CHICAGO, IL (September 20, 2012) - The 48th Chicago International Film Festival announced today the full line up of films selected to screen in the International Feature, New Directors, DOCUFEST, After Dark and Short Film Competitions.
In addition to the five competition categories, the Festival presents films in seven out-of-competition sections, including Special Presentations, World Cinema, Black Perspectives, Cinema of the Americas, City & State, Documentaries, OUTrageous, REELWOMEN, and Spotlight Middle East. The 48th Chicago International Film Festival runs October 11- 25. The complete list of films is available at www.chicagofilmfestival.com
“The films in our various competitions demonstrate an acute concern with how we inhabit our world today��"how technology inflects the ways in which we live and love, the meaning and bearing of revolutions of all kinds, the consequences of natural and manmade disaster, and how the long echo of the past reverberates in the present,” said Mimi Plauché, Programming Director of the Chicago International Film Festival. “Whether by daring debuting filmmakers or celebrated auteurs, as a collection the program presents a brilliant, kaleidoscopic snapshot of the state of world cinema today.”
For the 48th Chicago International Film Festival, 120 feature-length films were selected, representing 53 countries. These films were selected from a total of 1,300 film submissions. 50 short films were accepted out of 2,100 submissions.
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE COMPETITION
Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these films compete for the Festival’s top honor, the Gold Hugo��"as well as trophies for best actors, director, and writer��"in North America’s longest-running competitive film festival.
After Lucia Mexico/France (Director: Michel Franco) ��" 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. North American Premiere
Bad Seeds Luxembourg/Belgium (Director: Safy Nebbou) ��" 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. U.S. Premiere
Beyond the Hills Romania (Director: Cristian Mungiu) ��" Mungiu, who took Cannes’ top prize in 2007 with 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, returns to feature filmmaking with another gripping existential drama. Inspired by the real-life horror of a modern-day exorcism gone-wrong, Mungiu follows two friends, Voichita and Alina, whose lives have taken them down drastically different paths. When the pair reconnects, Voichita’s stern, oppressive monastery proves to be a harsh, claustrophobic and ultimately tragic environment for Alina. Chicago Premiere
Boys Are Us Switzerland (Director: Peter Luisi) ��" A playfully inventive jigsaw puzzle of a movie, Boys Are Us follows heartbroken teenager Mia, whose older sister Laura persuades her to take revenge on the male sex. Their plan involves Mia seducing a boy and making him fall in love with her before cruelly discarding him, although the predatory Laura can’t help but complicate matters by toying with the boys herself. Can Mia follow through on their plan? Does she want to? World Premiere
Gimme the Loot USA (Director: Adam Leon) ��" Malcolm and Sofia, two determined teens from the Bronx, are skilled and ambitious graffiti-writers. When a rival gang destroys their latest masterpiece, the pair hatches a plan to get revenge by tagging an iconic NYC landmark. Their spectacular scheme, however, comes with a $500 price tag. The capers ��" heists, petty thefts, swindles ��" they devise to raise money bring more setbacks than they do dollars, but their enthusiasm and energy never wane in this prize-winning debut from director Adam Leon. Chicago Premiere
Holy Motors France/Germany (Director: Leos Carax) ��" 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. Chicago Premiere
The Land of Hope Japan (Director: Sion Sono) ��" In the fictional Nagashima prefecture, a cataclysmic earthquake and the subsequent explosion of a nuclear power plant devastates the region. With the Fukushima disaster and the resulting permanent evacuations at the front of their minds, Yoichi, his wife Izumi, and his parents must make a difficult choice. Staying means that their lives may be in danger, but leaving means they could lose ��" possibly forever ��" the home that has been in their family for generations. U.S. Premiere
