CHICAGO, IL (October 20, 2014) – You have one more chance to see the winners of the 50th Chicago International Film Festival’s competitions as well as some Festival favorites and special screenings during Best of the Fest. The screenings will be held Wednesday October 22 at the AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.).
The evening will feature a screening of the 25th anniversary restored edition of Michael Moore’s groundbreaking documentary, “Roger and Me,” originally presented at the Festival’s 25th anniversary celebration in 1989. Michael Moore will introduce the screening. Also in the evening’s program: a special presentation of “Life Itself,” the critically acclaimed documentary on the life and times of “Chicago Sun Times” film critic and Festival friend Roger Ebert; director Steve James and RogerEbert.com publisher and Roger’s wife Chaz Ebert will present the film.
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM COMPETITION
“THE PRESIDENT” (GEORGIA, FRANCE, UK, GERMANY)
Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Winner Gold Hugo: Best Film
In this dark satire of power, dispossession and revenge from Iranian New Wave master Mohsen Makmalbaf (Kandahar), a dictator comes face to face with the people he previously subjugated. When a coup d’état overthrows a leader’s brutal rule and the rest of his family flees the country by plane, The President becomes a fugitive, along with his young grandson, and confronts, first-hand, the hardships and anger experienced by his own people.
NEW DIRECTORS COMPETITION
“UNDERDOG” (SWEDEN, NORWAY)
Director: Ronnie Sandahl
Winner Gold Hugo: Best Film
A financially strapped, disaffected young Swede lands in Norway in search of employment. When she begins work as a housekeeper at middle-class Steffan’s home, neither anticipates the impact she will have on their lives and his family. Ronnie Sandahl’s emotionally satisfying debut features an urban modern-day romance while tackling issues of class, privilege and the changing balance of power between Sweden and Norway.
“ECHO OF THE MOUNTAIN” (MEXICO)
Director: Nicolás Echevarría
Winner Gold Hugo: Best Documentary
Chronicling Mexican muralist Santos de la Torre’s pilgrimage to gain the gods’ blessing for a new project, documentarian Nicolas Echevarría captures the creative process of an unsung master and the traditions of Mexico’s marginalized Huichol culture. Simultaneously emotive and ethnographic, Echevarría’s camera provides impressionistic views of a shrinking landscape dotted with healing springs and hallucinogenic cacti, as Santos’ family performs ancient rituals of rejuvenation.
OUTLOOK COMPETITION/Q HUGO AWARD
Director: Panos H. Koutras
Winner Gold Q Hugo: Best Film
After the death of their Albanian lounge-singing mother, sprightly gay Dany and his heterosexual older brother Odysseus set out on a journey to find their estranged Greek father, in order to be able to remain in the country legally. A candy-colored, crowd-pleasing road movie, filled with dance sequences and celebrity cameos, Greek New Wave pioneer Panos Koutras lovingly presents a celebration of tolerance, while revealing the disturbing fascist strains currently threatening his nation.
SHORT FILM COMPETITION
“BEST OF SHORTS: MEET NOT SO CUTE”
The program includes the Silver Hugo winner for Short Film: Documentary “LOVE.LOVE.LOVE.” and the winner of the Gold Plaque for Best Student Short, “SKUNK”
Every year, through endless winters, love takes new shapes and forms in “Love.Love.Love.” (Russia). Two people love each other very, very much in “I Love You So Much” (USA). Leila is forced to stand up for herself, at the cost of her own innocence in “Skunk” (USA). In “Forever Over” (Germany), a couple tries to reinvigorate their relationship. In “La Petite Maison” (UK), a man can’t help but see his girlfriend as various objects—including a French tart. There is a first time for just about everything in “Serori” (Netherlands). A voyeur helps a young couple make a life changing discovery in “Counterpart” (UK).
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
“THE 100-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED” (SWEDEN)
Director: Felix Herngren
Hilarity ensues when an elderly man discovers a suitcase full of money and embarks on a fantastic adventure, involving a frozen corpse, a circus elephant, and a biker gang. Meanwhile, episodes from his past reveal his decades-long proclivity for changing the course of history. Based on the bestselling novel by Jonas Jonasson, this crowd-pleasing Swedish take on “Forrest Gump” combines sidesplitting comedy with genuine tenderness.
