:: FRIDAY, APRIL 19 - THURSDAY, APRIL 25 :: — CINEFILE.info (2024)


All screenings below take place at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, except where noted; visit the festival website here for the full schedule and locations where other events may take place

Carlos Caridad Montero’s CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION (Venezuela)
Friday, 5:45pm
The political and economic history of Venezuela in the 20th century is marked by coups, military juntas, dictatorships, enormous prosperity followed by hyperinflation, and, always, protest movements against massive government corruption, mismanagement, and repression. The tumultuous 1980s, which saw the rise of socialist politician Hugo Chávez, is the starting point of Carlos Caridad Montero’s engrossing CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION. The film follows the fortunes of two Caracas families, one headed by a scary revolutionary and diehard supporter of Chávez, the other by a self-absorbed manager in Venezuela’s largest oil company who is firmly against the socialist policies of the Chávez government. These families are linked through the friendship and subsequent romance of Tomás (Mauricio Celimen) and Laura (Naomi De Oliveira), the children born to each family on the same night, as their lives change dramatically with the politics of the time. The street filming is thrilling and atmospheric, locating the economic and social strata in various neighborhoods and the homes in which the families live. The film is fast-paced and can be confusing to anyone not familiar with recent Venezuelan history. But Caridad Montero does such a good job of threading through the privations of food and gas shortages, numerous street protests, and the hardened attitudes of both the Chávistas and the neoliberal opposition that it shocked me into silence at the horrible waste of it all, so invested was I in the fates of the characters his actors brought vividly to life. As Laura says in voiceover near the end of the film, Venezuelans only have the memory of the paradise that they chose to destroy. Caridad Montero scheduled to attend. (2023, 111 min, DCP Digital) [Marilyn Ferdinand]
Lila Penagos’ NOT A BEDTIME STORY (Ecuador)
Friday, 6pm and Sunday, 6:15pm
Through a combination of travelogue, video diary, art project, and interrogation, Lila Penagos pins her father, Carlos, to the operating table to dissect the stories they were told as children and discover what they really meant. In fleeting moments, the mixture of fantasy and reality present in Carlos’ bedtime stories appear on screen in works of shadow puppetry, sculpture, and diorama, resurrecting the past tales that would so enchant his family. But Lila’s film is a chronicle on her terms, with these moments of experimentation spread few and far between what is otherwise a deliberately down-to-earth investigative journey into the darkest parts of Carlos’ life that he’s worked tirelessly at shielding from his children. Recalling his life as a member of a guerilla army fighting against fascist forces in Ecuador, Carlos recalls memories and experiences both joyful and painful, remembering dear friends and loved ones he’s lost over the years. These stories of fantastical happenings that hid his trauma reveal themselves to not only be shields for his family, but for his own sanity as well. Carlos’ storytelling slowly unfurls to reveal the life of a man constantly reinventing himself, trying on many hats, seeing which one will finally fit and make him feel whole again. Preceded by Mateo Vega’s 2023 short film CENTER, RING, MALL (18 min, Digital Projection) from Peru. Penagos scheduled to attend. (2023, 80 min, DCP Digital) [Ben Kaye]
Daniel Peralta’s PRIMERA PERSONA (Chile)
Friday, 8pm
A small, isolated town on the picturesque Pacific Coast of Chile is the setting for director co-screenwriter Daniel Peralta’s contemplative examination of love and loneliness. He juxtaposes two couples, one young and the other middle-age, whose relationships are fraught to suggest that love and its true expression are two separate things. We first meet Isabel (Ignacia Uribe) and Darío (Pedro Godoy) driving to her mother’s beach house. They argue and then have make-up sex when they arrive, something that seems to be an increasingly unsatisfactory routine for them. Through Darío, we learn that cult rock musician Julián Cabeza (Pablo Álvarez), who retreated from making music at least a decade before, lives in town and is going to be interviewed for a music magazine, signaling a renaissance in the musician’s career. We see the younger couple befriend him and Isabel come on to him. But his heart is with his longtime love, Aline (Ana Burgos), who has left him and returned repeatedly for the past 20 years. The push and pull of both relationships are sometimes painful to watch, and we sense that Isabel and Darío are following, so to speak, in Julián and Aline footsteps. Julían finally manages to tell Aline how much he loves her in a new song for the re-release of his first album, a personal work that he nonetheless was too immature to invest with deep feeling. But, Peralta intimates, growing up and into our feelings can come too late. Preceded by Helena Girón and Samuel M. Delgado’s 2023 short film BLOOM (18 min, Digital Projection) from Spain. Peralta scheduled to attend. (2024, 109 min, DCP Digital) [Marilyn Ferdinand]
Martín Duplaquet’s NO ONE (Chile)
Saturday, 4pm