The Last Sentence Sweden (Director: Jan Troell) ��" Based on a true story, The Last Sentence follows celebrated Swedish journalist Torgny Segerstedt, who conducted his own campaign against the Nazis while navigating a fraught personal life. Officially neutral, Sweden’s leaders did their best to silence Segerstedt, fearing German reprisal, especially as the journalist began inciting the ire of top Nazi officials. Illustrious director Jan Troell (The Emigrants) brings a Swedish hero to life in this gripping, lyrical epic. U.S. Premiere
Like Someone in Love France/Japan (Director: Abbas Kiarostami) ��" 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. Chicago Premiere
Marie Krøyer Denmark (Director: Bille August) ��" Married to one of Denmark’s most celebrated 19th century painters, Marie Krøyer’s life is both privileged and fraught. With artistic aspirations of her own, Marie struggles to discover her identity while managing her husband’s increasingly erratic behavior and begins to look outside of her marriage for affirmation and autonomy. But at what cost? This beautifully crafted period drama presents a compelling portrait of a woman ahead of her time. North American Premiere
Modest Reception Iran (Director: Mani Haghighi) ��" Tasked with giving away huge sums of money by whatever means possible, Kaveh and Layla drive through the remote, war-torn mountains of Iran with a trunkful of cash. What begins as a seemingly harmless game soon reveals itself to be a twisted bout of charity as the power, humiliation, and shame inherent in their act plays out between the privileged couple and the impoverished villagers. U.S. Premiere
Paradise: Love Austria/Germany (Director: Ulrich Seidl) ��" Teresa, a middle-aged mother, vacations alone on the picturesque beaches of Kenya, one of many “Sugar Mamas” looking for love, sex, and companionship among the local gigolos, known as “Beach Boys.” Teresa goes from one disappointing relationship to the next until she is forced to confront the limitations of her attempts to purchase love. The first film of a projected trilogy, Paradise: Love is a controversial, provocative work from acclaimed filmmaker Ulrich Seidl (Dog Days). U.S. Premiere
The Repentant Algeria/France (Director: Merzak Allouache) ��" 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. U.S. Premiere
Rhino Season Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey (Director: Bahman Ghobadi) ��" Based on a true story, Rhino Season follows Sahel, a poet who was unjustly incarcerated during Iran’s Islamic Revolution (and a friend of director Ghobadi). After being released into a world that is, three decades later, greatly changed, Sahel searches for the wife and children he left behind. Rhino Season is, at base, a tragic romance, strikingly told with an impressionistic, dreamlike blending of past and present. U.S. Premiere
The Sapphires Australia (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. U.S. Premiere
The Scapegoat UK (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. North American Premiere
Something in the Air France (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. Chicago Premiere
Tey Senegal (Director: Alain Gomis) ��" What would you do if you knew today was your last day on earth? A joyous, impressionistic celebration of life and death, Tey follows Satché (played by musician Saül Williams) from the moment he wakes, with full knowledge of his imminent passing. Wandering through the streets of his hometown, Satché reminisces about his friends and family, reflecting on the choices he has made and their consequences. North American Premiere
The Weekend Germany (Director: Nina Grosse) ��" Based on a novel by Bernard Schlink (The Reader), The Weekend follows Jens as he leaves prison 18 years after being arrested as an RAF terrorist in Germany. Back with his family, friends, and ex-comrades, including his former lover Inga, Jens’ unexpected arrival disrupts their lives, forcing them to reexamine the violent idealism of their youth, especially as he insists on learning who had betrayed him to the police years before in this intense, gripping drama. U.S. Premiere
The World Is Funny Israel (Director: Shemi Zarhin) ��" The World Is Funny follows the wanderings of a loose network of characters. Told with meticulous precision, the connections between the characters and the profound implications of their stories grow in richness and complexity as the film progresses. A sharp, ironic sense of humor enriches a melancholy yet inspiring film that has been a gigantic hit in Israel, earning a record-setting 15 Ophir nominations (the Israeli Academy Awards®). World Premiere
NEW DIRECTORS COMPETITION
This selection of first and second feature films, a mix of World, North American and U.S. premieres, celebrates the spirit of discovery and innovation upon which the Festival was founded.
