Gene Siskel Film Center announces schedule for the 15th annual European Union Film Festival | Bleader

Gene Siskel Film Center announces schedule for the 15th annual European Union Film Festival



Hors Satan (Outside Satan)
  • Hors Satan (Outside Satan)
The European Union Film Festival, the city’s best film fest for several years running, begins in three weeks. The Gene Siskel Film Center announced the schedule yesterday (it’s already online), and it’s another commendable program: if I can find the time, I hope to see about two dozen of the 65 titles they have lined up. As usual, the program strikes a balance between crowd-pleasers and more challenging work, with local premieres from some of the most important living filmmakers. Some of this year’s major selections include Outside Satan (Hors Satan), a stark fable by the ever-polarizing Bruno Dumont (L’Humanité, Hadewijch) that Cahiers du cinema listed as one of its top ten films for 2011; a program of shorts by Claire Denis, Jean-Marie Straub, and José Luis Guérin (In the City of Sylvia); and Alps, the latest from Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos.

There are always gems among the less-feted titles. Each year offers solid work by filmmakers who rarely receive widespread U.S. distribution (I’m thinking mainly of Czech writer-director Jan Hrebejk, who has an observant social portrait in the festival almost every year), as well as first or second features that have been well-received on the festival circuit (such as Ulrich Köhler’s African-set diptych Sleeping Sickness). Many of the selections, however, arrive with little fanfare besides the summaries in the Film Center gazette. I’d recommend checking out a few of these, as they tend to offer greater insight into various European cultures than one gets from American news (I always learn something from the Bulgarian selections, for example, even when the movies themselves aren’t very good). And when the overall programming is this strong, one can safely go into something he hasn’t heard of with a fair amount of confidence.