Set in 2006, Martín Duplaquet’s NO ONE takes place amidst a swell of economic prosperity; the country’s GDP grew at an average per capita rate of 4.1% between 1991 and 2005, the world average during that same period being just 1.4%. But rather than focus on the winners, Duplaquet’s films hones in on those who, despite the boom, are still losing. Former banker José (Willy Semler) has lost big on an investment; as a result, he’s separated from his wife, and his brother-in-law, with whom he went in on the investment, hates him. When he accompanies a friend to the bank, however, things take a turn as he discovers an ingenious way to commit a robbery. He enlists the help of two friends, one of them another former banker who’s left the industry after taking a stand against unfair banking practices; soon thereafter a beautiful woman makes her way into the mix and into José’s bed. Together they rob multiple banks in such a subtle way that José starts being referred to in the media as the Ghost. An especially committed detective is hot on his trail, seeming to destroy both himself and his career in the process, and the banks aren’t too keen on continually being humiliated by these silent strikes. The snazzy presentation and convivial performances of this Robin Hood-esque potboiler hold one's interest, even if it’s mostly well-trod territory in the realm of the heist film genre. Setting the story against such a flourishing economy, however, does add in the way of commentary about the neverending pestilence that is capitalism, which haunts us even at its most virile. Duplaquet scheduled to attend. (2023, 110 min, DCP Digital) [Kat Sachs]
George Walker’s THE WOMAN WHO CRIES (Brazil)
Saturday, 6pm
What makes this Brazilian feature so unpredictable is that writer-director George Walker doesn’t fix his gaze on any character in particular. THE WOMAN WHO CRIES centers on a seven-year-old boy named Miguel, though Walker also shifts attention to other members of his family, expanding the film’s perspective so that a group portrait comes into focus. That portrait, when it emerges, turns out to be a pretty sad one: not only are Miguel’s parents divorced, but neither parent seems to care very much about him; they’re too wrapped up in their personal lives to give him much consideration. This neglect has led Miguel to form a strong attachment to his family’s maid, a Venezuelan immigrant who had to abandon her own child to come to Brazil. When the movie begins, he already seems to have a stronger bond with her than he does with his own mother. The film’s title refers to a character in a story the maid makes up to share with Miguel, which speaks to the private world they’ve constructed together. The significance of that private world becomes clearer as the movie proceeds, as Walker reveals the extent of the characters’ loss and disappointment. Even then, the sadness of the film doesn’t feel too pronounced—the tone is generally delicate and muted, reflecting Miguel’s curious view of the world. It’s generally soothing to watch in spite of the melancholy subject matter, which makes it all the more upsetting when Walker disrupts the boy’s story to observe the unhappy adults in his life. Walker scheduled to attend. (2023, 75 min, DCP Digital) [Ben Sachs]
Laura González’s MILONGA (Uruguay/Argentina)
Davis Theatre (4614 N. Lincoln Ave.) – Monday, 6:15pm
Milonga, a term for a Uruguayan style of tango, is an apt name for producer/director/screenwriter Laura González’s first feature film. Tango arose in impoverished communities in part to allow people to express their pain and longing using only the language of movement. Similarly, MILONGA is a film that relies greatly on carefully choreographed actions to tell its painful story. The central protagonist of MILONGA is Rosa (Paulina García), a 60ish woman we first see mailing some personal items—cigarettes, yerba mate, ham, a loaf of bread— to a prison some distance from her home. We next see, in succession, a small, red car pull up at a house, a dog watch it through a window, and a set of security gates open for the car. Rosa has arrived at home. The large house has an expansive garden and an abundance of security measures—high walls and metal shutters and bars fronting its windows and doors. Aside from her dog, Rosa seems to be alone, with not much to do. One day, she runs into Margarita (Laila Reyes Silberberg), a longtime friend who expresses vague condolences. She invites Rosa to a new milonga (dance club), but Rosa demurs and goes home. When next we see Rosa, she is cleaning a truck that belonged to her husband and putting a for-sale sign on it, so we start to believe he’s dead rather than in prison. Through this sale, she meets Juan (César Troncoso), who is new in town and makes a living doing house painting and other odd jobs. She agrees to sell him the truck for under her asking price if he will paint her patio walls green—apparently her favorite color. He plays tango music on the radio as he works. The pieces seem to be falling into place for a romance, but González has a much different agenda. Rosa is a closed-off person and we learn why in a slow, deliberate accumulation of detail, memories, and social interactions. García is in every scene and rises to the challenge of carrying the film with her nuanced, often unexpected performance, but González takes her time revealing all of the characters, giving us a chance to get to know them, compare their personalities, and make sense of some puzzling actions. The film’s serious subject and abrupt ending suggest that a seemingly never-ending cycle of pain cannot resolve in a happy ending, in film or in life. González scheduled to attend. (2023, 102 min, DCP Digital) [Marilyn Ferdinand]
For more information, including a complete schedule, visit the festival website here.