Agon Albania/Greece (Director: Robert Budina) ��" A powerful drama about cultural conflict and the strength of familial bonds, Agon explores the relationship between Albanian brothers who must deal with prejudice 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. World Premiere
A Caretaker’s Tale Denmark (Director: Katrine Wiedemann) ��" Harsh and bitter, apartment caretaker Per despises everyone and everything around him until he comes across a mysterious naked girl in an empty apartment. She doesn’t know how to talk, walk, or even eat ��" she just smiles broadly. Per soon discovers that she has miraculous sexual powers. Perhaps just as startling, he finds himself caring deeply for this beautiful cypher in a perverse, unexpected fairy tale about love, possession, and generosity. North American Premiere
The Cleaner Peru (Director: Adrián Saba) ��" In the midst of a mysterious epidemic that has decimated Lima’s population and shows no signs of abating, Eusebio ��" a forensic cleaner whose job is to remove corpses and sterilize the apartments of the dead ��" discovers an eight-year-old boy hiding in an uninhabited house. A grizzled loner who’s never been able to relate to people, Eusebio suddenly finds that he must care for the boy as civilization crumbles around them in this quietly compelling dystopian drama. North American Premiere
Clip Serbia (Director: Maja Miloš) ��" A brutally honest, unflinching portrait of the intensely sexualized cell-phone generation, Clip follows the beautiful teenage Jasna as she and her friends attempt to use their bodies to gain attention and affection from their mostly indifferent, violent male counterparts. Featuring remarkably open and assured performances from its young cast, director Maja Miloš’ feature debut announces the arrival of a major cinematic talent. U.S. Premiere
The Exam Hungary (Director: Peter Bergendy) ��" In late 1950’s Hungary, Andras supervises a network of civilians spying on their neighbors and coworkers. But little does he know that the government is monitoring him as well. His superiors have chosen Christmas Eve to implement “the exam”, an obscure procedure designed to challenge an agent’s loyalty without his or her knowledge. Nothing can be taken for granted in this world of intense secrecy and perpetual surveillance. U.S. Premiere
Flowerbuds Czech Republic (Director: Zdenek Jirasky) ��" Garnering four top Czech Lions (the Czech Oscars®) Flowerbuds presents an incisive snapshot of family life in a small Czech town. Jarda works as a train signal operator but also nurses a petty gambling addiction. His wife, Kamila dreams of her lost youth while their teenage children are without work, money or illusions about life. Over the course of a long winter, a series of small tragedies unfold and collide, bringing the family to the brink. North American Premiere
The Land of Eb Marshall Islands (Director: Andrew Williamson) ��" In the stark volcanic landscape of a remote Hawaiian community, Marshallese patriarch Jacob struggles to provide for his large family. When diagnosed with cancer, he eschews treatment in favor of earning as much as possible for his children and grandchildren. As his illness worsens, Jacob turns a small video camera on himself and begins to tell his own story and the tragic history of the Marshallese people in this hauntingly beautiful affirmation of family. Chicago Premiere
Meeting Leila Iran (Director: Adel Yaraghi) ��" Featuring a brilliant performance from A Separation star Leila Hatami, Meeting Leila follows a young woman who demands that her chain-smoking fiancé quits smoking before their marriage. This poses a problem for this advertising agency idea man for whom smoking is an integral part of his creative process in this gently comic, insightful look at the compromises and negotiations required in any relationship. World Premiere
Out in the Dark Israel (Director: Michael Mayer) ��" Nimer, a Palestinian student, dreams of a better life abroad. One fateful night he meets Roy, an Israeli lawyer. As their relationship deepens into love, Nimer is confronted with the harsh realities of a Palestinian society that refuses to accept him for his sexual identity, and an Israeli society that rejects him for his nationality. Nimer soon must choose between love and the life he thought he wanted. U.S. Premiere
La Playa DC Colombia (Director: Juan Andres Arango) ��" Tomás, an Afro-Colombian teenager driven from his home by war, settles with his brothers in the section of Bogota known (ironically) as “La Playa.” Working as a barber’s apprentice, Tomás is just beginning to find a place for himself when his younger brother Jairo disappears. Tomás must make a risk-filled journey in search of Jairo, a rite of passage that forces him to find, and earn, his own identity in this impressive, wonderfully energetic debut film. North American Premiere
Shameless Poland (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. U.S. Premiere
Westerland Germany (Director: Tim Staffel) ��" In the midst of a freezing winter on the island of Sylt, Cem comes across Jesús, who is on the verge of committing suicide. The two young men become fast friends, with their friendship unexpectedly threatening to develop into something more. Cem and Jesús ��" laconic, alienated loners ��" find their previously uneventful lives starting to spin out of control now that each has someone who means something to him. North American Premiere
Real stories, real people, real emotions. This selection of international documentaries competing for the Gold Hugo go beyond the headlines in telling those true stories that surprise, entertain, and challenge us.
