What are the limits of loyalty, family, and justice? Driven by jealousy and power, General Tu-Angu frames an entire clan for the murder of their king and wipes out all 300 members. All but one - a baby boy and dynastic heir, secretly rescued by the family doctor. But when Tu-Angu orders the Herod-like murder of every male infant, the doctor makes an inconceivable sacrifice in Kaige Chen’s (Farewell My Concubine) breathtaking adaptation of a classical Chinese opera.
Mandarin with subtitles, 132 min
Calling all Hulkamaniacs! When you’re done training, taking your vitamins, and saying your prayers, then you can meet the purest fan of all, Chris Sader, in a story that travels from childhood obsession to an unexpected and touching friendship. In this inspirational tale, Chris and Hulk Hogan relate how they met and developed a bond through mutual struggles and personal loss that each would have faced alone if not for the unlikely friendship that develops between them.
Iraq / USA
When violent images of Iraq are all the Western world is accustomed to, it’s easy to forget that life continues in the war-torn nation. At the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani, life does just that, as is extraordinarily personified by the school ’s women’s basketball team. In a sports movie for the ages, Salaam Dunk follows the team’s season, chronicling their triumphs and tragedies both on and off the court.
English, Arabic, Kurdish with subtitles, 83 min
In this contemporary adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s brilliant, eponymous 17th century play, the enigmatic Alcandre is now a hotel concierge who uses the myriad in-house high-tech security cameras to show worried father Pridamant the whereabouts and travails of his son, Clindor. As Pridamant witnesses the conflicting romances involving his estranged son, Corneille’s modernist meta-narrative is transposed to contemporary Paris, underscoring the ambiguous nature of love, wealth and desire in an age of consumerism.
French with subtitles, 77 min
A wedding ceremony. The Men’s Room. Two men squeeze to fit into one of the small booths. Walter, 62 and Markus, 28. Between them: An Undershirt. A touching, understated look at a father/son relationship and the foibles of human nature.
German, with subtitles, 6 min
A stunning panorama of new animated shorts from around the world.An accident changes Dinki's life in the gorgeous BIRDBOY (Spain). A striking blend of animation styles are used in FLOWERS FOR JUPITER (USA). A seductive alternative cityscape is presented in the stylish HELLVILLE (France). A poodle puppy terrorizes the henpecked Carlos in EL MACHO (UK). One man's obsession with the passing of time is explored in black and white stop-motion in THE EAGLEMAN STAG (UK). Animator Bill Plympton invited multiple animators to remake his Oscar® award-winning short Guard Dog, and GUARD DOG GLOBAL JAM (USA) is the eye-popping result! THE GALLERY (Poland) is a satirical parable on modern consumer habits. A young boy learns some life lessons in THE RENTER (USA). TRAUMDEUTUNG (UK) explores our fascination with dreams. HEAVY HEADS (Denmark) is a minimalist black comedy. BRIDE CAN (Iran) uses cutouts in a witty commentary on the role of women in Iranian society. Oscar has to leave something behind in the melancholy, beautifully hand drawn BELLY (UK).
Zombies, ghosts, murderers and more go on the rampage in this miniature showcase of terror.Thirty years after a zombie epidemic the undead are used for cheap labor in the stylish THE UNLIVING (Sweden). A mysterious vagrant is hiding in an empty house in the menacing GHOST (South Korea). There's a new addition to the family in the form of a benign severed head in the darkly comedic CROPPED (Australia). A little boy and a yeti-like monster go on a disturbing adventure in DREAM OF 1ST OF APRIL 1999 (France). A gruesome scene unfolds in a peaceful home by the sea in BEATING HEARTS (USA). A young mother's mental state deteriorates rapidly in the nightmarish FOAL (Austria) and an army of mutant flies is unleashed in an orgy of bloodlust in FRIEND OF FLIES (Sweden).
