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Film: The 14th Annual European Union Film Festival, Gene Siskel, Film Center, March 4 – March 31

The 14th Annual European Union Film Festival

From March 4 through 31, the Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes you to the 14th Annual European Union Film Festival, the largest showcase in North America for the cinema of European Union nations. This year’s festival, our largest yet, boasts 64 films representing 24 nations, highlighted by new films from major directors including Michael Winterbottom (THE TRIP), Catherine Breillat (THE SLEEPING BEAUTY), Tony Gatlif (KORKORO), Álex de la Iglesia (THE LAST CIRCUS), Nicholas Philibert (NÉNETTE), Manoel de Oliveira (THE STRANGE CASE OF ANGELICA), Christi Puiu (AURORA), Pedro Costa (CHANGE NOTHING), Pantelis Voulgaris (WITH HEART AND SOUL), and Jan Hrebejk (KAWASAKI’S ROSE).

According to the tradition of our festival, the opening night is presided over by the nation currently holding the presidency of the European Union. On Friday, March 4, our hosts are the Honorable Karoly Dan, Consul General of Hungary in New York, and Kaarina Koskenalusta, Honorary Consul of Hungary, Chicago, who will introduce the opening night film BIBLIOTHÈQUE PASCAL, Hungary’s dark and fanciful designated Academy Award contender. Director Szabolcs Hajdu and star Orsolya Török-Illyés will be present for audience discussion.

Also scheduled to appear are director Cary Fukunaga and star Mia Wasikowska of the United Kingdom’s JANE EYRE (March 6), director Tomas Donela of Lithuania’s FAREWELL (March 12 and 17), and actress/supermodel Liya Kebede of the United Kingdom’s DESERT FLOWER (March 13). Other possible guest appearances were unconfirmed at press time; please check back for updates on guest appearances and added special events in association with screenings.

In all, the festival includes nine films that were selected to represent their nations in this year’s competition for Best Foreign Language Film. In addition to BIBLIOTHÈQUE PASCAL, we screen the official Academy Award contenders from Austria (LA PIVELLINA), Belgium (ILLEGAL), the Czech Republic (KAWASAKI’S ROSE), Estonia (THE TEMPTATION OF ST. TONY), Italy (THE FIRST BEAUTIFUL THING), Portugal (TO DIE LIKE A MAN), Slovakia (THE BORDER), and Slovenia (9:06).

We close the festival on Thursday, March 31, with Michael Winterbottom’s hilarious road comedy THE TRIP, followed by a closing night reception hosted by Whole Foods Market.

The Gene Siskel Film Center thanks the consulates, the consuls general, and the cultural institutes of the European Union in Chicago, and their embassies in Washington, D.C., for their enthusiastic participation. We especially salute the efforts of all those who served on the festival planning committee.

—Barbara Scharres and Martin Rubin

Vote for the Audience Award! Win a Free Membership!

Vote for the European Union Film Festival’s Audience Award, and your ballot may be selected for the grand prize of a year’s membership to the Film Center! Ballots are available in the lobby. Past winners of the award include I’M NOT SCARED (2004), COLOSSAL SENSATION! (2005), CLEAN (2006), AFTER THE WEDDING (2007), THE UNKNOWN WOMAN (2008), THE BEACHES OF AGNES (2009), and THE WORLD IS BIG AND SALVATION LURKS AROUND THE CORNER (2010).

Purchase a European Union festival pass for $50!

6 movies for the price of 5, plus a free small popcorn with each film. Turn your pass in at the end of the festival for a $5 discount on a Gene Siskel Film Center membership. An $83 value for $50!

For their generous assistance in obtaining films for the European Union Film Festival, the Gene Siskel Film Center thanks:

Austria: Dr. Thomas Schnoell, Joanne McAllister, Consulate General of Austria

Belgium: Martine Leclerq, Wallonia (Belgium) Trade & Investment, Chicago; Claude Stomp, Flanders Investment and Trade, Chicago; Frank Verpoorten, Flanders House, New York; Madeline Shapiro, Caviar Films

Bulgaria: Valentin Donchev, Lila Georgieva, Bulgarian Consulate General, Chicago; Mila Petkova, Bulgarian National Film Center; Christian Nochev, Andy Film; Anri Koulev, Svetlana Ganeva, Koulev Film Production

