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.

See video

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!

See video

Films of the 15th 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 reset the menu back to default, set the values for each drop-down as "ANY" and click "Apply".

WELCOME TO "ALL SAINTS"

Country

Showtimes

Fri, Mar 9th at 8:00pm
Mon, Mar 12th at 8:00pm
Average: 4.5 (4 votes)
  1. WELCOME TO “ALL SAINTS”
  1. (AP’TA KOKALA VGALMENA)
  2. 2011, Sotiris Goritsas, Greece, 88 min.
  3. With Argyris Xafis, Dimitris Imelos

A crisis in the health care system may be just another side effect of Greece’s financial woes, but for director Goritsas it became fodder for this biting black comedy based on a real doctor’s exposé book, and set in a hospital just this side of hell. A young doctor arriving to intern with a respected mentor finds that hypocrisy trumps the Hippocratic Oath when everyone from the janitor on up is on the take. Strange transactions take place in the morgue, and even stranger ones in the operating room, where death might seem a welcome respite from chaos. In Greek with English subtitles. DigiBeta video courtesy of the Greek Film Center. (BS)

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

See video

GLASS TIGER 3

Country

Showtimes

Sun, Mar 4th at 7:15pm
Thu, Mar 8th at 8:15pm
Average: 3.5 (8 votes)
  1. GLASS TIGER 3
  1. (ÜVEGTIGRIS 3)
  2. 2011, Péter Rudolf, Hungary, 107 min.
  3. With Péter Rudolf, Imre Csuja

The title of this madcap comedy comes from the name of the ramshackle mobile snack bar owned by Louie, a middle-aged dweeb whose best friends are a pack of well-meaning buffoons. A misplaced truckload of watermelons and a toothpick are the catalysts for a story that has Louie roaring down the road to Budapest in a stolen convertible with a gorgeous babe by his side, while the car’s owner is left bound and gagged in an ambulance. Don’t ask! This is a film to see and savor for its high spirits and its gleeful, politically incorrect humor. In Hungarian with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of the Hungarian National Film Fund. (BS)

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

See video

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THE MAIDEN DANCED TO DEATH

Country

Showtimes

Sun, Mar 25th at 7:15pm
Thu, Mar 29th at 8:15pm
Average: 4 (2 votes)

U.S. premiere!

  1. THE MAIDEN DANCED TO DEATH
  1. (A HALÁLBA TÁNCOLTATOTT LEÁNY)
  2. 2011, Endre Hules, Hungary/Canada/Slovenia, 100 min.
  3. With Endre Hules, Bea Melkui

Two estranged brothers come together for an uneasy faceoff after more than twenty years, discovering that sibling rivalry and memories of betrayal remain as close to the surface as ever. Pista, exiled in the Communist era, is now a hustling, high-powered events-promoter. Gyula, married to his brother’s former lover, is director of the dance company that was once Pista’s. Rousing renditions of intricate Hungarian and Slovak folk dances are integral to the story, largely set against Budapest’s most famous vistas, and all captured by legendary Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. In Hungarian and English with English subtitles. DCP video courtesy of Quiet Revolution Pictures. (BS)

See video

RETRACE

Country

Showtimes

Fri, Mar 16th at 8:15pm
Sat, Mar 17th at 9:00pm
Average: 4.5 (2 votes)
  1. RETRACE
  1. 2011, Judit Elek,
  2. Hungary/Romania/Sweden, 98 min.
  3. With Kathleen Gati, András Demeter

Two stories set in Ceausescu’s Romania merge in a Transylvanian town. Katherine, a Holocaust survivor returning with her family to her birthplace, finds present-day change less disconcerting than traumatic dreams of the past. In the nearby forest, her childhood friend Sandor, a game warden, deals with the imminent arrival of the big boss himself for a hunting holiday. With the region in police lockdown and gripped by paranoia pending Ceausescu’s visit, a tragedy play out, with infidelity rather than politics the cause. In Hungarian, Romanian, and English with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of the Hungarian National Film Fund. (BS)

Jan Lisa Huttner, JUF News columnist and author of the newly published book Penny's Picks: 50 Movies by Women Filmmakers 2002 - 2011, will moderate an audience discussion following the Friday screening.