A series of provocative shorts exploring sex and relationships in unique and hilarious ways.An elderly couple's dinner repartee takes an unexpected and hilarious turn in PASS THE SALT, PLEASE (USA). The pleasures and perils of going back for more are explored in EX-SEX (USA). An old man has a dirty secret in GRANDPA'S WET DREAM (USA/JAPAN). Wallace and Gromit meets Shortbus when a Claymation couple decides to spice up their sex life in VENUS (Denmark). A plucky actress prepares for a challenging new role in METHOD (USA). Bert's barely clad neighbor comes to borrow some sugar and things go horribly wrong in SUGAR (The Netherlands).
Unsettling, surprising and off-kilter encounters abound in these eight compelling and carefully crafted films.
A 17-year-old boy experiences some surprises during his first day on the job in MEATHEAD (New Zealand). A father and son share an awkward moment at a wedding in THE SHIRT (Germany). A piece of chewing gum, a dog collar, a stain on the wall in the shape of Australia, and a crooked traffic light all play a part in THE RUNAWAY (Spain). An old woman convinces herself that she will die as soon as she has sold her last minute of cell phone time in MINUTO 200 (Colombia). Perceptions of reality are explored on a one-take journey in 720 DEGREES (Bangladesh). A young girl’s sexual awakening swelters in the heat of a long summer’s day in NARKIS (Israel). Two brothers who run an unusual carwash business have some problems on their hands in KRASS (Iceland). An unseen tension lurks in a seemingly everyday situation in THE STRANGE ONES (USA).
A selection of international shorts which encompass the sublime, the ridiculous, and everything in-between.
Three eager bank robbers go over the big plan before robbing a bank in the hilarious THE HEIST (UK). In OSTRICH’S FLIGHT (Brazil) a struggling businessman tries a novel money making approach. An impromptu Cyndi Lauper sing-a-long is about more than just a song in TIME AFTER TIME (USA). Rocky is a little boy with a lot of love to give in THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF ROCKY (Belgium). The turmoil at the end of a relationship is explored with sensitivity and simplicity in THE SHOWER (Chile). A surprising encounter takes place at an indoor playground in the Neil LaBute penned AFTER-SCHOOL SPECIAL (USA). Randomness, existence and the order, or disorder, of things, is explored in the beautiful hybrid animation JUST THAT SORT OF A DAY (India).
Original documentary shorts that have won international acclaim for their fresh approaches and sensitive storytelling.
FLYING ANNE (The Netherlands) is a sensitive portrayal of a beautiful young girl suffering from Tourette Syndrome. GRANDMOTHERS (UK) uses mixed media animation to render the tragic story of one woman's experience of the Argentine revolution. In CARETAKER FOR THE LORD (UK), we are privy to the everyday goings on and discontent amongst an aging and steadily declining church community in Scotland. THE HIGH LEVEL BRIDGE (Canada) is a fitting and humorous homage to the people and events surrounding an oddly significant landmark. GOODBYE MANDIMA (Switzerland) is a moving account of childhood memories of growing up in Zaire. In BITTER LEMON (Bangladesh), we experience the point of view of a traffic policeman in the chaotic streets of Dhaka.
Maria Jose San Martin
A couple separates. Elisa has taken a job outside the country and Manuela, who lived with her five years, has decided not to accompany her. Unable to say goodbye, they spend the last morning together as refugees under the shower water. A sensitive, deceptively simple film that lingers long after viewing, The Shower was the winner of Best Short Film at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
Spanish, with subtitles, 10 min
Violeta, a dentist in Rio de Janeiro, is happily married and still engages in passionate morning lovemaking with her husband. Then he leaves on business and calls to tell her he never plans to return. Confused, she begins to wander the streets, trying to figure out what happened and why. Rio is as much a protagonist as Violeta, its energetic and melancholic landscapes a reflection of her changing moods in this ode to resilience in the face of heartbreaking loss from Gold Hugo winner Karim Aïnouz (Madame Sãta).
Portugese with subtitles, 82 min
Equal parts revenge tale and family drama, Sleep examines the lengths people will go to exact retribution. Raped 17 years ago as a teenager, Kotono now makes a living as a masseuse, leading a nomadic life with her daughter Natsume (born out of the rape) and her aging father. Living out of the back of a van, the clan share a tender bond, each looking out for the needs of the others, belying the perversity of their lifestyle and the true motivation for their life on the road.
