October 5, 2007

East Europe at Chicago Film Fest

The Chicago film fest began this week, and it runs until Oct. 17. There looks to be a strong showing of films from our region of the world (mostly central Europe; though a disappointing lack of films from the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia), so I decided to run through the program and list the films from our region in order to save you that step.

The full program is available here. The locations are spread throughout the city, and the program is rich with material.

There's an especially extensive list of films from Hungary, as well as an-person discussion with famed Hungarian film-maker Istvan Szazbo (Mephisto). The Romanian film 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS & 2 DAYS has already been generating great reviews for a year, and I hear that the Czech film I SERVED THE KING OF ENGLAND (OBSLUHOVAL JSEM ANGLICKÉHO KRÁLE) will be really good.

Below, I've culled the films from the CEERES region:

Director: Aleksei Mizgiryov
First-time director Aleksei Mizgiryov, who picked up the Best Debut prize at the Sochi Open Russian Film Festival, looks at the stark reality of Moscow through the eyes of Anton, a young war vet from the countryside. Anton’s rosy vision of the city, fueled by memories of a lost love, is quickly squashed on his first encounter with the city’s crooked cops. 82 min.
Wed 10/10 | 9:45pm | LM3 | EHHD1
Thurs 10/11 | 6:45pm | LM2 | EHHD2
Mon 10/15 | 7:15pm | AMC9 | EHHD3

Director: Cristian Mungiu
Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, 4 Months combines documentary-style camerawork with naturalistic acting to draw viewers into a raw, realistic world. It’s 1987, at the tail end of the Ceausescu era in Romania, and college roommates Otilia and Gabita live in fear and oppression. Gabita is pregnant, and together they prepare to meet with a cruel abortionist who asks them for more than money in return for his dangerous and illegal procedure. Romanian with English subtitles. 113 min.
Sun 10/7 | 6:00pm | AMC4 | EMWD1
Tues 10/9 | 8:45pm | LM3 | EMWD2

Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev
The power of The Banishment, like director Andrei Zvyagintsev’s previous film, 2004’s Golden Globe®-nominated The Return, lies in the information that is withheld from the audience. Alex hurries his wife, Vera, and two children from an anonymous city to the stilly, bucolic countryside, where Vera reveals to Alex a shocking secret—she’s pregnant, and the child isn’t his. Russian with English subtitles. 150 min.
Sun 10/7 | 7:30pm | LM4 | EBAN1
Mon 10/8 | 8:15pm | LM3 | EBAN2
Tues 10/16 | 4:30pm | AMC4 | EBAN3

Director: János Szász
Based on the infamous writings of Hungarian psychoanalyst Geza Csath, Opium peers inside the chilling confines of an experimental institute for the mentally ill in the early 20th century. Though the film offers plenty of hair-raising glimpses of archaic instruments and barbarous medical procedures, the focus is on the increasingly symbiotic relationship between a morphine-addicted doctor and one tormented patient, whose voluminous diaries offer a window into her ravaged brain. Hungarian with English subtitles. 110 min.
Wed 10/10 | 6:45pm | AMC4 | EOIM1
Thurs 10/11 | 9:30pm | AMC7 | EOIM2
Tues 10/16 | 4:15pm | LM7 | EOIM3

Directors: Krzysztof Krauze, Joanna Kos-Krauze
Savior’s Square, which has already racked up five top awards from the Polish Film Festival and four more from the Polish Film Awards, offers a devastating glimpse into a family’s struggle to stay afloat in post-Communist Poland. After losing his money in an apartment scam, Bartek is forced to move his wife and sons into his mother’s tiny Warsaw apartment. Personal hostilities within the apartment come to a boiling point as family values disintegrate. Polish with English subtitles. 105 min.
Tues 10/9 | 4:45pm | AMC4 | ESSQ1
Wed 10/10 | 7:00pm | LM3 | ESSQ2
Thurs 10/11 | 7:00pm | LM4 | ESSQ3