See video

PARKED

Country

Showtimes

Fri, Mar 23rd at 6:00pm
Sat, Mar 24th at 7:15pm
Average: 4.8 (6 votes)
  1. PARKED
  1. 2010, Darragh Byrne, Ireland/Finland, 94 min.
  2. With Colm Meaney, Colin Morgan

Ireland’s plummeting economy has left Fred Daly (Meaney) living in his beat-up Mazda in a parking lot with an ocean view. Efforts to maintain the illusion of respectability to the outside world are challenged when new neighbor Cathal (Morgan) arrives in an adjacent parking space. The lively, charismatic young junkie brings a new spark to Fred’s spare existence, cheering him on to romance with a Finnish piano teacher among other adventures. Cathal also brings a load of psychic baggage and trouble, and for better or for worse, Fred’s life will never be the same. In English. Special advance screening courtesy of Olive Films. HDCAM video. (BS)

See video

THE RUNWAY

Country

Showtimes

Sat, Mar 10th at 7:15pm
Mon, Mar 12th at 6:00pm
Average: 4 (2 votes)
  1. THE RUNWAY
  1. 2010, Ian Power
  2. Ireland/Luxembourg, 101 min.
  3. With Demián Bichir, Kerry Condon

Winner of the Galway Film Festival’s Best Irish Feature, and inspired by an actual 1983 event, THE RUNWAY tells a zany, stranger-than-fiction story of what happens in a rural Irish town when a Latin American pilot lands his crippled plane in a cow pasture. The pilot Ernesto (Bichir, Oscar-nominated this year for A BETTER LIFE) is not the romantic hero he seems to nine-year-old Paco, a lonely boy in search of a father figure, but pidgin Spanish and a heaping helping of imagination weave a legend that the sleepy community buys into with gusto. Special advance screening courtesy of Olive Films. In English. HDCAM video. (BS)

See video

IMMATURI

Country

Showtimes

Sun, Mar 11th at 5:00pm
Thu, Mar 15th at 8:15pm
Average: 3.7 (3 votes)
  1. IMMATURI
  1. (aka THE IMMATURE)
  2. 2011, Paolo Genovese, Italy, 108 min.
  3. With Isabelle Adriana, Ambra Angiolini

This lively and engaging romantic comedy-drama, whose ensemble structure is reminiscent of THE BIG CHILL and THE LAST KISS, was a big box-office hit in Italy, where the esame di maturità (high-school matriculation exam) is a major rite-of-passage. A group of six former school friends (including a chef, a priest, a real estate agent, a radio host, and a recovering sex addict) are thrown together again twenty years later when they receive word that their exam results have been annulled by a technicality and they have to take it over again! When they buckle down to study together, they discover that their post-school lives hardly deserve high marks, but this mishap might provide a chance for them to graduate into true maturity. In Italian with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of Gianluca Bertogna. (MR)

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!

See video

THREE TO DANCE

Country

Showtimes

Sat, Mar 10th at 9:15pm
Mon, Mar 12th at 8:00pm
Average: 4.3 (3 votes)
  1. THREE TO DANCE
  1. (DANCIS PA TRIM)
  2. 2011, Arvid Krievs, Latvia, 110 min.
  3. With Janis Vingris, Kristine Nevarauska, Martin Freimanis

Set against a WWII background of shifting national boundaries, when the small nation of Latvia is battered by successive invasions, this colorful historical drama is driven by a conflicted romance at its center. A visit to his grandmother becomes the catalyst for a man’s search into the past, and a gripping story of a love triangle plays out in flashback. A young girl is caught between loyalty to her fiancé and a growing love for the Nazi officer who courts her, but indecision threatens deadly consequences. In Latvian with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of Janis Vingris. (BS)

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

See video

BACK IN YOUR ARMS

Country

Showtimes

Sat, Mar 17th at 4:45pm
Wed, Mar 21st at 8:15pm
Average: 4.1 (11 votes)
  1. BACK IN YOUR ARMS
  1. (KAI APKABINSIU TAVE)
  2. 2010, Kristijonas Vildziunas, Lithuania, 90 min
  3. With Elžbieta Latėnaitė, Andrius Bialobžeskis

“An effective mood piece from the Cold War.”
—Steve Pond, The Wrap

Lithuania’s official entry for this year’s foreign-language Oscar, BACK IN YOUR ARMS swept every major category in the country’s Silver Crane film awards. This tense and touching story is set in Berlin in 1961, just before erection of the Wall. Ruta, a young Lithuanian American woman who has come to West Berlin to study, learns that her father, long-separated from her on the other side of the Iron Curtain, wants to meet her in East Berlin. Ruta’s friends and family warn her that this is a Stasi trap, but she is relentlessly drawn by a desire to reunite with the father she barely knew. In Lithuanian, German, Russian, and English with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of Studio Uljana Kim and the Consulate General of the Republic of Lithuania, Chicago. (MR)

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

See video