The 15th Annual European Union Film Festival


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.




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

Opening night film!

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

Closing night film!

  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.

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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Sun, Mar 18th at 2:30pm
Thu, Mar 22nd at 6:00pm
No votes yet
  2. 2011, Mathieu Kassovitz, France, 136 min.
  3. With Mathieu Kassovitz, Iabe Lapacas

“An intelligent and provocative political drama that marks Kassovitz’s auteur comeback in no uncertain terms.”
—Jonathan Romney, BFI London Film Festival

Actor-director Kassovitz returns to the stylistically and politically explosive form of LA HAINE with this gripping true story of a 1988 uprising on the remote Pacific colony of New Caledonia. When native separatists take French hostages, an elite police negotiating team under Capt. Legorjus (Kassovitz) races to defuse the situation, but, with a presidential election imminent, candidate Jacques Chirac sees a golden opportunity to win votes from the far right. REBELLION boasts vigorous camerawork and a superb screenplay that lucidly distills a volatile situation without sacrificing either its complexity or its momentum. In French with English subtitles. 35mm widescreen print courtesy of Kinology. (MR)

Please note: the trailer below is not subtitled. Our presentations will be subtitled in English.

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Sat, Mar 17th at 7:00pm
Wed, Mar 21st at 6:00pm
Average: 4 (1 vote)
  2. 2011, André Téchiné, France, 108 min.
  3. With André Dussollier, Carole Bouquet

“One of Téchiné’s best films…intricately and beautifully plotted.”
—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Film Comment

“A dense, fast-moving film…seductive setting, extraordinary performances.”
—Howard Feinstein, Screen Daily

Impulse, speedboats, detectives, errant children, and foolish parents are among the many strands in this rich, multifaceted narrative from acclaimed director Téchiné (WILD REEDS, THIEVES). Plagued with writer’s block, a popular French crime novelist (Dussollier) rents a villa on the outskirts of Venice (seen from a refreshingly non-touristy perspective). There he encounters a series of distractions that delay his novel but reconnect him with life, including an expatriate real-estate agent (Bouquet) he falls in love with, an eccentric sleuth (Adriana Asti) who was once her lover, and his own daughter, who deserts her family to take up with a drug-dealing aristocrat. In French and Italian with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Strand Releasing. HD-CAM. (MR)

Please note: the trailer below is not subtitled. Our presentations will be subtitled in English.

Ticket holders to the Wednesday, March 21 screening are invited to a pre-screening wine reception at 5:00 pm hosted by Alliance Française.

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Sun, Mar 25th at 2:30pm
Mon, Mar 26th at 6:00pm
Average: 4 (1 vote)
  2. 2011, Daniel Auteuil, France, 107 min.
  3. With Daniel Auteuil, Astrid Berges-Frisbey

In his directorial debut, noted actor Auteuil (CACHÉ, GIRL ON THE BRIDGE) reconnects with Marcel Pagnol, literary source for the 1986 adaptations of JEAN DE FLORETTE and MANON OF THE SPRING that gave him his breakthrough early role. In this remake of Pagnol’s classic 1940 film, Auteuil directs with pictorial beauty and emotional resonance while delivering a superb performance as Pascal, a beleaguered rural widower with six daughters, the eldest of whom becomes pregnant by a handsome young bourgeois whose snobbish parents (Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Sabine Azéma) refuse to acknowledge her predicament. In French with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Kino Lorber. 35mm. (MR)

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The Dreileben Trilogy

“One of the most ambitious and exciting cinematic events of the year.”

—Isabel Stevens, Sight & Sound

An email challenge from veteran director Dominik Graf to Berlin School hotshots Christian Petzold and Cristoph Hochhäusler resulted in the three directors collaborating on a trilogy designed to break down the barriers between art cinema and the commercial mainstream. Compared by critics to Twin Peaks, the Pusher trilogy, and Kieslowski’s Three Colors (but with a multi-auteur twist), Dreileben tells three free-standing stories from three different perspectives in three distinctly different styles, while the plot thread of an escaped serial killer weaves through the background of the first two and comes to the foreground in the third. All in German with English subtitles. HDCAM videos courtesy of Bavaria Film International. This program was made possible through the support of the Goethe-Institut Chicago.



Sat, Mar 10th at 2:00pm
Tue, Mar 13th at 6:00pm
Average: 3.7 (6 votes)
  3. 2011, Christian Petzold, Germany, 88 min.
  4. With Jacob Matschenz, Luna Zimic Mijovic

A convicted murderer escapes from a hospital; a male nurse who works there pursues a romance with a maid at a nearby hotel. EUFF favorite Petzold (WOLFSBURG, JERICHOW, etc.) creates an unsettling mood with his customary chilling precision; the wind-rustled woods have never seemed more menacing, and Julie London’s “Cry Me a River” is used to haunting effect. (MR)

Dreileben discount!
Buy a ticket at our regular prices to any film in the Dreileben trilogy and get a ticket to any screening of either or both of the other films at this discount rate (tickets must be purchased at the same time): General Admission $7; Students $6; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second and third films only. Discount rate available only at the Film Center box office.)