50TH ANNIVERSARY RETROSPECTIVE SCREENING
“ROGER & ME” (USA)
Director: Michael Moore
Michael Moore presents this 25th anniversary restored version of his breakthrough debut. An irreverent look at his hometown, Flint, Michigan, which had been economically decimated by downsizing at General Motors, the film charts Moore’s much-thwarted efforts to meet with then-GM Chairman Roger Smith. Blending humor with scathing indictment, “Roger and Me” ignited a national discussion about the cruelties of corporate America that remains just as relevant today. Michael Moore in person
THE REST OF THE FEST
“PARIS OF THE NORTH” (ICELAND, DENMARK, FRANCE)
Director: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
Relocated from Reykjavik to a dilapidated rural fishing village, former alcoholic Hugi spends his time teaching elementary school and attending AA meetings. His path to recovery, however, is derailed by the arrival of his philandering, beer-guzzling dad. A droll and gentle character study, “Paris of the North” is a captivating account of fathers and sons mending their stunted relationships while finding the courage to push forward with their own lives.
Director: Elchin Musaoglu Guliyev
When war forces the evacuation of villagers out of a mountainous region in Azerbaijan, the formidable aging Nabat, faithfully tied to her family and her land, refuses to leave. Persevering in a deserted village, her resolve is tested through progressively dire circumstances. With breathtaking cinematography, unfolding in long, masterful tracking shots, the stunning Nabat is a sublimely moving testament to the enduring power of one woman—and of a country—surviving against all odds.
“EL CORDERO” (CHILE)
Director: Juan Francisco Olea
When Domingo, a mild-mannered, highly devout Catholic, accidentally kills his secretary, he suffers… from a lack of remorse. Tormented by not feeling a sense of guilt, he sets out, ironically, on a spree of unlawful and increasingly bloody acts in order to recover his moral compass. “El Cordero”—which literally means “the lamb”—is a pitch-black comic character study and skillful inquiry into the double standards of Catholic guilt and repentance.
“1001 GRAMS” (NORWAY)
Director: Bent Hamer
Anna, a scientist who specializes in weights and measures, lives a life of precision, rigidity and solitude. But when her father, a fellow scientist, suffers a heart attack, Anna’s world falls out of perfect alignment. Wry and winsome, this beautifully told and thoughtful human story—and Norway’s official submission for the Academy Awards—follows Anna on a journey from Norway to France and back, as she attempts to find the right balance in her life.
Director: Colette Bothof
Quiet timid Anna lives under the shadow of her rural community’s power plant—a continually humming reminder of her town’s traditional ways. Unable to fit in and searching for her sexual identity, she gets just the boost she needs with the arrival of an alluring leather-clad biker chick. With genuine performances and warm cinematography that captures the heat and suffocation of summertime, Collette Bothof’s touching second feature examines a girl daring to be different.
BEST OF INTERCOM 2014
This screening will showcase some of this year’s winning work from the INTERCOM competition, presenting an hour of non-theatrical filmmaking whose level of cinematic achievement truly deserves to be seen on the big screen.
“DOCTOR PROCTOR’S FART POWDER” (NORWAY)
Director: Arild Frölich
When young Lisa and her new neighbor Nilly team up with a reclusive inventor, an adventure begins and the farts begin to fly. Based on the popular children’s books by Jo Nesbø (“The Snowman”), “Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder” is a modern-day fairy tale lovingly brought to the big screen with a raucous mix of childhood wonder, bright colors and a wry sense of humor.
“SPEED WALKING” (DENMARK)
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Being twelve is hard enough, but for Martin, a budding speed walker, this minefield is made more bewildering by his mother’s sudden death and Denmark’s newly liberalized pornography laws. With a candid and sensitive perspective, director Niels Arden Oplev (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) uses the story of a boy’s sexual coming-of-age in the mid-‘70s as a tender allegory about a society coming to terms with its new and sudden openness.
“ALLELUIA” (BELGIUM, FRANCE)
Director: Fabrice Du Welz
When pathologically shy Gloria and professional hustler Michel are set up on a blind date, the sparks between them ignite into an almost otherworldly torrent of passion that culminates in a gruesome, chaotic killing spree. A blistering, anxious fever-dream based on the disturbing true story of the Lonely Hearts Killers, “Alleluia” marks the long-awaited return of Belgian midnight movie maven Fabrice Du Welz (“Calvaire”).
“FAIR PLAY” (CZECH REPUBLIC, SLOVAKIA, GERMANY)
Director: Andrea Sedlácková
Czechoslovakia, 1984. Anna, a sprinter training for the Olympics, is pressured by the Soviet system to take anabolic steroids to give her a competitive edge. Realizing too late the dangers of taking the drugs, she is drawn into a personal struggle that goes way beyond the racetrack. A political and psychological thriller with deftly drawn characters, “Fair Play” exposes the dangerous entanglement of ideology and sports in times of oppression.