📽️ Crucial Viewing

Pedro Costa’s IN VANDA’S ROOM (Portugal)

Block Cinema (at Northwestern University) – Wednesday, 5:30pm [Free Admission]

IN VANDA’S ROOM is one of the greatest achievements of digital cinema, if not the greatest, as it never could have been made through a traditional, celluloid-based process. Pedro Costa spent about a year shooting it, sans crew, with an inexpensive digital video camera; in doing so, he was able to work at the pace of his performers, grant them more autonomy over the shoot than he would have been able to otherwise. The performers were all residents of the Fontainhas housing project on the outskirts of Lisbon, most of them addicted to heroin and crack cocaine. The film is authentic to their daily lives in that it spends much of the runtime showing them doing drugs, sitting indoors, and talking. It’s a most hermetic work—so hermetic that the subjects almost never comment on the fact that Fontainhas is being torn down all around them and that they’re living increasingly in rubble. Their tunnel vision speaks to the all-consuming nature of both drug addiction and poverty, yet one amazing thing about IN VANDA’S ROOM is how Costa steadfastly refuses to let these things define his subjects. There’s such an extraordinary sense of personhood to every characterization, and this stems not only from the profound intimacy that Costa was able to forge with his participants, but from his unspeakably beautiful photography. Numerous writers have likened Costa’s mastery over light and shadow to Johannes Vermeer’s, and while this effectively conveys what the movie looks like, it also hints at its out-of-time quality. IN VANDA’S ROOM is a uniquely transfixing work; the only points of comparison, really, are Costa’s subsequent masterpieces. Costa in person for a post-screening conversation. (2000, 171 min, Digital Projection) [Ben Sachs]
Costa will also appear in person for a conversation with Melika Bass, Filmmaker and Associate Professor in Film Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, following a screening of CASA DE LAVA (1994, 105 min, DCP Digital) on Thursday, 6pm, at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Charles Chaplin's LIMELIGHT (US)

Music Box Theatre – Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am

“LIMELIGHT, the most emotional of films, is all about the death of emotion,” wrote critic Peter von Bagh in 2002. “When we think of Chaplin’s art of combining the abstract and concrete, the real and surreal, hard fact and dream, the present with the past and the imagined, of the effortless mixing of pantomime, ballet, burlesque, dialogue, and monologue into an indivisible whole, as simple as a moment in nature, we can well sense how far LIMELIGHT is from the ordinary Hollywood fare; it should sooner be placed among films like CITIZEN KANE, IVAN THE TERRIBLE, and Alf Sjoberg’s MISS JULIE. The differences between life and art, the personal and the historical, and so on lose their point.” Set in early 20th-century London, the film stars Chaplin as an alcoholic, past-his-prime music hall comedian named Calvero; this flawed hero finds new reasons for living and making art after he rescues a depressive young ballerina (Claire Bloom) from suicide. All of Chaplin’s films are autobiographical on some level, but that level may be closest to the surface in LIMELIGHT: Chaplin, of course, hailed from London and entered into show business in that city’s music halls in the early 20th century; though not as washed-up as Calvero when the film was made, the actor-writer-director-composer nonetheless was at the nadir of his popularity in the U.S. at the time, attacked in the popular press for scandals in his personal life and vilified by the far right for his left-leaning tendencies. (LIMELIGHT would be the last film he made in America, and its nostalgia for the England of his youth may be read as a veiled statement about his disappointments with his adopted country.) Yet, as von Bagh notes, the film’s autobiographical component represents only one strand of its cumulative power. It is not just Chaplin’s testament to his own art, but to art in general and to the striving for love that brings meaning to any life. Screening as part of the To Avoid Any Misunderstanding: The Other Charles Chaplin series. (1952, 137 min, 35mm) [Ben Sachs]

