CHICAGO, IL (October 21, 2013) - You have one more chance to see the winners of the 49th Chicago International Film Festival’s competitions as well as some Festival favorites and Special Presentations during Best of the Fest. The screenings will be held Wednesday October 23 at the AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.).
The evening will feature a Special Presentation of Jason Reitman’s critically acclaimed Labor Day featuring Academy Award® winning actress Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin; a final showing of Errol Morris’ controversial new documentary The Unknown Known and of The Missing Picture, winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Un Certain Regard prize; and the Best of Intercom 2013, Cinema/Chicago’s annual competition of corporate, industrial, and educational filmmaking.
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM COMPETITION
MY SWEET PEPPER LAND (KURDISTAN/FRANCE/GERMANY)
Director: Hiner Saleem
Winner Gold Hugo: Best Film
After the fall of Saddam Hussein, two unlikely allies converge in a war-torn Kurdish village at the borders of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. Both Baran, a former Kurdish independence war hero, and Govend, a beautiful young woman defying tradition by accepting a post at a newly-opened school, are hell-bent on seeing order and civilization restored to their damaged country. Elements of the Western genre combine with awe-inspiring landscapes in director Hiner Saleem’s socially-inflected frontier tale.
JUST A SIGH (FRANCE)
Director: Jérôme Bonnell
Winner Silver Hugo: Best Director
Between performances of an Ibsen play in Calais, actress Alix (exquisitely played by Emmanuelle Devos) travels to Paris for an audition. On the train, she meets a mysterious, stoic Englishman (Gabriel Byrne). Played out over the course of a day, the film beautifully chronicles the blossoming of an all-too-brief love affair between the two, a momentary romance that brings hope and passion into Alix’s harried life, and comfort to her lover.
WAŁESA: MAN OF HOPE (POLAND)
Director: Andrzej Wajda
Winner Silver Hugo: Best Actor, Robert Wieckiewicz
Lech Wałesa, an electrician, husband, and new father, works at the Gdansk shipyard. Arrested at a protest, Walesa discovers that he is a born leader. When he speaks, people respond, and he soon becomes the voice and face of the growing Solidarity movement. Aware of the dangers his position entails, he is still determined to fight for his country. Legendary director Andrzej Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds, Katyn) tells the inspiring story of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader.
TRUCKER AND THE FOX (IRAN)
Director: Arash Lahooti
Winner Gold Hugo: Best Documentary
Newly released from a psychiatric hospital after a bout of severe depression brought on by the death of his pet fox, truck driver Mahmood Kiyani Falavarjani returns to his family, work, and favorite hobby - filmmaking. Having previously won awards for his short films starring his beloved, lamented fox, he sets out to film his most ambitious project yet: a love story between two donkeys. Arash Lahooti’s sympathetic documentary captures Mahmood’s fascinating life as family man, eccentric animal lover, and artist.
SHORT FILM COMPETITION
BEST OF SHORTS: ANYWAY, ANYHOW, ANYWHERE
The program includes the Gold Hugo for Best Short Film, MYSTERY, the Gold Plaque for Narrative/Live Action Short, BUTTER LAMP and a Special Mention to WHALE VALLEY
A man wakes up with a hangover, only to discover the consequences of his previous night’s actions in The Captain (Australia). A woman trapped in an unhappy marriage decides to take advice from the Virgin Mary in Mystery (Spain). A games arcade turns surreal as two schoolgirls confront their frustrations in Arcade (UK). When a young American woman enters a party in the South of France, some of the guests begin to wonder what she is doing there in Social Butterfly (France/USA). A young photographer takes a group of Tibetan nomads’ pictures against various exotic backdrops in Butter Lamp (France/Tibet). Tino’s manhood is put to the test when he has to host a date for Diablo, the family’s stud cat in The Date (Finland). The special bond between two brothers living in a remote fjord with their parents is explored in Whale Valley (Denmark/Iceland).
A THOUSAND TIMES GOOD NIGHT (NORWAY)
Director: Erik Poppe
A Thousand Times Good Night follows driven war photographer Rebecca (Juliette Binoche in one of her most powerful performances), known for her willingness to tackle risky subjects. While photographing suicide bombers, she is badly hurt in an explosion. When she returns home to Norway, her husband (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and daughter are tired of her risking her life on dangerous assignments. They give her an ultimatum, making her choose between her work and her family.
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON (JAPAN)
Director: Kore-eda Hirokazu
Hard-working architect Ryota spends his days meticulously planning his family’s future. His plans are turned upside down when he and his wife discover that, due to a hospital mix-up six years earlier, their young son Keita is not their own. The foundations of their identities as loving parents begin to crumble as they must negotiate their newly complicated circumstances, meeting their biological child and sending Keita to live with his new family.
