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2012 — 48th Chicago Film Festival

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The Sapphires The Sapphires

Director: Wayne Blair

Inspired by a true story, The Sapphires follows four vivacious, young and talented Australian Aboriginal sisters who form a dazzling girl group. After The Sapphires are discovered by Dave (Chris O’Dowd), a good-humored talent scout with a kind heart and very little rhythm, but a great knowledge of soul music, the sisters get their first true gig and their first taste of stardom before Dave brings them to Vietnam to sing for the American troops.

English, 103 min

The Scapegoat The Scapegoat

Director: Charles Sturridge

Set in 1952 as England prepares for a coronation, The Scapegoat tells the story of two very different men with the exact same face. Almost identical replicas of each other, they meet by chance in a station bar. Each is at a crossroads in his life: one setting out on a walking tour after losing his job as a teacher; the other avoiding home after a disastrous business venture.

English, 108 min

Sea Shadow Sea Shadow

Director: Nawaf Al-Janahi

When he develops a crush on the lovely young Kaltham, 16-year-old Mansoor finds himself unequipped for wooing her - an especially tricky problem in a society that regulates interaction between boys and girls. His best friend concocts the seemingly perfect solution of declaring his love with a gift, but that brings its own complications and deceits. Sea Shadow’s touching coming-of-age story brings out a tender, personal side of its Dubai setting.

Arabic with subtitles, 98 min

A Secret World A Secret World

Director: Gabriel Mariño

A poetic, tender road movie, A Secret World follows tormented teenager Maria as she makes her way through Mexico seeking her place in life. The film focuses on the pleasant beauty of the landscape and the eccentric, endearing personality of Maria as she comes into her own. Gorgeously filmed, this lyrical coming-of-age story doubles as a wistful hymn to a young woman’s self-discovery.

Spanish with subtitles, 87 min

The Sessions The Sessions

Director: Ben Lewin

Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, The Sessions tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined - at age 38 - to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality. Starring Helen Hunt and John Hawkes.

English, 95 min

Shadow Dancer Shadow Dancer

Ireland / UK
Director: James Marsh

A gritty political thriller, Shadow Dancer follows IRA agent Collette McVeigh as she’s caught by the police and forced to inform on her family. Collette’s handler, Mac (Clive Owen), is surprised and frustrated to find himself shut out of certain aspects of his own operation, while Collette is sure that her family and colleagues suspect her. An increasingly complex network of secrets and betrayals is uncovered in this stark, beautifully acted drama.

English, 100 min

Shameless Shameless

Director: Filip Marczewski

In an incendiary story of love, desire, and betrayal between siblings, the rebellious young Tadek returns to sister Anka’s home in search of solace and affection. Bound together by a painful shared family history, brother and sister must find a way to break free in order to survive. This formidable debut fearlessly yet tenderly explores one of society’s last taboos.

Polish with subtitles, 80 min

Sharqiya Sharqiya

Director: Ami Livne

Kamel, a shy, good-natured security guard, is torn between two worlds: the Israeli society that treats him and his fellow Bedouins with suspicion and his own family, who are struggling to maintain their ever-threatened way of life. When the shacks where he and his family live on their ancestral lands are threatened with demolition, Kamel goes to extreme lengths to save his family home, in this starkly beautiful portrait of life on the margins.

Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles, 82 min

Shorts 1: City & State Shorts 1: City & State

Director: _ Various

Our exciting annual showcase of the best new shorts by talented local filmmakers includes narrative, documentary, and animated works. Three Chicago window cleaners wax lyrical as they work on a high rise in PARADISE. A corpse wakes up to say a last goodbye to his wife in CADAVER, featuring the voice talents of Christopher Lloyd and Kathy Bates. An epic romance is reimagined in a queer light in THE QUEEN OF MY DREAMS. Brad spends his final night in the suburbs alongside his older brother in WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM. A human trafficker becomes stranded In the lush Serbian countryside in THE RUNNER. Cole is home for the holidays… and now they’re over in AFTER CHRISTMAS.

80 min

Shorts 2: Animation - Blurring the Lines Shorts 2: Animation - Blurring the Lines

Director: _ Various

A gorgeous array of animation styles and techniques are put to work illustrating these strikingly original tales from around the world. A birthmark forms a bond between father and son in an old public bathhouse in 38 - 39 Cº (USA/South Korea). Life is a constant struggle for a quirky married couple in BITE OF THE TAIL (USA). A man and woman are carried to strange, inhospitable shores in THE CONQUERORS (Canada/France). Charles Manson communicates with the outside world for the first time in 20 years in OLD MAN (USA). When Edmond’s co-workers give him a new set of ears, his life begins to change in EDMOND WAS A DONKEY (Canada/France). Willy is forced to return to his naturist roots in OH WILLY… (Belgium/France). BODY MEMORY (Estonia) explores how far back in our ancestry it is possible to go. Lines blur between patron and bartender in the visually striking THE PUB (UK). A prank takes an unexpected turn in NEXT DOOR LETTERS (Sweden).

