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European Union Film Festival

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European Union Film Festival

The European Union Film Festival continues Friday through Sunday, February 19 through 21, at the Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Admission is $7, $3 for Film Center members. For further information call 312-443-3737.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19

Unmarried Couples--A Comedy That Will Break You Up

This 1997 Swedish comedy-drama about the friendship between two middle-aged couples is interesting for its occasionally outrageous situations and its witty, cynical dialogue ("Men are great sometimes." "Yeah. When they don't fart"). The men are pretentious narcissists: one, an actor, claims to seek "the outer limits of pain," while the other, a writer who erupts without warning, explains that he "can't agree" to be schizophrenic. But director Peter Dalle proves as manipulative as his lovers, bracketing a large chunk of the plot as one character's dream. (FC) (6:00)

The Underground Orchestra

For this Dutch-financed documentary (1997), director Heddy Honigmann and her crew interviewed itinerant musicians on the streets and in the subways of Paris, occasionally winning invitations to visit the performers' homes. Almost all of her subjects are political refugees or illegal immigrants from Venezuela, Argentina, Armenia, Bosnia, Algeria, Romania, and Vietnam (among others); they speak of hardship and disillusionment on the margins of French society but find solace in the music of their homelands. Artfully soliciting candid opinions and reminiscences, Honigmann assembles a mosaic of the postcolonial diaspora that populates the crowded ethnic enclaves of Paris, and the emotional, lovingly captured songs seem to turn the City of Light into a bazaar of world music. (TS) (7:45)

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20

Comanche Territory

See Critic's Choice. (4:00)

Notes of Love

A troubled, superstitious young woman falls in love with a lonely cello instructor, but he mistakes her anonymous messages as coming from a young student. Mimmo Calopresti directed this 1998 Italian film; with Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Fabrizio Bentivoglio. (6:00)

Get Real

Simon Shore directed this 1998 British comedy about a 16-year-old boy (Ben Silverstone) coming to grips with his homosexuality. With Brad Gorton and Charlotte Brittain; a commercial release will follow later this year. (7:45)

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21

Half World

In this mannered science fiction film from 1993, the sun's rays have become deadly; people venture out mostly at night or in sealed-off taxicabs that operate with video monitors, and banned postcards of idyllic daytime scenes are traded clandestinely. Austrian director Florian Flicker means to suggest that we already live walled-off from nature, but his ecological theme is undercut by the grating imagery used to depict the toxic sunlight and by MTV cliches such as a love scene illuminated by a strobe. On the same program, the German short Zita--A Brief Film About Sloth (1998); director Christian Wagner will attend the screening. (FC) (3:15)

The Harmonists

A German vocal sextet--half of it Jews--finds international fame in the 1930s, ignoring the threat posed by Hitler's rise to power. Joseph Vilsmaier directed this 1998 German drama based on a true story; the film will be released commercially this spring, and a documentary on the group, The Comedian Harmonists: Six Life Stories (1976), will be screened at the Film Center later this month. (6:00)

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