Japanese with subtitles, 96 min
Forget everything you thought you knew about Sleeping Beauty. In Julia Leigh’s unsettling take on the classic tale, the beauty is Lucy (Emily Browning), a young woman who begins working at a niche job in the sex industry in order to pay for her education. Drugged and placed in a “sleeping beauty chamber”, Lucy becomes the play thing of paying customers, where almost anything is permissible. With so much beyond her control, will Lucy ever wake up to the world around her?
Winner of the Best Director prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Hagar Ben-Asher’s alternative, almost anti-cautionary tale presents Tamar, a beautiful, young single mother with a seemingly insatiable sexual appetite. While running a chicken farm with her two daughters, she finds servicing the village’s lackluster men gets her through the inconveniences of everyday life. That is until a hunky veterinarian comes to town.
Hebrew with subtitles, 88 min
From the man who created the celebrated “O-Ren Ishii” animated sequence in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 comes this stylish and outrageous but brutal film that makes Tarantino’s work look like family fare. In serious debt to local gangsters, Kinuta is coerced into taking a job as a smuggler of dead bodies for the Japanese underworld, only to find himself caught in the middle of a bloody gang war. Based on the popular eponymous manga, Smuggler has all the makings of a midnight classic.
Japanese with subtitles, 115 min
Based on true events, this skillfully crafted psychological thriller centers on 16-year-old Jamie, who lives in a squalid, crime-ridden slum on the outskirts of Adelaide. When John Bunting, a charismatic older man, enters his life, he offers friendship and escape from his deadbeat existence. But as Bunting’s behavior becomes increasingly sinister, Jamie finds himself caught up in horrors he could never have imagined as he realizes his new father-figure is actually a cold-blooded serial killer.
In a small fishing village in Brazil, Clarice experiences her entire life, beginning at birth, in the space of a day. The villagers remain oblivious to Clarice’s unique situation, living life just like us, one day at a time. In an attempt to understand her reality, Clarice tries to change her destiny as well as the destiny of those around her in this haunting and thought-provoking film.
Portugese with subtitles, 128 min
A man and a boy, traveling to an unknown destination, find respite in a motel swimming pool. On the surface all seems normal, but nothing is what it seems to be. Haunting and evocative, The Strange Ones hints at a complicated, dangerous and secret world lurking beneath the surface.
Roque goes from young Lothario to activist and general rabble-rouser in this cleverly plotted parable revealing the underbelly of Argentinian politics. Set at the University of Buenos Aires, the heady mix of sex, intellectualism and shady ploys that would make Richard Nixon smile, soon become all too real and Roque finds that he’s in way over his head. With nuanced performances and dynamic pacing, Santiago Mitre’s debut feature has earned comparisons to Truffaut, Godard and Alexander Payne.
Spanish with subtitles, 110 min
Jeroen Annokkeé and Lisa Barnstone
When Bert's sexy neighbor pops in to borrow some sugar, a regular situation with a potentially sexual outcome turns instead into his worst nightmare. Bert will do anything - including getting extremely intimate with his neighbor's pink panties. Hilarious, over the top and very saucy.
Dutch, with subtitles, 8 min
Every year, we love to surprise our audience with a top-secret film that will keep them talking for days. What will that film be this year? Will it be the first Chicago showing of a hotly anticipated Hollywood blockbuster? Maybe the first look at a foreign film making waves around the world? How about a potential Oscar® winner for Best Picture? You won’t know what you’ll see until the lights go down. Are you excited yet? Well here’s the best part: It’s FREE! The only catch is that you’ve gotta wear our Festival t-shirt or sweatshirt to get in. So you get to look awesome and see a great film. What more could you ask for?
New film movements always undergo the torture of critical labeling and mislabeling but whatever you want to call it, DIY, Mumblecore, Slackavettes, Chicago’s Joe Swanberg is at its forefront. With such notable independent films of recent years as Kissing On the Mouth, LOL and Hannah Takes the Stairs, Swanberg, a former staff member of the Chicago International Film Festival, has made a career of portraying life and relationships in a way that audiences can relate to. Join us for an open discussion with Joe Swanberg about the ins and outs of indie film production in Chicago, followed by a Q&A.