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European Union Film Festival

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European Union Film Festival

The European Union Film Festival continues Friday, February 12, through Sunday, February 21, at the Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Admission is $6, $3 for Film Center members. For further

information call 312-443-3737.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12

Their Frozen Dream

In Flight of the Eagle (1982) Swedish director Jan Troell dramatized an 1897 balloon expedition to the north pole that ended in disaster for three Scandinavian explorers. Fifteen years later, on the 100th anniversary of the event, he created this hour-long documentary, using diaries, logs, letters, and footage from his earlier film to retell the riveting story of those foolhardy adventurers, who died in the arctic cold months after their balloon crashed and whose remains weren't found until 1930. Like the work of Ken Burns, the film is impeccably paced, and the ghostly images from the explorers' posthumously developed photographs underscore both their resolve and the poignance of their quixotic mission. (TS) (6:00)

Temptation

A small-town priest falls for a beautiful ex-con and joins her in heroin addiction. This 1998 film from Portugal seems driven more by its manipulative inclusion of torrid scenes--priest with naked woman! priest shoots up!--than by its characters, whose motivations remain obscure. Some moments are dramatically effective (the fallen priest protecting a group of Gypsies, for instance), but director Joaquim Leitao provides more cynical exploitation than genuine insight. It worked--Temptation was the biggest box-office hit in Portuguese history. (FC) (7:15)

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13

A Summer by the River

A man recently widowed and his ten-year-old son become loggers in this 1998 coming-of-age film, a box-office hit in Finland and the country's official Oscar entry. Markku Polonen directed. (4:15)

Lucie Aubrac

Carole Bouquet plays the title character, a woman trying to save her husband (Daniel Auteuil) after the Nazis sentence him to die for his role in the French resistance. Claude Berri directed this 1996 French drama. (6:00)

You're Laughing

A pair of stories based on characters from Luigi Pirandello. Directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (The Night of the Shooting Stars). (8:15)

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14

Vassiliki

This 1997 Greek film is supposedly based on actual events, but it seems more like male fantasy than dramatic realism. During Greece's civil war of the late 40s, an army officer brutally interrogates a woman because her lover is a communist. He then rapes her, but when he finds the woman later, she marries him. Director Vangelis Serdaris wants us to sympathize with the officer when he's persecuted for wedding a commie, which I couldn't stomach. It doesn't help matters that the imagery is so stupidly functional, the camera mechanically following the action. (FC) (3:30)

Barbara

The title character of this 1997 Danish historical drama is a familiar one, the beautiful but insatiable woman who can't remain faithful, and while Anneke von der Lippe is gently appealing as Barbara, she never quite communicates the passions governing her behavior. Yet the scenery is spectacular: director Nils Malmros presents the treeless landscape of Denmark's Faeroe Islands in studied, painterly images, stressing its similarity to the expanses of sea and sky. These images never quite flow together cinematically, but Malmros has a good feel for the life of this secluded outpost, where a ship's arrival is a major event in the islanders' lives. (FC) (6:00)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18

Sweety Barrett

A naive circus performer is exploited by smugglers in a story whose quirkiness doesn't make up for the slight and predictable themes. Laid off by a family-owned circus, Sweety (Brendan Gleeson) finds work in an Irish port town controlled by a corrupt police detective, where he befriends a woman and her son. He begins to train the fascinated boy to become a fire-eater, and there are some cute moments in their familial relationship. But the machinations of the bad guy and his flunkies largely resemble those of cartoon villains, and we're bludgeoned by the score. Written and directed by Stephen Bradley. (LA) (6:00)

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Barbara film still.

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