LABOR DAY (USA)
Director: Jason Reitman
Scheduled for release early next year, Labor Day centers on 13-year-old Henry Wheeler, who struggles to be the man of his house and care for his reclusive mother Adele (Kate Winslet) while confronting all the pangs of adolescence. On a back-to-school shopping trip, Henry and his mother encounter Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin), a man both intimidating and clearly in need of help, who convinces them to take him into their home and later is revealed to be an escaped convict. The events of this long Labor Day weekend will shape them for the rest of their lives.
THE REST OF THE FEST
SOMETHING NECESSARY (KENYA/GERMANY)
Director: Judy Kibinge
Anne struggles to rebuild her life after Kenya’s civil unrest has killed her husband, gravely injured her son, and left her isolated farm in ruins. Joseph, a quiet and troubled young gang member who took part in the countrywide violence, is drawn to Anne and her farm, seemingly in search of connection and redemption. This powerful story of forgiveness and reconciliation presents an intimate look at the aftermath of violence on both perpetrators and victims.
Director: Florian Eichinger
In this brooding, sharply written drama, long estranged brothers Marten and Volker reunite at their abandoned childhood home. Hoping to convince his still angry younger brother to reconcile with their imprisoned mother, Marten finds his efforts to reunite the family thwarted by Volker’s deep rooted resentments. Steadily paced and punctuated with intriguing twists, Nordstrand tracks the troubled history and painful present of a family torn apart.
Director: Chung Mong-Hong
In this deeply unsettling psychological thriller, A-Chuan, a quiet young chef, unexpectedly collapses one night and becomes catatonic. When he finally awakens in his childhood mountain home, he doesn’t seem quite like himself, as if he is possessed. As he evinces unstable and even dangerous tendencies, his father grows more and more wary, until A-Chuan’s strange, violent behavior sets off a sequence of chilling events in the remote, hazy alpine locale.
HARMONY LESSONS (KAZAKHSTAN/GERMANY/FRANCE)
Director: Emir Baigazin
Writer-director Emir Baigazin announces himself as a major new voice with this startling, ecstatically received debut feature. 13-year-old Aslan lives with his grandmother in rural Kazakhstan, where young thugs run the local schoolyard like an extortion racket, systematically bullying children for their money. After a humiliating incident during a medical examination, Aslan becomes a social outcast, growing increasingly isolated until he decides to take grim revenge on his tormentors.
Director: Michael Noer
A gritty gangster film set in the outskirts of Copenhagen, Northwest follows smalltime thief Casper. Still only 18, Casper’s self-serving ambition leads him to abandon the neighborhood boss, Jamal, for his rival Björn, who promises him more - more money and more responsibility. Tensions are high between the two gangs, however, and Casper soon finds himself and his family at the center of a conflict that threatens to destroy them.
SABLE FABLE (UK)
Director: Stephen Lloyd Jackson
The lives of several couples intertwine through a complex web of love and infidelity in this intimate exploration of race and contemporary relationships. At the center of this romantic network is blogger Dark Mark, whose profile as a writer is growing as his penetrating essays on race relations earn him a regular magazine column and a book contract. When he leaves his girlfriend Vanessa for his white editor, a twisted, tragic fate awaits him and those he loves.
THE NUN (FRANCE/GERMANY/BELGIUM)
Director: Guillaume Nicloux
Forced to join a convent against her will at 16, Suzanne describes, in a series of letters written in secret, her yearnings for freedom and her persecution and mistreatment at the hands of her fellow nuns - including Isabelle Huppert in an electrifying performance as her Mother Superior. Her tragic life of suffering and her confrontations with hypocritical church authorities are chronicled with raw, powerful emotion in this moving adaptation of Denis Diderot’s treasured novel.
FLOATING SKYSCRAPERS (POLAND)
Director: Tomasz Wasilewski
When the self-assured Kuba, a promising swimmer who lives with his gorgeous girlfriend, meets shy young student Michal, he finds himself falling in love. But his family’s overwhelmingly negative response to his new relationship compounds his own deep-seated internal conflicts and insecurities. Kuba attempts to find peace and fulfillment while keeping one foot in the closet in this moving depiction of the psychic turmoil wrought by homophobia.
Director: Kaveh Bakhtiari
Learning that his cousin Mohsen has left Iran illegally, filmmaker Kaveh Bakhtiari travels to Athens, a common middle ground for undocumented migrants hoping to reach other European countries. Stop-Over captures the constant tension of these immigrants’ everyday lives in the shadows, where every trip outside a crowded safe house is fraught with the danger of arrest and deportation, in a powerful first-person account of life lived under the radar.