Yasujiro Ozu's TOKYO STORY (Japan)

Chicago Film Society at Northeastern Illinois University (The Auditorium, Building E 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) – Wednesday, 7:30pm

Yasujiro Ozu's films tend to bring out the inner poet of the critics writing about them, and I suspect it's because his work is as paradoxically straightforward and inexplicable as that very medium. Much like one might read a poem and reflect on its ability to impart awe in such an assuming way, so one watches an Ozu film and feels utterly perplexed by its sublimity. TOKYO STORY is the film that introduced him to American audiences; it's also a prime example of his elegiac approach to filmmaking. Just as in other Ozu films, the plot doesn't matter. Rather, it's the particular societal arrangement and the depth of characterization that gives each film its distinction. TOKYO STORY is about an elderly couple who go to the city to visit their grown children, and, well, as with other Ozu films, that's basically the gist of it. Generational differences between the old, young, and even younger provide most of the 'conflict,' as does the question of place within a family. Setsuko Hara plays Noriko, the wife of the parents' son who died in the war; she remains attached to them even eight years after her husband's death. It's she who bonds with the mother, redeems the father, and departs wisdom on their youngest daughter. (In perhaps one of the most heartbreaking scenes in cinema, the young daughter asks Noriko, "Isn't life disappointing?" Noriko responds, "Yes, it is," with a guileless smile on her face, one that she wears throughout the film until an uncharacteristic breakdown at the end.) The film also embodies Ozu's signature style, which consists of seemingly slow-moving plot and humbly low camera placement. It's widely considered his masterpiece, yet it rejects critical examination. It exists just as his characters do, wholly and unremarkably, and alive in the truest sense of the word. To scrutinize an Ozu film is, like poetry, to vitiate its essence; to ask "why?" is to miss the point completely. Preceded by the trailer for Paul Mazursky's 1974 film HARRY AND TONTO om 35mm. (1953, 136 min, 35mm) [Kat Sachs]

Carrol Ballard’s THE BLACK STALLION (US)