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Sat, Mar 10th at 3:45pm
Wed, Mar 14th at 6:15pm
Average: 5 (1 vote)
  2. 2011, Dominik Graf, Germany, 88 min.
  3. With Jeanette Hain, Susanne Wolff

Psychologist Johanna (Hain) is brought in to assist with the manhunt. She stays with her old friend Vera (Wolff) and discovers that they both had affairs with the same man. Less of a thriller than the other two parts, Graf’s entry concentrates on personal relationships and the tension between Johanna and the local police, while a fairy-tale motif introduces a supernatural undertone into the proceedings. (MR)

Dreileben discount!
Buy a ticket at our regular prices to any film in the Dreileben trilogy and get a ticket to any screening of either or both of the other films at this discount rate (tickets must be purchased at the same time): General Admission $7; Students $6; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second and third films only. Discount rate available only at the Film Center box office.)

Please note: the trailer below is not subtitled. Our presentations will be subtitled in English.

See video




Sat, Mar 10th at 5:30pm
Wed, Mar 14th at 8:00pm
Average: 3.3 (3 votes)
  2. 2011, Cristoph Hochhäusler, Germany, 90 min.
  3. With Stefan Kurt, Eberhard Kirchberg

The thriller plot takes over the foreground as the narrative alternates between the escaped killer Molesch (Kurt) and an aging police detective (Kirchberg) whose obsessive pursuit of the case unearths unexpected results. Highlights include a superb chase on a bridge and a FRANKENSTEIN-like interlude between the fugitive and a little girl. (MR)

Dreileben discount!
Buy a ticket at our regular prices to any film in the Dreileben trilogy and get a ticket to any screening of either or both of the other films at this discount rate (tickets must be purchased at the same time): General Admission $7; Students $6; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second and third films only. Discount rate available only at the Film Center box office.)

Please note: the trailer below is not subtitled. Our presentations will be subtitled in English.

See video




Sun, Mar 25th at 2:45pm
Wed, Mar 28th at 8:15pm
Average: 5 (3 votes)
  1. 2011, Corinna Belz, Germany, 97 min.

Often considered the greatest living painter, Gerhard Richter is notoriously camera-averse and taciturn...which makes it all the more remarkable that director Belz was given unprecedented access to film this up-close documentary over a period of three years. She patiently gets Richter to open up about his art and life, including a moving recollection of his complete break from his East German past. But the most astounding revelations are done silently, with squeegee in hand, as we watch him evolve two new paintings in a never-ending process of dissatisfaction and revision. These paintings-in-progress scenes, the heart of the film, form a compelling illustration of Richter’s credo, “Painting is another form of thinking.” In German and English with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Kino Lorber. HDCAM video. (MR)

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Sun, Mar 18th at 5:00pm
Wed, Mar 21st at 6:00pm
Average: 4 (1 vote)
  2. 2011, Ulrich Köhler, Germany, 91 min.
  3. With Pierre Bokma, Jean-Christophe Folly

“One of this year’s very best films.”
—Michael Sicinski, Cargo

“Represents what the NYFF, or any festival for that matter, does best: introducing a smart, savvy filmmaker.”
—Kent Turner, Film-Forward

A major discovery at the Berlin (where it won the Best Director prize) and New York Film Festivals, SLEEPING SICKNESS is an unsettling tale of Africa, Europeans, and neocolonialism, divided into two asymmetrical parts. The first part centers on a white doctor (Bokma) who, after fighting an epidemic in the Cameroon, plans to rejoin his wife and daughter in Germany, but... The narrative jumps forward three years, now following a black Parisian doctor sent to the area to report on an aid program overseen by a white doctor who has apparently “gone native.” The first part evokes WHITE MATERIAL, the second APOCALYPSE NOW, but Köhler keeps steering the film in unexpected directions, including an amazing final image. In German, Dutch, and French with English subtitles. 35mm. This program was made possible through the support of the Goethe-Institut Chicago. (MR)

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Sat, Mar 24th at 7:30pm
Mon, Mar 26th at 8:15pm
Average: 5 (1 vote)
  1. ALPS
  1. (ALPEIS)
  2. 2011, Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece/France, 93 min.
  3. With Aris Servetalis, Johnny Vekris

“As bizarre and elliptical as DOGTOOTH…has the power to draw the viewer into its hermetic web.”
—Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“There’s a pleasure to be had in watching the progress of a European auteur who has something genuinely new to say.”
—Lee Marshall, Screen Daily

Following the Oscar-nominated DOGTOOTH, director Lanthimos tackles yet another darkly comic story in which his characters conjure up a bizarre alternate world. A nurse, a paramedic, a gymnast, and her coach hire themselves out as unorthodox grief counselors, moving in with families that have lost loved ones and impersonating the deceased, right down to wearing their clothes, adopting their mannerisms, and revisiting family fights. Complications abound. In Greek with English subtitles. Special advance screening courtesy of Kino Lorber. HDCAM video. (BS)

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Fri, Mar 16th at 8:15pm
Mon, Mar 19th at 8:15pm
Average: 2 (2 votes)

U.S. premiere!

  1. (TRITI)
  2. 2010, Nikos Kornilios, Greece, 95 min.
  3. With Nikos Flesiopoulous, Dimitra Mitropoulou

Over the course of one day, the life trajectories of disparate Athenians will be changed by love, lust, rejection, and death. A girl in a wheelchair waits impatiently for the blind date arranged by her sister; a shy immigrant stumbles through an audition for a job as a pole dancer; a gallery director hits on a handsome but strangely unresponsive book-binder; two amateur burglars try for the big score; and a DJ with ED looks for relief. Director Kornilios’s improvisational methods have been likened to those of Mike Leigh. In Greek with English subtitles. DigiBeta video courtesy of the Greek Film Center. (BS)

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