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2009 — 45th Chicago International Film Festival

Overview Movies A-Z Directors A-Z Countries A-Z

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Made in China Made in China

Director: Judi Krant

A wide-eyed Texas hayseed travels to China to find a manufacturer for the novelty product he hopes will put him right up there with the guy who invented the whoopee cushion. But when he gets sucked into a world of scammers and schemers, this eternal optimist will have to figure out just how far he's willing to pursue the American Dream. Wes Anderson's whimsy meets David Mamet's love of duplicity in this peppy comic debut.

87 minutes

Made in Hungaria Made in Hungaria

Director: Gergely Fonyó

It’s rock ’n’ roll versus communism in this rollicking musical comedy. Teen Miki and his parents return to oppressive 1960s Hungary after four years in the States. Miki’s stash of contraband Jack Daniels and 45s by Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis makes him a hit with local kids starved for American pop culture—but it’ll be harder to win over his ex-flame Vera, tough-guy rocker Röné… and especially the local comrades.

Hungarian with subtitles, 109 minutes

The Maid The Maid

Director: Sebastian Silva

Raquel has spent half her life as the live-in housekeeper and nanny for a family of six. Her ironfisted, borderline-OCD behavior keeps things running smoothly, but lately her snappishness is creating a strange tension in the household. Hoping to relieve her stress, the family brings in a second maid, but Raquel is prepared to defend her territory at all costs. This unpredictable, naturalistic gem was a top winner at Sundance.

Spanish with subtitles, 94 minutes

Mammoth Mammoth

Denmark / Sweden
Director: Lukas Moodysson

Michelle Williams and Gael García Bernal star in this riveting, Babel-esque drama about the fate of the nuclear family in the age of globalization. An affluent, overworked New York couple relies on their Filipino nanny to care for their young daughter, while in the Philippines her own children grow up motherless. Meanwhile in Thailand a young mother turns to the sex trade to support her faraway daughter. In the space of a few days, the ties binding them all will be tested in life-changing ways.

English, Tagalog, Thai with subtitles, 125 minutes

Mary and Max Mary and Max

Director: Adam Elliot

A lonely Australian girl and a middle-aged New Yorker form a lifelong friendship through letters in the alternately comic and tragic Mary and Max. Inventive and endearing stop-motion animation brings the eccentric characters to vividly expressive life. The dark, ironically humorous script is empathetically played by a strong voice cast, with Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the title characters.

92 minutes

The Messenger The Messenger

Director: Oren Moverman

There are war movies about the battles in the field, and there are war movies about the battle at home. Will Montgomery has just returned from Iraq a hero, but he's finding it difficult adjusting to life off the front lines. With three months to serve stateside, he's partnered with hard-bitten captain Tony Stone, whose mission it is to—day after day—shatter the lives of wives, mothers, husbands, and fathers by delivering them the news of their soldier's death. Above all, Stone believes in following the rules, but Montgomery breaks a big one. Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster (Six Feet Under) deliver Oscar®-caliber performances in this solid, intensely emotional debut.

105 minutes

Mississippi Damned Mississippi Damned

Director: Tina Mabry

They weren't the first to dream of escaping their small Mississippi town, but-raised among their family's vicious cycle of abuse, addiction, and lies—three young black children learn the hard way that their dreams will never be enough. Based on a true story, Mississippi Damned is the brutally honest tale of what happens when a family's haven is also its prison.

120 minutes

The Moon Inside You The Moon Inside You

Slovakia / Spain
Director: Diana Fabiánová

Entertaining and surprisingly inviting, The Moon Inside You takes viewers on an international trek exploring the myths, phobias, quackery, and physiology of menstruation. Combining personal experience with the social stigmas associated with basic female functions, this insightful documentary uses humor, spontaneous interviews, and even Claymation to allay the fears of many viewers and offer welcome information and insight to many more.

75 minutes

Mother Mother

South Korea

Hye-ja is a single mom to her naïve and dependent adult son, Do-joon. When a young girl is found dead, Do-joon is accused of murder. With an inefficient lawyer and an apathetic police force as her only allies, Hye-ja is forced to take justice into her own hands. Part thriller, part family drama, Bong Joon-Ho’s (The Host, Memories of Murder) latest is South Korea’s entry for the best foreign-language Oscar®.

Korean with subtitles, 128 minutes

Motherhood Motherhood

Director: Katherine Dieckmann

Uma Thurman shines in this charming, high-energy comedy as a beleaguered Manhattanite just trying to survive another day of madness raising two young kids (and a husband and best friend) in the most frenzied city in the world. Between planning little Clare's birthday party, navigating a neighborhood under siege by tourists and film crews, and dealing with the neuroses of every other frazzled mom on the playground, can Eliza find the time to chase her own aspirations as a writer? Anthony Edwards and Minnie Driver round out this sharp-witted cast.

90 minutes

My Neighbor, My Killer My Neighbor, My Killer

France / USA
Director: Anne Aghion

"When you bear a child, you make its flesh, but not its heart." These are the words of a peasant woman reflecting on why neighbor turned on neighbor in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Ten years in the making, this documentary by award-winning filmmaker Anne Aghion follows the victims—and perpetrators—as they learn to live side by side in the aftermath of the genocide.

Kinyarwanda with subtitles, 80 minutes