Block Cinema (at Northwestern University) – Friday, 7pm

Few films evoke a sense of wondrous naivete like Carrol Ballard’s THE BLACK STALLION. There’s not a trace of cloying sentimentality or labored earnestness to be found; steeped in the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world, its innocence is that of its surroundings, transcending human guile. I’d never much considered the film, not ever having dreamt of shipwrecks, deserted islands, or wild horses and being well past the age of coming into those interests, but I was nevertheless piqued by Dave Kehr’s Chicago Reader review that he included in his book When Movies Mattered. “At its best,” he writes, “THE BLACK STALLION manages one of the most difficult artistic feats—it rediscovers reality, finding a world apart within our world.” Indeed, it’s a microcosm unto itself, one distinguished by an emphasis on that which is sublime in our natural world, an impression solidified by a first half that’s terrifying and rapturous. Adapted from Walter Farley’s 1941 children’s novel, the film begins on a ship off the coast of North Africa in 1946, where young Alec (Kelly Reno) is exploring while his father engages in a worldy game of poker with every dime-store adventure novel character archetype fathomable; the boy first encounters the titular stallion here, first scared of its intensity and then extending a gesture of kindness in bringing it some sugar cubes. Among his father’s winnings is a small metal horse figurine—the horse is Bucephalus, given to Alexander the Great by his father when the former was able to tame the defiant creature. Alec’s world is thrown into turmoil after the ship sinks, stranding only him and the black stallion on a remote island. That this section composes almost entirely the first half of the film allegedly led a studio executive to refer to it as being an “art film for kids,” free as it is of much dialogue; it traverses Alec’s grief over his situation, his newfound struggle for survival, and his growing relationship with the stallion, which he calls The Black and to whom he owes his survival. Their burgeoning friendship reaches its apex when the stallion finally allows Alec to ride him, a sign not of having been “broken” but rather a genuine connection forged based on affection and trust. Alec is rescued and, delivered back to his safer albeit less exciting midwest domain (where his mother, played by Teri Garr, welcomes him and the horse with open, if incredulous, arms) with The Black in tow, combats his relative boredom now offered by his creature comforts by pursuing the horse’s racing potential. Mickey Rooney plays a retired jockey and horse trainer whose interest is piqued by the duo, taking Alec under his wing and eventually becoming invested in The Black competing in a race against the reigning champions, reminiscent of the 1938 showdown between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. An atmosphere of serendipity pervades the story: what are the chances that only Alec and The Black should survive? How likely is it that a horse racing expert lives in the same small midwestern town, whose farm the stallion at one point runs away to? Would a child be permitted to ride a wild horse in a race seemingly thrown together at the last minute where no one questions the legitimacy of the animal or its rider? With a great film the who, where, what, why and even the how won’t matter; it simply is, no further explanations required. As majestic as the titular eidolon is Caleb Deschanel’s evocative cinematography; the images tell the story as much as anything else, enforcing an abstract narrative that doesn’t dwell too much on plot. The film has also been lauded for its sound design, led by Alan Splet, with his wife, Ann Kroeber, assisting in the recording of horses at Walter Murch’s farm. (The film was produced by Francis Ford Coppola, for whom Murch himself had provided legendary sound work on THE GODFATHER movies, THE CONVERSATION, and APOCALYPSE NOW.) It’s a visually and sonically immersive experience, a feast for the eyes and ears as much as it is for the soul. Introduced by Jacob Smith, Professor, Sound Arts and Industries, Northwestern University. (1979, 118 min, DCP Digital) [Kat Sachs]

Jack Smith's FLAMING CREATURES (US/Experimental)

Doc Films (at the University of Chicago) – Thursday, 9:30pm

Part of the New American Cinema group in New York City during the ‘60s, Jack Smith's flamboyant aesthetic can be characterized by a mix of baroque exoticism, gaudy costumes, and detritus salvaged from the city streets. FLAMING CREATURES is a non-narrative, Dionysian orgy, complete with wild dancing, gender bending, and a climactic earthquake. The carnivalesque madness of the film is reinforced by the chaotic density of its formal composition. Smith's deliberate spatial disorientation creates a pansexual landscape of tangled body parts; just as the viewer is unable to situate the visual coordinates of the image, the creatures are unaware of which extremity belongs to whom. FLAMING CREATURES attacks phallocentric rationality by dispensing with conventional elements like plot and spatial orientation, but also by repurposing pop iconography for a queer agenda. Not only does the film satirize Hollywood, it reveals an androgynous, hom*oerotic subtext lurking underneath its surface. Smith's use of dated film stock lends the image a washed-out quality, which gives the viewer the impression that they're watching long lost outtakes of an aborted low-budget experiment. Preceded by José Rodriguez-Soltero’s 1966 film LUPE (43 min, 16mm). (1963, 43 min, 16mm) [Harrison Sherrod]

Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's 5 BROKEN CAMERAS (Palestine/Documentary)

