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2012 — 48th Chicago Film Festival

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France

A Monkey on My Shoulder A Monkey on My Shoulder

Mila (Juliette Binoche) and Javier are brilliant heart surgeons and passionately in love. While their professional lives are clinical and require precision and perfection, their married life is entirely opposite - they drink, eat and make love to excess. When Mila discovers she is pregnant, she and Javier continue to deny what everyone else recognizes: that Javier is an alcoholic. As her pregnancy develops, their impulsive and unpredictable relationship is derailed - and held together by ego, addiction and hope.

French with subtitles, 91 min

After Lucia After Lucia

Teenager Alé (short for “Alejandra”) is mourning her mother and lonely in a new school. When a video emerges of her drunkenly having sex in a bathroom, she immediately becomes a target for the popular kids. Their torments grow in intensity and cruelty, wearing down the weary Alé’s resistance. After Lucia’s intense, shocking exploration of the violent effects of bullying earned it the prestigious Un Certain Regard prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Spanish with subtitles, 102 min

Agon Agon

A powerful drama about cultural conflict and the strength of familial bonds, Agon explores the relationship between Albanian brothers who must deal with prejudice treatment and bigotry in a new country. Saimir is well-established and thriving with a stable job and a fiancé in Greece, while Vini, newly emigrated, is involved with dangerous criminals. Family is incredibly important to both brothers, but their differences open a rift between them that they must confront.

Albanian, Greek with subtitles, 110 min

Bad Seeds Bad Seeds

A tight, atmospheric thriller starring real-life father and son Charles (Summer Hours) and Émile Berling (A Christmas Tale) as a high school principal and his troubled son, Bad Seeds follows teenager Louis as he and his friend Greg kidnap their English teacher. Much to Louis’ horror, this act of naïve rebellion deteriorates into horrible violence as Greg’s cruel sadism manifests itself. As the crime progresses, Louis’ troubled family history comes to light.

French with subtitles, 95 min

Day of the Crows Day of the Crows

The gruff, ogre-like Pumpkin and his young son live by themselves in the forest, but their comfortable isolation is disturbed when Pumpkin takes a near-fatal fall from a great height. His son, with the help of the benevolent spirits that inhabit the forest, must venture out into civilization for the first time in search of help. Filled with charming, gorgeous animation, Day of the Crows is an utterly delightful family film.

French with subtitles, 94 min

Diaz: Don’t Clean up this Blood Diaz: Don’t Clean up this Blood

The 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, drawing an estimated 200,000 protestors from around the world, became a disaster site when the local police violently stormed the Diaz school, a temporary shelter for many of the activists. An exhilarating yet tragic tale of students, journalists, and police on the front lines, Diaz follows the journeys of several characters involved, shrewdly examining the causes and consequences of the fateful events.

Various Languages with subtitles, 120 min

Edmond Was A Donkey Edmond Was A Donkey

When Edmond's co-workers give him a new set of ears, his life begins to change in this haunting, melancholy animation.

Part of: Shorts 2: Blurring the Lines

English, 14 min

Holy Motors Holy Motors

Several lifetimes pass in the span of a few hours for Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who effortlessly transitions from one realm to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man. This mysterious, hallucinatory epic has ignited passions around the world for its bold, exuberant style and the euphoric virtuosity with which it presents its surreal, impressionistic narrative.

French with subtitles, 115 min

Like Someone in Love Like Someone in Love

Iran’s greatest living filmmaker travels to Tokyo for this understated, enigmatic romantic drama. Unbeknownst to her boyfriend, the enchanting university student Akiko secretly moonlights as an escort. An encounter with a client - a shy, elderly academic - leads to an unconventional, unexpectedly intimate relationship in which nothing is quite as it seems.

Japanese with subtitles, 109 min

Maniac Maniac

Elijah Wood stars as a psychotic loner with a tendency to scalp women and a penchant for mannequins in this bold re-imagining of the 1980 cult classic. Daringly shot entirely from the first-person perspective of its lead anti-hero, this deeply disturbing horror film from director Khalfoun and co-writer Alexandre Aja (High Tension) paints a nightmarish portrait of a deranged mind overwhelmed by violence and obsession.