Art of Conflict: The Murals of Northern Ireland USA (Director: Valeri Vaughn) ��" Out of the heart of a violently divided region rose a unique form of expression that has given voice to two groups of people on opposing sides of a centuries-old conflict. Narrated by Vince Vaughn, this eye-opening documentary examines how the street art of murals tells the story of Northern Ireland’s history and the violent Troubles through interviews with muralists, political figures, art historians, and people who live and work in the region. North American Premiere
The Believers USA (Directors: Clayton Brown, Monica Long Ross) ��" In 1989, the future of energy production seemed at hand, when Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons announced to the world the discovery of “cold fusion.” Garnering sensational media attention, their fast-rising reputation quickly faded when nobody could reproduce their claimed results. The Believers is not only the story of a quirk in the history of science, but a personal tale of belief, integrity, disappointment, and acceptance. World Premiere
The Bella Vista Uruguay/Germany (Director: Alicia Cano) ��" The Bella Vista tells the story of a onetime soccer team’s clubhouse in Uruguay. Left abandoned for years, the house is revived as a brothel for the town’s transvestite prostitutes, raising the ire of residents who seek to reclaim the building for a Catholic chapel. In capturing the opposing sides of this conflict over a rather small, mundane building, director Alicia Cano creates a lyrical, intimate portrait of a provincial city. North American Premiere
Hometown Boy Taiwan (Director: Hung-I Yao) ��" Produced by Hou Hsiao-Hsien and bearing a touch of the master’s ability to craft moments of quiet, contemplative beauty and revelation, Hometown Boy follows artist Liu Xiao-Dong on his first visit back to his hometown of Jincheng in decades. The film captures Liu as he works on a project to repaint friends who had posed for him more than 30 years earlier, creating a compelling portrait of a major artist at work, and of Jincheng. U.S. Premiere
Jai Bhim Comrade India (Director: Anand Patwardhan) ��" 14 years in the making, activist and filmmaker Andand Patwardhan’s chronicle of the plight of the Dalits (known under the caste system as “untouchables”) provides a singular document of oppression and those who fight against it. Starting with an incident in which 10 protesting Dalits were gunned down by police, the film details both the history of their struggle and the music and poetry that has helped sustain the vitality of the culture. U.S. Premiere
Kern Austria (Directors: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala) ��" Outrageous, funny, contentious, and talented, prolific Austrian actor and filmmaker Peter Kern is a sheer force of personality. Though Franz and Fiala set out to create a straightforward portrait of the aging artist, the mercurial Kern berates the filmmakers (and anyone else within earshot) every step of the way, and can’t help but assert his own sensibilities onto a film in which he is ostensibly the subject. North American Premiere
Mekong Hotel Thailand/UK (Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul) ��" 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. Chicago Premiere
Numbered Israel (Director: Dana Doron, Uriel Sinai) ��" An estimated 400,000 people were tattooed with serial numbers at Auschwitz, of whom only a few thousand survive today. This intimate and visually rapturous documentary details the current lives of some of these survivors, their memories of the camps, and their relationships with the numbers. Numbered is an emotionally affecting portrait of memory and history, and their enduring presence in individual lives. North American Premiere
AFTER DARK COMPETITION
Blood, terror, and dark, twisted senses of humor run rampant throughout this selection of the most chilling films from around the world. Get a first look at tomorrow’s cult classics and midnight favorites!