98 min

Shorts 3: Midnight Mayhem Shorts 3: Midnight Mayhem

A late night helping of thrillers and chillers, from the
supernatural to the bloody to the downright bizarre. IN HANFORD (USA) is an animated depiction of a little-known environmental catastrophe. A young girl who lives in a remote wrecking yard takes on the local bullies using special powers in YARDBIRD (Australia). A serial killer is prowling in a small town in MURDERER ALIAS X (Switzerland). THE CHAIR (USA) is the story of one boy’s reaction to a mysterious outbreak of poisonous mold in his small rural town. PAUL (Israel) is still in the aftermath of a tough break-up when a mindless burglary forces him to push through the underworld of Tel Aviv. A girl’s talent for archery hides violent instincts in MY BOW BREATHING (Italy). When Stefan senses an intruder in his home, panic quickly turns to grim determination in COME TO HARM (Iceland).

96 min

Shorts 4: Not OK, Cupid! Shorts 4: Not OK, Cupid!

Director: _ Various

A stimulating program that encompasses sweet, saucy, sad, and subversive elements of our romantic and sexual relationships. Caution advised for those on first dates! A man with a cardboard box pulls into a motel and rushes into ROOM 69 (Switzerland). A girl visits her ex-boyfriend in search of their lost intimacy in CHILL (Croatia). Delightful comedy FRIEND REQUEST PENDING (UK), featuring Judi Dench, observes the mature generation dating in our modern social networking world. MARLA (Australia) may just be the strangest love story you’ve ever seen. Milos worships his family tradition of hunting and takes matters into his own hands when he is told he is too young to tag along in DEAR HUNTERS (Czech Republic). On the eve of departing overseas, Ellen gives her boyfriend a questionable gift in ELLEN IS LEAVING (New Zealand).

66 min

Shorts 5: Spotlight Middle East - Shadows and Light Shorts 5: Spotlight Middle East - Shadows and Light

Director: _ Various

A gorgeous and compelling selection of narrative, documentary and experimental shorts from across the Middle East. TSTL/ KING LOST HIS TOOTH (Lebanon) is an experimental diptych that plays with haphazard assemblage of words and phrases cut from a given paragraph. In a café in Cairo, a relationship goes through its first big test in CAFÉ REGULAR, CAIRO (Egypt). Two young filmmakers struggle to raise the budget for their next film in WAITING FOR P.O. BOX (Syria). A soldiers’ tale begins when a female garment appears in the barracks in UNDER THE COLORS (Iran). A couple are on a mission to send the perfect photograph to their son in THIS IS LONDON (Bahrain/UAE). A father struggles to decide whether to stay in his humble home in the deserts of Petra or move to the city in FACES (Jordan). After a psychotic breakdown, Shay must readjust to life with his family in RETURN (Israel). Set in 1988, the conflict between Iraq and Iran is reaching its final stage in LAND OF THE HEROES (Belgium/Iraq).

126 min

Shorts 6: Truth Be Told Shorts 6: Truth Be Told

Director: _ Various

These absorbing documentary character studies lovingly explore a handful of unique characters and their relationships with the objects and the places that define them. Stunningly artistic photos are captured on a tiny camera worn by Mr. Lee, a roving feline in CATCAM (USA). Burly men take pride in their work creating ballet shoes in THE PERFECT FIT (UK). WRITTEN IN INK (Poland) is the compelling story of a man trying to get back in touch with his sister after 14 years. An offbeat, touching portrait of Bruce Metz reveals how he became MR. CHRISTMAS (USA). DINOSAUR EGGS IN THE LIVING ROOM (Brazil) creates an idiosyncratic portrait of an eccentric widow who looks after an impressive collection of fossils and documents. THE LAST ICE MERCHANT (Ecuador) has made a living harvesting glacial ice from the tallest mountain in Ecuador for fifty years, but now change has come to his community.

78 min

Shorts 7: Chaos Theory Shorts 7: Chaos Theory

Director: _ Various

In life, things aren’t always what they seem, which can be good, bad, or disastrous in this fascinating selection of shorts in which the outcome is never quite what we expected. ASTRID (Sweden) follows an 11-year old rebelling against her mother and getting an unexpected problem to solve. With 43,000 FEET (New Zealand) to fall, John calculates he has exactly 3 minutes and 48 seconds before he hits the ground. In a factory farm, a chicken has a vision in TASTES LIKE CHICKEN? (Brazil). Set in 1980’s Athens, a young girl loses touch with her workaholic communist father in DAD, LENIN AND FREDDY (Greece). In the fading echoes of a relationship, character is revealed in ANOTHER BULLET DODGED (USA). Confused about the story he is telling, a French narrator jumps from story to story in VOICE OVER (Spain). Michael Fassbender stars as a professional safe cracker who encounters a hitch in PITCH BLACK HEIST (UK).