Doc Films (at the University of Chicago) – Wednesday, 7pm

This collaboration between Palestinian farmer turned video journalist Emad Burnat and Israeli documentarian Guy Davidi is a powerful, straightforward piece of agit-prop filmmaking about the encroachment of the West Bank Wall into the Palestinian village of Bil'in and the protest movement that sprung up in response. Burnat initially buys a camera to document the early childhood of his youngest son, but as things escalate in Bil'in and clashes with the Israeli military become a daily occurrence, he turns into the de-facto chronicler of the resistance. Burnat's footage gives us an incredible insider's view into the workings of a grassroots protest movement from its inception to its (partial) victory. "When I film I feel like the camera protects me..." Burnat narrates as he films his brother being carted away in an army vehicle, "but it is an illusion." And indeed, during the five years in which he follows the protests, Burnat's illusion is smashed: he endures beatings, arrests, bullets, and the death of friends. As the title suggests, Burnat's cameras take a beating as well and the filmmakers have chosen to use the camera casualties as a structuring principle for the documentary. This conceit ends up distracting a little from the heart of the story, and there are some other aesthetic missteps as well--in particular, the narration can sometimes veer into cliché. Ultimately though, as a political tool and a portrait of a village joining together in the face of occupation, 5 BROKEN CAMERAS is extremely effective. Preceded by Rosalind Nashashibi's 2015 short film ELECTRIC GAZA (18 min, 35mm). (2011, 90 min, DCP Digital) [Mojo Lorwin]

Chicago Palestine Film Festival

Gene Siskel Film Center – See below for showtimes

Erin Axelman and Sam Eilersten’s ISRAELISM (US/Documentary)
Sunday, 1pm
For a not-insignificant portion of the American Jewish population, just reading the logline for the activist documentary ISRAELISM is enough to lose one’s interest entirely. That refusal to even broach this specific conversation—that of the inextricable relationship between American Judaism and the State of Israel—is likely part of Erin Axelman and Sam Eilersten’s impetus to make this cinematic plea for empathy and self-interrogation. The film carries us through the traditional path of learning that young Jews receive in the States, where one’s Judaism is tied, part and parcel, to the safety and well-being of Israel, whose conflict with the local Palestinians is presented in as simple and binary terms as possible while any conflict is hidden under the neat and tidy umbrella of “it’s complicated.” Any discussions of the Nakba (the 1948 expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes) are omitted entirely, and the state of perpetual violent surveillance perpetrated by the Israeli Defense Force on a daily basis in the West Bank is cushioned in language of “protection” and “terrorist suppression.” If ISRAELISM’s scope is limited, it has to be by design, focusing its energies primarily on the deprogramming that this current generation of American Jews is going through amidst a world where ignoring the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people is becoming less of a viable option. Through personal stories of former IDF soldiers, Jews grappling with their own place within a religion finding its place outside of its relationship to a far-away country, and even members of inherently pro-Zionist organizations, Axelman and Eilersten’s film succeeds in its emotionality and passion where it often falters in crafting anything excitingly cinematic. For many an American Jew who gets the chance to watch this, they just might find some kinship and hope in a work exploring how the future of one’s faith is not dependent on the subjugation of others, and how Judaism can only move forward as a religion, and as a culture, in solidarity with all around us. Preceded by Zayd Lahham’s 2023 short film JABAL (21 min, Digital Projection). PLEASE NOTE: This screening is sold out. (2023, 84 mins, DCP Digital) [Ben Kaye]
Sarah Beddington’s FADIA’S TREE (UK/Documentary)
Wednesday, 6pm
A documentary about the forced displacement of Palestinians and also, kind of, about bird migration. A road movie of sorts, a journey made on someone else’s behalf. A love letter to a place, memories, and the power of friendship in an unrelenting world. English filmmaker Sarah Beddington’s FADIA’S TREE is all of that and more, the bearer of many descriptions yet transcending them all to be something singular and poignant. Beddington met the film’s subject, Fadia, in a cafe in Lebanon, where the latter lives in a camp as a Palestinian refugee. She asked Beddington if she was happy, an unusual introduction that began an unusual friendship in the most magical way. Across a 15-year period, Beddington and Fadia discussed a mulberry tree in the former Palestinian village of Sa’sa, where her family had lived. The tree as a symbol lends itself to many interpretations; in this case its strong roots tether Fadia and her family to the region even as they’ve been displaced for several generations. The tree is also a symbol of life and hope, as Fadia wishes to one day see the tree herself. Beddington documents two trips to Sa’sa. In the first she’s unable to find the tree. Narratively this initial lack of closure provides space for her to explore another thread pertaining to bird migration. At the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, a researcher notes that tagging the birds for tracking purposes becomes an issue on the ground where it wasn’t on the sky, as once they’re caught they become either Israeli or Palestinian birds. Neither ornithologists (one of whom Beddington had met on a train, another fortuitous encounter) nor aviary enthusiasts seem to care where the birds are coming from, where they are when they encounter them, or where they’re going; they symbolize a borderless existence to which humans are not entitled. Beddington deals in simple yet poetic allusions, natural even if commonplace. That may even add to it, as most humans can relate to the desire for roots and freedom, both of which the tree represents. Eventually on another trip Beddington finds the tree, and we share in her experience of relating this to Fadia, who revels in the memories evoked and the friendship on display. Overall this is not a typical straightforward documentary, with experimental aesthetics that at times recall Chantal Akerman’s later non-fiction work, specifically DOWN THERE. It’s a simple ode to a complex issue, with the poetry of life taking the place of pain. Preceded by Yousef Salhi’s 2023 short film FOREVER KHALID (9 min, Digital Projection) and Majdi El Omari’s 2023 short film MAR MAMA (16 min, Digital Projection). (2022, 82 min, DCP Digital) [Kat Sachs]
Festival schedule and additional info here.