The ABCs of Death Various (Director: Various) ��" This eclectic encyclopedia of terror and bloodshed features 26 alphabetized segments, each helmed by a different prominent horror movie director. Spanning 15 countries, the offerings range from chilling and gruesome to irreverent and hilarious, as the directors explore the theme of death in many guises. Essential viewing for horror aficionados, The ABCs of Death is an original, provocative work from a who’s who of modern horror filmmakers. Chicago Premiere
Antiviral Canada/USA (Director: Brandon Cronenberg) ��" An audacious sci-fi thriller, Antiviral tells the gripping story of Syd March, an employee at a clinic catering to celebrity fetishists by selling them diseases extracted from their heroes’ bodies. Syd, who smuggles them onto the black market through his own body, infects himself with the mysterious virus that killed superstar Hannah Geist. Chased on all sides by those who want the disease, Syd realizes he must uncover an antidote before he succumbs. U.S. Premiere
Citadel Ireland/UK (Director: Ciaran Foy) ��" A vicious attack on his wife leaves Tommy Cowley a nervous, paranoid wreck, terrified of leaving his house. When he finally dares to venture outside, he finds that the responsible gang is still at large. Convinced that these feral youths want to kidnap his baby daughter, he joins forces with a renegade priest for protection. A gothic, malevolent atmosphere pervades this dark, suspenseful tale, drawing us deeper into the protagonist’s tortured mind and increasing psychosis. Chicago Premiere
Don’t Click South Korea (Director: Kim Tae-Kyeong) ��" When cyber junkie Jung-mi learns of a sinister new “forbidden” internet video, she’ll stop at nothing to find it. However, the morbid video has strange effects on its viewers, and soon Jung-mi and her sister seem to be under a bizarre and terrifying curse. Playing on 21st century obsessions with technology, surveillance and internet fame, Don’t Click plays like an updated version of cult Japanese horror film Ringu for the dot-com generation. World Premiere
In Their Skin Canada (Director: Jeremy Power Regimbal) ��" A relaxing trip to the country for a family of stylish urbanites takes a dark and disturbing turn when they are visited by their seemingly harmless neighbors. As their unsophisticated guests’ behavior becomes increasingly strange and menacing, the family realizes that they are trapped in a terrifying and potentially deadly situation. Skillfully building the claustrophobic atmosphere with masterful control over mood and pacing, In Their Skin is a chilling, sophisticated slice of terror. Chicago Premiere
John Dies at the End USA (Director: Don Coscarelli) ��" After being introduced to a paranormal street drug known as “soy sauce,” underachieving slackers John and David decide that an otherworldly invasion is about to hit, and only they can save the human race. Meanwhile, an enigmatic journalist (Paul Giamatti) is investigating the drug, which has bizarre, dehumanizing effects on some users. This mind-bending blend of sci-fi and deadpan stoner humor is destined to become a late night cult classic. Chicago Premiere
Maniac France/USA (Director: Franck Khalfoun) ��" 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 antihero, 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. Chicago Premiere
Sleep Tight Spain (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. Chicago Premiere
SHORT FILM COMPETITION
This collection of cutting-edge short films��"encompassing narrative, documentary, experimental, animation, and student productions��"proves that a few minutes can speak volumes. Seven Short Film programs will screen back-to-back throughout Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20. Visit www.chicagofilmfestival.com to view the full list of titles.
Shorts 1: City & State
Our exciting annual showcase of the best new shorts by talented local filmmakers includes narrative, documentary, and animated works.
Shorts 2: Animation: Blurring the Lines
A gorgeous array of animation styles and techniques are put to work illustrating these strikingly original tales from around the world.
Shorts 3: Midnight Mayhem
A late night helping of thrillers and chillers, from the supernatural to the bloody to the downright bizarre.
Shorts 4: Not Ok, Cupid !
A stimulating program that encompasses sweet, saucy, sad, and subversive elements of our romantic and sexual relationships. Caution advised for those on first dates!
Shorts 5: Spotlight Middle East: Shadows And Light
A gorgeous and compelling selection of narrative, documentary and experimental shorts from across the Middle East.
Shorts 6: Truth Be Told
These absorbing documentary character studies lovingly explore a handful of unique characters and their relationships with the objects and the places that define them.
Shorts 7: Chaos Theory
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.