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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Tue, Mar 13th at 8:00pm
Average: 3.1 (17 votes)

Terence Davies in person!

  1. 2011, Terence Davies, UK, 98 min.
  2. With Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston

“Terence Davies is England's greatest living filmmaker."
—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

In partnership with Music Box Films, the Film Center is pleased to welcome one of Britain’s greatest filmmakers, Terence Davis (DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES; OF TIME AND THE CITY). THE DEEP BLUE SEA is Davies’s first fiction film since 2000’s THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, and, like that film, it is a model of inspired adaptation. Terence Rattigan’s 1952 drama is considered a showcase for its leading actress (predecessors include Vivien Leigh, Peggy Ashcroft, and Blythe Danner), and Rachel Weisz more than measures up to that distinguished company with her heart-wrenching performance as Hester Collyer, a postwar London woman who impulsively leaves her aging husband for a dashing but diffident ex-RAF pilot. This is British romance in the vein of BRIEF ENCOUNTER and THE END OF AFFAIR, sharpened by shabbiness and regret. THE DEEP BLUE SEA represents cinema classicism at its finest, filled with sweeping camera movements, evocative period decor, and spectacularly tenuous lighting that can be fully appreciated only on the big screen. In English. Special advance screening courtesy of Music Box films. 35mm. (MR)

Director Terence Davies will be present for audience discussion.

Note: No free passes or blue tickets will be valid for this screening.

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Fri, Mar 9th at 6:00pm
Sun, Mar 11th at 3:00pm
Average: 5 (1 vote)
  1. 2011, Julie Gavras, UK/France, 95 min.
  2. With Isabella Rossellini, William Hurt

French director Gavras (BLAME IT ON FIDEL) crosses the channel for this wry and wistful look at the difficulties of growing old gracefully. Hurt and Rossellini co-star as London architect Adam (complete with British accent) and his Italian-born wife Mary. With the big six-oh looming up, Mary bravely reconciles herself to a future of bifocals and big-buttoned telephones, while Adam tries to evade the inevitable by consorting with a group of young architecture students. Joanna Lumley (AbFab) has a juicy supporting role as Mary’s sharp-tongued Silver Panther friend. In English. Special advance screening courtesy of Olive Films. HDCAM video. (MR)

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Sat, Mar 24th at 3:00pm
Mon, Mar 26th at 6:15pm
Average: 4 (3 votes)
  1. 2012, Grant Gee, UK, 90 min.
  2. Narrated by Jonathan Pryce

“Immensely enjoyable…should make anyone want to read The Rings of Saturn.”
—Philip French, The Observer

Following his films on Radiohead and Joy Division, documentarian Gee turns to a cult figure of a different sort: W.G. Sebald, the revered German-born writer who spent much of his life as an expatriate in Britain. PATIENCE (the title derives from a solitaire game in one of Sebald’s novels) focuses on what many consider his greatest work, The Rings of Saturn, revisiting the flat, eerie, war-haunted Suffolk landscapes that form the basis of the book’s unclassifiable mixture of fiction, travelogue, autobiography, and photography. The journey is illuminated by Pryce’s readings from the book and by commentaries from the late author’s acquaintances and admirers, including artist Tacita Dean, writer Iain Sinclair, filmmaker Chris Petit, poet Andrew Motion, and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. In English. Special advance screening courtesy of The Cinema Guild. HDCAM video. (MR)

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Sat, Mar 3rd at 7:15pm
Average: 4.6 (5 votes)
  1. 2011, Lasse Hallström, UK, 112 min.
  2. With Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas

Satire and romance go hand-in-hand in this charming concoction from veteran director Hallström (MY LIFE AS A DOG, CHOCOLAT), adapted by screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (THE FULL MONTY, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) from Paul Torday’s novel. McGregor plays a fusty Scottish scientist whose skepticism is challenged by a far-fetched scheme to introduce salmon fishing in the Yemen desert and by the pretty rep (Blunt) who’s pitching the idea. Scott Thomas nearly steals the film as a gung-ho Downing Street flack eager to make political hay out of the situation. In English. Special advance screening courtesy of CBS Films. 35mm. (MR)

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Sun, Mar 25th at 4:45pm
Average: 4.3 (3 votes)
  1. 2011, Andrea Arnold, UK, 129 min.
  2. With Kaya Scodelario, James Howson

“Andrea Arnold’s stark, defiantly naturalistic new version succeeds brilliantly in injecting the shock of the new into this well-thumbed English classic.”
—Kate Stables, Sight & Sound

Not for purists, Andrea Arnold’s controversial adaptation brings the raw edge of RED ROAD and FISH TANK to the Emily Brontë classic, complete with rough language, kinky eroticism, nonprofessional actors, handheld camerawork, and Heathcliff reconceived as a runaway black slave. But there’s more than sensationalism to Arnold’s method, which knocks out the starch left by most previous adaptations and restores much of the wild spirit of the novel. The childhood scenes between Cathy and Heathcliff are especially intense, and the Yorkshire Moors are rendered with a rugged beauty that is pure Brontë. In English. Special advance screening courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories. 35mm. (MR)

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