Music Box Theatre – Monday, 7pm

Set in 2008, directly against the financial crisis and the presidential election, KILLING THEM SOFTLY combines familiar mafia movie tropes with some truly desperate characters and cityscapes. It’s sweaty and intense, a film that is constantly dancing on the edge of violence and mayhem. A follow up to his 2007 film THE ASSASSINATION JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, KILLING THEM SOFTLY acts at times more like a Western than a traditional crime film. Despite being set in the city, it expresses a wildness in the characters' behavior and the abandoned settings they navigate; the cinematography was done by Greig Fraser, whose most recent work is Denis Villeneuve visually arresting DUNE series. Dominik also continues from the previous film his examination of the dangers and pitfalls of the American dream vis a vis American masculinity—in this case a direct connection to an economic and systemic breakdown. Mostly just mentioned in misogynistic anecdotes, KILLING THEM SOFTLY is purposely devoid of any major women characters. A conspicuous omission that highlights the noxiousness of the proceedings, it also suggests the characters’ deeply held insecurities and anxieties about sex and women. Hired to rob a poker game run by mob boss Markie (Ray Liotta), two amateur criminals (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelson) find themselves in way over their heads. The robbery is successful, but the incident sends waves through the local crime ring, and hitmen including Jackie (Brad Pitt) and Mickey (James Gandolfini) are called in to manage the situation. The cast overall is stellar, including Richard Jenkins and Sam Shepard. Dominik’s script is heavy with exposition and character names—with tangents and flashbacks—but structured in its depiction of disarray. KILLING THEM SOFTLY drives a growing sense of desperation transforming into apathy, which especially in the film's final biting moments, feels more dangerous than anything. (2012, 97 min, 35mm) [Megan Fariello]

Yasujiro Ozu's DRAGNET GIRL (Japan/Silent)

Doc Films (at the University of Chicago) – Thursday, 7pm

A record shop decorated with porcelain dogs; in the listening booth, a dapper young man mechanically smokes a cigarette. A row of typists in soft focus. A clock strikes on the wall, a fedora falls from the hat rack onto the floor. A cramped gym full of amateur boxers. A beautiful woman takes a revolver out of her coat pocket. A dingy room illuminated by a single light bulb. DRAGNET GIRL is always a discovery: for those familiar with his Ozu's work, it's like a secret code, a confirmation of what they'd previously only suspected about the director; for first-timers, it's a dream life, a reminder that there's no such thing as a silent image. Every vivid shot in DRAGNET GIRL makes an accompanying sound seem superfluous—who needs Foley effects when we can already see the floorboards creaking, the fists thudding, the billiard balls clicking against each other? Who needs voices when you have faces like these? And when you can feel the sweat cooling on your neck, smell the spilled alcohol and tipped-over ashtrays, feel the sticky and dusty surfaces of tabletops. Amongst all this, a girl tries to get her crooked boyfriend to go straight. This is the most unfairly neglected of Ozu's pre-war films; its place in the director's filmography is the stuff of a much longer and more complicated piece of writing. A crime film that, like Jean Renoir's equally neglected NIGHT AT THE CROSSROADS and Louis Feuillade's serials, turns the audience into detectives through the tactile mystery of its images. Screening as part of the series Kinuyo Tanaka, Actress and Auteur. (1933, 100 min, DCP Digital) [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Julio Torres' PROBLEMISTA (US)

