The 13th European Union Film Festival opens in Gene Siskel Film Center this Friday, March 5. For the past thirteen years, this annual event brought together some of the best films from all European Union countries. As the European Union membership continued to grow, it’s selection got richer and more diverse. This year, 27 countries submitted 59 feature films, with each nation contributing at least one film.
Touching on all the films will be impossible within the scope of this article, so this writer will focus on films that will play during the upcoming weekend and cover to the rest in later installments.
The festival opens with The Dancer and the Thief, a Spanish film by Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba. Based on the novel by Antonio Skarmeta, this surreal, whimsical piece deals with the adventures of a seasoned safe-cracker and a young horse thief in post-Pinochet Chile. The Dancer and the Thief has been in the works for years, inspiring much anticipation among fans of Trueba’s work and European cinema in general. Those who can’t catch it on Friday will have a chance to see it on Thursday, March 11th at 8:00 PM.
Saturday will open with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, an engaging Swedish thriller that has become the highest grossing film in it’s country of origin. The film will play at 3:00 PM. The Forbidden Fruit is a coming-of-age story that focuses on teenagers from the Laestadian community, a fundamentalist Finnish Lutheran sect. The film will play at 3:15 PM on Saturday and 8:00 PM on Tuesday, May 9th. Mid-August Lunch, an Italian family drama, will play at 5:45 PM. The Hunt, a collection of interconnected vignettes set in the Latvian countryside allows director Andis Miziss a chance to muse about the nature of chance. It will play on Saturday at 5:45 PM and Wednesday, March 10th at 8:15 PM.
Ondine uses Irish myth as in inspiration to craft a modern tale of love and loss. Colin Farrell stars as Syracuse, the fisherman who catches a selkie, a seal that can shed it’s coat and walk on land as a human woman (played by Alicja Bachleda). The film will play on Saturday at 7:15 PM and on Wednesday, March 10th, at 6:00 PM.
Hooked is a Romanian psychological thriller that revolves around a cheating couple who accidentally kill a prostitute. It will play on Saturday at 7:30 PM and Thursday, March 11th, at 8:15 PM. The Bone Man is a comedic Austrian mystery that focuses on a stoic detective turned repo man (funnyman Josef Hader). It will play on Saturday at 9:15 PM and Monday, March 8th at 7:45 PM. Finally, A Film With Me In It is an absurdest Irish comedy that’s more than a little morbid, though over-the-top elements help to make it palatable and amusing. It will play on Saturday at 9:30 PM and Monday, March 9th at 6:00 PM.
Compared to Saturday, the Sunday schedule is rather sparse. It will feature two films. French Gigolo is a French comedy that revolves around a businesswoman falling in love with a titular (and married) gigolo. It will play at 3:00 PM on Sunday and at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, March 17th. Modus Aparatus is a Belgian documentary that tries to examine how the the occupying Nazi forces managed to organize the deportation of 25,000 Belgian Jews. The film features a wealth of previously unseen film footage, photographs and documents, which allows director Hugues Lanneau to give the audience unprecedented insight into the events. The film will play at 3:15 PM on Sunday and at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, March 9th.
Tickets cost $9:00 for adults, $7:00 for students and $5.00 for the members of Gene Siskel Center and/or the Art Institute of Chicago. The attendants can also buy a $50 pass that will allow them to watch up to six of the festival’s films.
Gene Siskel Film Center can be reached via State/Lake Red Line station and Lake/State Brown, Green, Orange, Pink and Purple Line station, as well as CTA bus routes # 2, 6, 10, 29, 36, 62, 144, 145, 147 and 147. There are plenty of parking garages in the Center’s vicinity, but (as it’s usually the case with downtown parking) hourly rates are far from cheap.
For more info:
The Official 13th Annual European Union Film Festival page