Czech Republic: Dana Hunatova, Consulate General of the Czech Republic, Chicago; Denmark: Lizette Gram Mygind, The Danish Film Institute

Estonia: Tristan Priimagi, Estonian Film Foundation

Finland: Jenni Domingo, The Finnish Film Foundation

France: Institut Français; Laurence Geannopulos, Jean-François Rochard, Cultural Services at the Consulate General of France in Chicago

Germany: Werner Ott, Eugene Sampson, Goethe-Institut, Chicago

Greece: Liza Linardou, Greek Film Center

Hungary: Bela Bunyik, Bunyik Entertainment; Katalin Vajda, Magyar Filmunio; Karoly Dan, Consulate General of Hungary, NY; Kaarina Koskenalusta, Honorary Consulate of Hungary, Chicago; Miklos Martin Kovacs, Hungarian Investment & Trade Commission; Bonnie Miller

Ireland: Tim Reilly, Consulate General of Ireland, Chicago; Claire McCaughley, Treasure, Entertainment, Ltd.

Italy: Silvio Marchetti, Mary Anne Melchior, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Chicago; Barbara Klein, Italian Film Festival of St. Louis; Catia Rossi, RAI Trade S.p.A.

Lithuania: Skaiste Aniuliene, Agnė Vertelkaitė, Consulate General of the Republic of Lithuania, Chicago; Tomas Donela

Luxembourg: Joy Hoffmann, Centre National de l’Audiovisuel; Valeska Neu, Films Boutique

Netherlands: Carla Bourgonje, Consulate General of the Netherlands, Chicago; Madeline Shapiro, Caviar Films

Portugal: Anne-Mathilde Roudaut, Insomnia World Sales

Romania: Oana Radu, Romanian Cultural Institute; Anne Wiedlack, M-appeal

Slovakia: Alexandra Strelková, Slovak Film Institute; David Corba, Leon Productions; Silvia Pinterova, Film Europe

Slovenia: Estelle Gadaud, Insomnia World Sales

Spain: Javier Ruperez, Consulate General of Spain; Ignacio Olmos, Teresa Hernando, Instituto Cervantes de Chicago

Sweden: Gunnar Almér, Swedish Film Institute; Kerstin Lane, Consulate of Sweden

and also: Jed Rapfogel, Anthology Film Archives; Ryan Krivoshey, The Cinema Guild; John Poole, Jr., Corinth Films; Rebeca Conget, Film Movement; Paul Marchant, First Run Features; Sonia Pachmayer, Focus Features; Livia Bloom, Icarus Films; Ryan Werner, Jonathan Hertzberg, Elizabeth Brambilla, Cary Jones, Kim Kalyka, IFC Films; Gary Palmucci, Jason Leaf, Kino International; Neal Block, Magnolia Pictures; Neil Friedman, Menemsha Films, Inc.; Ed Arentz, Brian Andreotti, Suzanne Fedak, Music Box Films; Laura Kim, James Lewis, National Geographic Entertainment; Adam Sekuler, Northwest Film Forum; John Tilley, Olive Films; Debbi Berlin, Palisades Tartan; Brandon Peters, Strand Releasing; Lara Bogenrief, Terry Hines & Associates; Kelli Larson, Lindsay Wiser, World Wide Motion Picture Corporation; Carl Youngdahl; Clemence Taillandier, Zeitgeist Films.

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The Desert of Forbidden Art, Gene Siskel Film Center, November 1

The film will be playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center on October 31st at 3:00pm and November 1st at 8:00pm. For tickets go to

The Desert of Forbidden Art is about the second largest collection of Russian Avant-Garde art in the world.  The Nukus museum, where it is housed, is in one of the poorest regions of the world, Central Asia, but the collection is worth millions.  Most of this art has never been seen before and is virtually unknown in the west.  The New York Times calls the collection, “One of the most remarkable collections of 20th-century Russian Art.”  Ben Kingsley, a collector himself, voices the museum’s collector, Savitsky.  Under Soviet rule, Savitsky risked everything to collect this “forbidden” art, and stash it away in his museum in Uzbekistan.

The Desert of Forbidden Art has already screened at the National Gallery of Art in DC, the MFA Boston, and many festivals.  The film will air on the Emmy-award winning PBS Independent Lens.  We’ve won best doc at Palm Beach, and most recently the Cine Golden Eagle Award.  We hope this film will interest you and your students.  Please feel free to visit our website for our trailer and other materials.

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