95 min

Shun Li and the Poet Shun Li and the Poet

Director: Andrea Segre

When Shun Li is moved from Rome to Venice to pay off her “debt” working in a bar, she does whatever it takes to bring her young son over from China. Feeling isolated, Shun Li forms an unlikely friendship with café regular Bepi, an older Slavic fisherman. The two souls find solace in each other in spite of their cultural differences in this poignant celebration of the beauty of human connection.

Italian with subtitles, 100 min

Silver Linings Playbook Silver Linings Playbook

Director: David O. Russell

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything -- his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own who offers to help, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.

English, 117 min

Simon Killer Simon Killer

Director: Antonio Campos

Desperately needing a change after a painful break-up, Simon relocates to Paris to find solace and affection in the “city of love” in this unsettling chronicle of a young man’s descent into madness. As he becomes involved with both a young prostitute and a sweet, perky college student, Simon’s fundamental mental instability becomes increasingly apparent, and it appears he may have an ominous potential for violence.

English, 105 min

Sister Sister

Director: Ursula Meier

Twelve-year-old Simon lives with his jobless, aimless sister in the industrial valley below a luxury ski resort. A small-time thief who preys on the rich tourists up above, Simon longs to escape from the drab poverty of his home life. As his schemes grow more grandiose, they also become more complex and risky, complicating his already fraught relationship with his sister in this bleak but tender coming-of-age story.

French with subtitles, 97 min

Sleep Tight Sleep Tight

Director: Jaume Balagueró

The latest chiller from acclaimed horror maestro Balagueró, co-director of the worldwide sensation [REC], Sleep Tight follows the drab, uneventful life of the chronically overlooked and underappreciated doorman César. On the surface, César seems pleasant - and harmless - enough, but little by little the film reveals more sinister aspects of his personality. The tension builds slowly and surely until reaching unbearable heights in this beautifully crafted thriller with a black, absurdist sense of humor.

Spanish with subtitles, 96 min

Something in the Air Something in the Air

Director: Olivier Assayas

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

Stand Up Guys Stand Up Guys


Stand Up Guys stars Academy Award® winners Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin in a tough but touching action comedy as retired gangsters who reunite for one epic last night. Val (Pacino) is released from prison after serving twenty-eight years for refusing to give up one of his close criminal associates. His best friend Doc (Walken) is there to pick him up, and the two soon reteam with another old pal, Hirsch (Arkin). Their bond is as strong as ever, and the three reflect on freedom lost and gained, loyalties ebbed and flowed, and days of glory gone by. And despite their age, their capacity for mayhem is still very much alive and well; bullets fly as they make a hilariously valiant effort to compensate for the decades of crime, drugs and sex they’ve missed. But one of the friends is keeping a dangerous secret; he’s been put in an impossible quandary by a former mob boss, and his time to find an acceptable alternative is running out. As the sun rises on the guys’ legendary reunion, their position becomes more and more desperate and they finally confront their past once and for all.


English, 94 min

Starlet Starlet

Director: Sean Baker

21-year-old “actress” Jane spends her time getting high with her dysfunctional roommates and taking care of her Chihuahua, Starlet. Sadie, an 85-year-old widow, passes her days alone tending to her flower garden. An unlikely friendship forms between the two after Jane makes an intriguing discovery at Sadie’s yard sale. Jane attempts to befriend the caustic older woman in an effort to satisfy her curiosity, and secrets emerge as their relationship grows.

English, 103 min

StringCaesar StringCaesar

Director: Paul Schoolman

With a cast featuring both renowned actors (including legendary thespian Derek Jacobi) and hundreds of prisoners, StringCaesar tells the story of the early, under-documented life of emperor Julius Caesar. Set in three working prisons across the world (in South Africa, Wales and Canada), this remarkable ensemble collaborates to bring to life the thrilling, tumultuous story of one of the most powerful, enduring personalities in Western history.

English, 88 min

Student Student


Following up his adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Darezhan Omirbaev returns to Russian literature, this time adapting Crime and Punishment to modern-day Kazhakstan. Goaded on by a lecture on modern capitalism, a philosophy student murders a local shopkeeper and must ponder the moral and philosophical implications of his actions. This much-adapted story is brought to new light in Post-Communist Kazhakstan, where crime and corruption have lingered following the transition to capitalism.

Student is co-presented by the Global Film Initiative and is part of the Global Lens 2013 film series. For more information, visit

Kazakh and Russian with subtitles, 90 min

Surprise Film Surprise Film

Director: ???? ????

Every year, we love to surprise our audience with a top-secret film that will keep them talking for days. Will it be a hotly anticipated Hollywood blockbuster? Maybe the first look at a Best Picture contender? How about a big-budget 3-D musical about the zombie apocalypse? You won’t know what you’ll see until the lights go down. Here’s the best part: it’s free! The only catch is that you have to wear our festival t-shirt or sweatshirt to get in.

90-120 min