In 1984, all eyes were on Ben Wilson, a high school senior on the verge of leading Chicago’s Simeon High to its second straight state basketball championship and seemingly destined for NBA greatness. But Benji’s story was cut tragically short when he was shot and killed in broad daylight on his way to school. Interviews with family and friends give fresh insight into Benji’s life and untimely end, illuminating one of sport’s most tragic “what if”s.
English 79 min
How do we define Black or African-American Cinema? Who are the filmmakers and audiences? How can filmmakers ensure that the Black experience is accurately and creatively expressed? A group of filmmakers, scholars and community activists consider questions of race, voice, representation and authenticity in Black independent filmmaking.
Agustin, plagued by the physical and mental ailments of age, lives with his daughter Maria, a single mother who must now care for her father in addition to her three children. When Maria, overworked and overwhelmed, fails in her attempts to find another home for Agustin, she rashly acts out of desperation and must immediately face the consequences. Directed with flair and exquisitely photographed, The Delay is an intimate, touching family drama.
Spanish with subtitles 84 min
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.
English 73 min
A sense of vitality and excitement fills the lives of a nursing home’s inhabitants when they decide to compete in a television variety show competition. Although members of this newly-energized group are battling the effects of various illnesses or familial estrangement and neglect, they all come together in common enthusiasm to realize their dream, no matter who or what stands in their way in this heart-warming, rousing film.
Mandarin with subtitles 105 min
In the tumultuous South Africa of the late 1980s, young Otelo looks for freedom wherever he can find it. When he and his friends are introduced to surfing, they swiftly take to the sport, a welcome reprieve from pressures both societal and parental. As the group rises in skill and fame, tensions and egos inevitably develop, further flamed by Otelo’s romantic interest in his friend’s sister and the escalating political conflicts around them.
Zulu with subtitles 95 min
14 years in the making, activist and filmmaker Anand 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.
Hindi, English and Marathi with subtitles 185 min
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.
Czech with subtitles 91 min
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 significant visit back to his hometown of Jincheng in decades. The film captures Liu as he works on a project to re-paint friends who had posed for him more than 30 years earlier, creating a compelling portrait of a major artist at work, and of Jincheng.
Mandarin with subtitles 72 min
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
Everyone has a dream, and for Sigurdur Hjartarson, it is the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Having established the pre-eminent shrine to the penises of the world’s diverse species, his collection is only missing one vital piece: that of a human being. Chronicling his bizarre but sincere quest, The Final Member reveals the lecherous elderly Icelandic man and eccentric American who are vying to claim a very unique “world’s first.”
English and Icelandic with subtitles 75 min
An absurdist drama tinged with dark humor, Of Snails and Men takes place in the small Romanian town of Muscel, where a French company plans to convert the town’s failed factory into a snail cannery. Knowing that thousands will be left unemployed, the union leader concocts an outlandish scheme to buy back the factory: the workers will, en masse, travel to Bucharest to earn money at a sperm bank.
Romanian, French, and Spanish with subtitles 93 min
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
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
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.
Japanese with subtitles 133 min
The gruff, ogre-like Pumpkin and his young son live by themselves in the forest, but their comfortable isolation is disturbed when Pumpkin takes a near-fatal fall from a great height. His son, with the help of the benevolent spirits that inhabit the forest, must venture out into civilization for the first time in search of help. Filled with charming, gorgeous animation, Day of the Crows is an utterly delightful family film.
French with subtitles 94 min
In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park. Each spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before the actual criminal’s confession led to their exonerations. This powerful documentary from the great Ken Burns (The Civil War) explores this horrific crime and the appalling, racially-fraught miscarriage of justice that followed in its wake.
English 119 min
alaskaLand tells the story of Chukwuma, an Alaska-raised Nigerian struggling to balance his cultural heritage with the pressures of the larger world around him. After a family tragedy forces a two-year estrangement from his younger sister Chidinma, the siblings reconnect in their hometown. Although their time apart has created new frictions, they find their reconciliation bringing them closer to each other and to their roots in this gorgeous, knowing debut film.
English 75 min
Set in the midst of the Tahrir Square demonstrations that, in early 2011, changed Egypt forever, Winter of Discontent explores the uncertainty, anxiety, and euphoria that filled the days and nights leading up to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. As seen through the eyes of activist Amr, journalist Farah, and State Security officer Adel, momentous, world-changing events unfold on the ground in urgent, intimate detail.
Arabic with subtitles 94 min
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.
Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles 96 min
A founding member of Chicago’s celebrated Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Joan Allen has been dazzling audiences on both stage and screen throughout her remarkable career. She has shone equally in art house dramas such as Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm and Gary Ross’s Pleasantville as well as in blockbusters like the Bourne series and John Woo’s Face/Off. Her accolades include a Tony for her performance in Burn This and an Obie for her role in The Marriage of Bette & Boo as well as three Oscar® nominations for her unforgettable portrayal of Pat Nixon in Oliver Stone’s Nixon, her role as Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible, and her stunning performance of wily vice presidential candidate Laine Hansen in The Contender. Join us for a discussion of her craft, her career and her Illinois roots.6:00 pm Red carpet arrival6:30 pm Tribute and presentation of the Career Achievement Award8:30 pm Reception PUBLIC Chicago (1301 N. State Pkwy)
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.
Hebrew with subtitles 60 min
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
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.
German with subtitles 90 min
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.
Serbian with subtitles 102 min
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.
French with subtitles 115 min
From Oscar® and Gold Hugo winner Alex Gibney comes this searing documentary about the response to sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. Starting with a string of allegations at a Milwaukee school for deaf boys in the late 70s and early 80s, the film charts a decades-long, systematic cover-up that reaches all the way to Vatican. Mea Maxima Culpa provides an impassioned and detailed look at one of contemporary society’s enduring controversies.
English and Italian with subtitles 106 min
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).
English, German, and Swahili with subtitles 120 min
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.
Spanish with subtitles 90 min
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.
Korean with subtitles 91 min
Subscribe to OurMonthly eNewsletter