English, 90 min

Mekong Hotel Mekong Hotel

From Apichaptong “Joe” Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee…), whose gorgeous, thoughtful films are counted among the most acclaimed masterpieces of the new century, Mekong Hotel is a portrait of a hotel near the Mekong River on Thailand’s border with Laos. Blending fantasy and reality, fiction and documentary, the present and the future, this exquisite poem of a film strikingly expresses the bonds of love and family between people, and the looming presence of the river in their lives.

Thai with subtitles, 61 min

Of Snails and Men Of Snails and Men

An absurdist drama tinged with dark humor, Of Snails and Men takes place in the small Romanian town of Muscel, where a French company plans to convert the town’s failed factory into a snail cannery. Knowing that thousands will be left unemployed, the union leader concocts an outlandish scheme to buy back the factory: the workers will, en masse, travel to Bucharest to earn money at a sperm bank.

Romanian, French, and Spanish with subtitles, 93 min

Oh Willy… Oh Willy…

In this spellbinding stop-motion animation, fifty-something Willy returns to the naturist community where he has spent his youth to visit his dying mother. When she dies shortly after he arrives, Willy is confronted with the choices he has made in his life.

Part of: Shorts 2: Blurring the Lines

No Dialogue, 16 min

Our Children Our Children

Inspired by real-life events, Our Children unfolds the riveting story of Murielle, a mother caught in a claustrophobic domestic nightmare. Struggling financially, she and her family are forced to move in with her husbands’s authoritarian mentor Dr. Pinget. The oppressive atmosphere of Pinget’s home overwhelms Murielle, making her increasingly desperate and irrational in this taut psychological drama.

French with subtitles, 111 min

Post Tenebras Lux Post Tenebras Lux

An astonishing visual tour de force from Mexican filmaker Reygadas (whose previous film, 2007’s Silent Light, won the Gold Hugo), this enigmatic, elusive film presents the occurrences around a family of four. Mundane domestic events are punctuated with tableaux of overwhelming beauty, while some sinister force lurks outside. Filled with arresting images from one of world cinema’s most innovative visual masters, Post Tenebras Lux is a truly sui generis work.

Spanish with subtitles, 120 min

Something in the Air Something in the Air

The latest film from celebrated French master Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, Demonlover), Something in the Air is a sweeping, evocative coming-of-age story that beautifully captures the passionate political and social climate of Paris in the 1970s. Young Gilles is swept up in the era’s political fever, but he dreams of painting and making films, much to the dismay of his uncomprehending friends - activists and aspiring revolutionaries - and even his girlfriend.

French with subtitles, 122 min

The Conquerors The Conquerors

A man and woman are carried by stormy seas onto a strange, inhospitable shore. There they embark on an epic adventure, attempting to survive in their new world in a stunning animated collage.

Part of: Shorts 2: Blurring the Lines

No Dialogue, 12 min

Night Across the Street Night Across the Street

The final completed film from Raúl Ruiz (Time Regained), one of world cinema’s most inventive, iconoclastic filmmakers, Night Across the Street follows the ruminations of Don Celso, an elderly office worker, as he relives memories - both real and imagined - from his life. Stories hide within stories and the thin line between imagination and reality steadily erodes, opening up a marvelous new world of personal remembrance and fantastic melodrama.

Spanish and French with subtitles, 110 min

The Repentant The Repentant

Repentant terrorist Rashid uses the declaration of national amnesty as an opportunity to reform and re-enter productive civilian life. Settling back into his hometown, however, proves dangerous as he is menaced by angry neighbors whose families have been torn apart by terrorist attacks. Rashid must navigate these treacherous waters while trying to start a new life in this thriller that confronts the moral and practical complications of reconciliation.

Arabic with subtitles, 87 min

La Demora La Demora

Agustin, plagued by the physical and mental ailments of age, lives with his daughter Maria, a single mother who must now care for her father in addition to her three children. When Maria, overworked and overwhelmed, fails in her attempts to find another home for Agustin, she rashly acts out of desperation and must immediately face the consequences. Directed with flair and exquisitely photographed, The Delay is an intimate, touching family drama.

Spanish with subtitles, 84 min