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Strand Releasing. DigiBeta video. (MR)

Additional show added!
Thursday, March 22, 6:00 pm
Replaces canceled show of SONNY BOY

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FREE MEN

Country

Showtimes

Sun, Mar 4th at 3:00pm
Thu, Mar 8th at 6:15pm
Average: 4.5 (2 votes)
  1. FREE MEN
  1. (LES HOMMES LIBRES)
  2. 2011, Ismaël Ferroukhi, France, 99 min.
  3. With Tahir Rahim, Lubna Azabal

Based on real characters and events, this stirring, culturally rich Resistance drama is set in the early 1940s, when large numbers of North Africans emigrated to Occupied France. After Younes (Rahim), a cynical black marketeer, is caught by the Nazis, he agrees to spy on the Paris Mosque, suspected of harboring Jewish refugees--an assignment that sparks his political awakening. Tahir Rahim is impressive in his first major role since A PROPHET, but the film is dominated by two charismatic supporting players: veteran Michel Lonsdale (OF GODS AND MEN) as the cagy rector of the mosque, and newcomer Mahmud Shalaby as an electrifying Algerian singing star with a dangerous secret. In French and Arabic with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Film Movement. 35mm widescreen. (MR)

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HORS SATAN

Country

Showtimes

Sat, Mar 24th at 2:45pm
Wed, Mar 28th at 6:00pm
No votes yet

U.S. premiere!

  1. HORS SATAN
  1. (aka OUTSIDE SATAN
  2. and BEYOND SATAN)
  3. 2011, Bruno Dumont, France, 110 min.
  4. With David Dewaele, Alexandra Lemâtre

“Utterly mesmerising, mysterious and brutal…Opening up to potentially limitless readings, HORS SATAN is the embodiment of what film festivals do best: enable discovery and surprise.”
—James Bell, Sight & Sound

“In the simplicity of the fable and the impressive economy of the mise en scène, Dumont’s most direct and most beautiful film."
—Cahiers du Cinéma

In this latest mix of mysticism and mayhem by the always audacious Dumont (TWENTYNINE PALMS, HADEWIJCH), a mysterious drifter known only as Le Gars (“The Guy”) acquires a disciple in the form of a teenaged village girl. She follows him through the countryside as he performs random acts of violence and healing. Is he good or evil, Christ or Satan, miracle-worker or charlatan? The astonishing climax might provide a clue, or perhaps only deepen the mystery. In French with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of New Yorker Films. 35mm widescreen. (MR)

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