PURGATORIO (MEXICO, USA)
Director: Rodrigo Reyes
By turns beautiful, brutal, and eye-opening, Rodrigo Reyes’ documentary offers a thoughtful portrait of the US-Mexico border. His wide-ranging aesthetic inquiry incorporates interviews with border-crossers, coroners, dogcatchers, police, and others on both sides, tying these disparate stories together through stunning imagery that depicts the border as an almost mythic place. Purgatorio is less concerned with polemics than it is with considering the human implications of defining and enforcing a line between two nations.
THE UNKNOWN KNOWN (USA)
Director: Errol Morris
Dedicated to Roger Ebert, The Unknown Known offers a mesmerizing portrait of Donald Rumsfeld, the larger-than-life figure who served as George W. Bush’s secretary of defense and as the principal architect of the Iraq War. Rather than conducting a conventional interview, director Errol Morris has Rumsfeld perform and explain his “snowflakes” - the enormous archive of memos he wrote across almost fifty years. The memos provide a window into history - not as it actually happened, but as Rumsfeld wants us to see it.
THERE WILL COME A DAY (ITALY/FRANCE)
Director: Giorgio Diritti
After a series of devastating events, the beautiful young Augusta leaves Italy for Brazil to work as a missionary among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. When her dissatisfaction with the Church reaches a breaking point, she settles with a family in a port favela hoping to lead a more authentic life, far removed from her painful past. Filled with astonishing imagery, this gorgeous, meditative film follows Augusta’s spiritual quest in search of meaning and solace.
Director: Alex van Warmerdam
Driven by the authorities from his underground hideout, the enigmatic Camiel Borgman is on the run. Covered in dirt, he arrives at Marina and Richard’s large suburban estate asking to use their shower, thus beginning a game of sly calculation as he insinuates himself into their home. He soon starts to manipulate the family with almost preternatural charisma as his more sinister plans make themselves known in this chilling demonic tale.
THE MISSING PICTURE (CAMBODIA/FRANCE)
Director: Rithy Panh
Winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Un Certain Regard prize, this highly personal, moving account of director Rithy Panh’s own experiences of the Cambodian genocide addresses the lack of images of the government’s atrocities by creating its own. Intricately detailed clay figurines are employed to represent young Panh, his family, and many others brutally victimized by the Khmer Rouge in this inventive yet rigorous approach to a haunting subject.
AFRICAN MUSIC VIDEOS
With a new generation of African musicians, we see once again, that there is always something new out of Africa. This program includes work that mixes regional forms with hip-hop and R&B, and reflects the intense cultural pride of musicians whose lineage in music can be traced back 1000 years.
BEST OF INTERCOM 2013
This screening will showcase some of this year’s winning work, presenting an hour of non-theatrical filmmaking whose level of cinematic achievement truly deserves to be seen on the big screen.
TICKET AND THEATER INFORMATION
can be purchased online via Ticketmaster www.ticketmaster.com/chicagofilmfestival;
by phone at 312-332-FILM (3456); or by visiting the Festival box office at AMC
River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.) or at the Cinema/Chicago office (30 E.
Adams, Suite 800).
Festival screenings will be held at the AMC River East 21 Theater (322 E. Illinois St.).
Led by Presenting Partner Columbia College Chicago, the 49th Chicago International Film Festival's sponsors include: Official Airline - American Airlines; Headquarters Hotel - JW Marriott Chicago; Official Vehicle - Mercedes-Benz; Producing Partners: AMC Theaters, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Major Partners: Illinois Office of Tourism and Intersites; Supporting Partners: DePaul University School of Cinema and Interactive Media, Stella Artois, Effen Vodka, WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9FM, Cultivate Studios; Participating Partners: State Farm, AARP, Tres Generaciones®, Comcast, Allstate, Spotlight Cinema Networks, Casale del Giglio, Second City Computers, Shutterbox Entertainment, Gibson’s Restaurant Group, RL Restaurant, Creative Technology and Lavazza Espression.
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Cinema/Chicago is a not-for-profit cultural and educational organization dedicated to encouraging better understanding between cultures and to making a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image. The Chicago International Film Festival is part of the year-round programs presented by Cinema/Chicago, which also include the International Screenings Program (May-September), the Chicago International Television Competition (April), CineYouth Festival (May), Intercom Competition (October) and year-round Education Outreach and Member Screenings Program.
For images go to http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/press/