Director: Jirí Menzel
Czech Republic / Slovakia
Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, this irreverent black comedy blends razorship wit and blunt tragedy into a no-holds-barred social commentary. The King begins in the 1950s with Jan Díte (Ivan Barnev) being released from a 15-year imprisonment imposed by the Communists. Flash back to the ’30s, when womanizing Jan, an ambitious go-getter who longs to be a rich hotelier, hooks up with a fervent Aryan as the Nazis begin to invade. Czech and German with English subtitles. 120 min.
Wed 10/10 | 9:00pm | AMC9 | ESKE1
Thurs 10/11 | 6:30pm | AMC7 | ESKE2
Tues 10/16 | 5:00pm | LM3 | ESKE3

Director: Bollók Csaba
Beautiful compositions of a criminally unfortunate way of life make for an eye-opening, dramatic experience in Iska’s Journey. Daily, poor young Iska must salvage enough scrap metal from the trash heaps to keep her witchy mother in booze and cigarettes. One day she and a lovestruck fellow ragamuffin decide to escape to the place of Iska’s dreams, the seaside—but the journey could lead to an even worse fate. Hungarian with English subtitles. 92 min.
Wed 10/10 | 8:45pm | LM7 | EIZJ1
Thurs 11/11 | 9:15pm | LM7 | EIZJ2
Sat 10/13 | 12:00pm | AMC4 | EIZJ3

Director: Béla Tarr
Hungarian master filmmaker Béla Tarr follows 2000’s award winning stunner Werckmeister Harmonies with another black-and-white masterpiece that is at once dreamy, genuine, eerie, and breathtaking. After witnessing a murder, railway worker Maloin’s quiet life of seaside isolation changes forever. Forced to examine his thoughts on crime and punishment, Maloin begins to question his own worth and the meaning of his existence. Hungarian with English subtitles. 132 min.
Thurs 10/11 | 4:15pm | LM3 | EMFL1
Fri 10/12 | 6:30pm | LM4 | EMFL2
Sun 10/14 | 8:45pm | AMC9 | EMFL3

Director: Károly Esztergályos
Middle-aged Tibor, unhappy in his marriage and career, never considered bisexuality, but a manipulative 19-year-old male prostitute pursues him and ignites a sexual passion and artistic inspiration that Tibor feared he’d lost forever. Bold and affecting visuals lead us through a rocky relationship plagued by the human fear of aging as well as the potentially tragic interplay between love and sexuality. Hungarian with English subtitles. 94 min.
Fri 10/5 | 10:00pm | AMC9 | EMIN1
Mon 10/15 | 9:45pm | LM3 | EMIN2
Tues 10/16 | 7:30pm | LM3 | EMIN3

Director: Jim Loftus
Against the backdrop of a high-stakes Bulgarian election, this dense political thriller finds an ingenuous, low-level CIA officer and her disgruntled boss trying to strike a dangerous deal with the prime minister’s top political officer, who desperately needs to finance his campaign. In a world where information buys money and money buys power, everyone along the trade routes faces questions of duty and betrayal. English and Bulgarian with English subtitles. 117 min.
Fri 10/5 | 9:30pm | LM2 | ETRR1
Sun 10/14 | 12:15pm | AMC9 | ETRR2
Mon 10/15 | 9:45pm | AMC7 | ETRR3

István Szabó
Friday, October 12 6:45 p.m.
Landmark’s Century
Centre Cinema
2828 N. Clark St.
The always entertaining Hungarian director István Szabó (Sunshine, Being Julia) spends an evening at the festival speaking on the intimacy and the insight that can be achieved with the use of the close-up in film. Szabó has said that film has “one singular quality that no other art form can supply. The moving picture is capable of showing us a living human face in close-up: this ability is the source of its special energy.” In his carefully cast films, Szabó perceptively uses close-ups to convey what he has called “life’s beautiful changes, the constant movements of the human expression in the most intimate moment, in the moment of its birth.” Szabó received an Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film for Mephisto, one masterpiece in a trilogy that includes Colonel Redl and Hanussen. Now is your chance to get up close and personal with one of the world’s great film artists.


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