“IT FOLLOWS” (USA)
Director: David Robert Mitchell
A seemingly casual sexual encounter turns into a living hell for teenage girl Jay when she discovers that a sinister curse has been passed on to her—a nameless, shapeless presence that doggedly pursues her everywhere she goes. Infused with an ominous sense of dread, “It Follows” turns familiar archetypes of suburban life into a horrifying nightmare as the terrified Jay tries to rid herself of the stalking shape-shifter.
“A FEW CUBIC METERS OF LOVE” (IRAN, AFGHANISTAN)
Director: Jamshid Mahmoudi
In a shantytown encampment comprised of sheet metal and abandoned tires, Sabar, an Iranian worker, and Marona, the daughter of an illegal Afghan laborer, meet for chaste romantic encounters in a shipping container. But faced with the threat of Marona’s deportation and the prejudice of their communities, can their dreams of marriage be realized? This year’s breakout film from Iran’s Fajr Film Festival is a bittersweet tale of pure love and racial tolerance. Director Jamshid Mahmoudi Will Attend the Screening.
“EVERYTHING WE LOVED” (NEW ZEALAND)
Director: Max Currie
This lucid and poignant debut film imagines how a magician and his wife, still in mourning over the death of their son, attempt to form a new family with another child. With poignant performances, stunning cinematography and well-scripted suspense—as they struggle to keep the illusion a secret from their community—“Everything We Loved” is a moving and compelling account of a couple coming to terms with guilt and grief.
“THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER” (ISRAEL, FRANCE)
Director: Nadav Lapid
This engrossing drama from rising Israeli auteur Nadav Lapid (“Policemen”) follows Nira, an Israeli schoolteacher who becomes obsessed with the poetry of one of her five-year-old pupils, going so far as to protect him from a materialistic father and a society that she believes is too superficial to appreciate him. Political and profound in unexpected ways, “The Kindergarten Teacher” confirms the boldness and mastery of a new wave in Israeli cinema.
“LIFE ITSELF” (USA)
Director: Steve James
Acclaimed director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) and executive producers Martin Scorsese (“The Departed”) and Steven Zaillian (“Moneyball”) present “Life Itself,” a documentary film that recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert – a story that is by turns personal, funny, painful, and transcendent. Based on his bestselling memoir of the same name, “Life Itself,” explores the legacy of Roger Ebert’s life, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the “Chicago Sun-Times” to becoming one of the most influential cultural voices in America. Steve James and Chaz Ebert will present the film.
“THE LESSON” (LATVIA, RUSSIA)
Director: Andris Gauja
An attractive Russian language teacher takes a new job in the Latvian city of Riga mentoring an unruly group of graduating seniors. After wooing them with drunken parties at her apartment, she shrewdly takes control of the class—until one of her male students begins to pursue her. Superbly directed with subtlety, empathy and suspense, director Andris Guaja lets this surprising and satisfying character-driven story unfold with all the messiness of real life. Director Andris Gauja will attend the screening.
“A DREAM OF IRON” (SOUTH KOREA, USA)
Director: Kelvin Kyung Kun Park
Winner of a special prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, “A Dream of Iron” fulfills the poetic, personal, and historical potential of the documentary form. After being spurned by a lover who left in search of a shamanic god, Kelvin Kyung Kun Park undertook a sprawling search for a deity among whales in the sea, a shipyard, and a steelworks factory. An essay film about faith, modernity, and Korea’s industrial history told through rapturous imagery.
Ticketing and Theater Information
Regular films: $11/members, students*, and seniors*; $14/non-members (*with valid ID)
Weekday matinees (films only): $7 tickets, Monday-Friday through 5:00pm
10 after 10: $10 tickets, every day after 10:00pm
Special Presentations: $16/members, $20/non-members
Tickets and passes can be purchased online at www.chicagofilmfestival.com, by calling 312-332-FILM (3456), or in person at the Festival Box Office at AMC River East 21.
Festival screenings will be held at the AMC River East 21 Theater (322 E. Illinois St.).
For the full schedule and ticketing information, visit www.chicagofilmfestival.com
Led by Tourism Partner Illinois Office of Tourism and Presenting Partners Columbia College Chicago, the 50th Chicago International Film Festival’s sponsors include Official Airline: American Airlines; Headquarters Hotel: JW Marriott Chicago; Major Partner: Intersites, Wintrust Community Banks; Participating Partners: AARP, Allstate, Bloomberg, Casale del Giglio, Cultivate Studios, Netrix, Stella Artois; Platinum Media Sponsors: NCM Media Networks, Ingage Media, JC Decaux, Michigan Avenue Magazine.
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Cinema/Chicago, the presenting organization of the Chicago International Film Festival, is a not-for-profit arts and education organization dedicated to encouraging better understanding between cultures and to making a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image.