FACETS Cinema – Thursday, 7pm

Written by, directed by, and starring Julio Torres, PROBLEMISTA is an enchanting little treat of a film. Torres plays Alejandro Martinez, an immigrant from El Salvador who dreams of making quirky introspective toys for Hasbro that offer social commentary. In a desperate need to sponsorship for his visa, Torres has to do unbearable gig work to follow his dreams. One of these jobs is working for a company that cryogenically freezes people. He's put in charge of monitoring the body of Bobby (played wonderfully in flashbacks by RZA), an incredibly earnest artist who paints what can only be described as what look like dumb Magrittes—​if Magritte painted only eggs. When Alejandro screws up at the job and gets fired, he winds up working for Bobby's wife, Elizabeth, a completely insufferable and stereotypical New York artist. The two work together to get a gallery showing of Bobby's egg paintings in order to sell them for continued payment on Bobby's frozen body. It's utterly ridiculous. And nothing but a joy. PROBLEMISTA plays with surrealism like soft, warm clay. Everything is real and non-real here. Like a Latin American magical realist novel brought to life, every metaphor is visualized. Thought processes and interactions are romanticized or catastrophized and brought to the screen in dreamlike vignettes. When Torres confronts Swinton, he appears as a knight fighting a hydra. Craigslist is a villainous vaporwave glitchart echo of Ursula from THE LITTLE MERMAID. The woman on the other end of phone at the call center for Bank of America pledges her allegiance to the bank before shooting Torres due to overdraft fees. It's all a bit of silly fun. Twee but never saccharine. The only film in recent memory I can compare PROBLEMISTA to would be Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney's soft-dystopian STRAWBERRY MANSION (2021), both with their Wes Anderson-as-Max Fischer-esque sets and object designs and their gentle takes on the soulless grind of last-stage capitalism. The only problem with PROBLEMISTA is that it slightly suffers from classic concern of the auteur—​that their first film maybe very well be their last. While all the ideas Torres plays with are executed well, there's just... a lot of them. Maybe too many. Little visual ideas that could be revisited for comedic or sentimental effect aren't because a new one needs to be introduced. As a long-time fan of Torres, following his career from the shockingly influential cult public access turned cable TV show The Chris Gethard Show through his infuriatingly canceled TV show Los Espookys to this, I've yet to get anywhere near tired of his ideas and visuals—​but I don't need, or particularly want, so many all at once. I suppose saying that there is a bit too much creativity in a film is a strange jab, but there can be too much of a good thing. This is an art film that is trying its hardest not to be one because it's a film about art and artists itself. So instead, it floats in the incredibly specific, weird liminal space of between My-First-Quirky-Indie-Movie gateway film for budding cinephiles and a high-minded and arch surrealistic piss-take on the art world—​all while being pure entertainment. An incredibly auspicious debut feature, I can only hope that enough other people find the joy in PROBLEMISTA and its contagious rewatchability so that Torres gets money to make more films. (2023, 98 min, DCP Digital) [Raphael Jose Martinez]

Hayao Miyazki’s LUPIN III: THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO (Japan/Animation)

Doc Films (at the University of Chicago) – Sunday, 4pm

A bare synopsis of THThe first theatrical feature for which the great Hayao Miyazaki received directorial credit, THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO grew out of Miyazaki’s work on the Lupin III TV series (1971-72), an animated spin-off of Monkey Punch’s hugely popular manga series, which in turn was inspired by the Arsène Lupin stories by French author Maurice Leblanc. Given how far into global popular culture the film’s roots extend, it’s remarkable how much it feels like a Miyazaki work proper. The glorious set pieces demonstrate the director’s distinctive talents for building and sustaining suspense (tellingly, Steven Spielberg has long expressed admiration for them), while the winning humor reflects his good-natured humanism. In fact, Miyazaki received some flak for softening the edges on the character of career thief Arsène Lupin, who was typically portrayed as a cynical rogue but in this film emerges as a rake with a heart of gold. Yet the focus of CAGLIOSTRO isn’t really on Lupin (or Wolf, as he’s called here), but rather on the intricate settings and narrative twists, which conjure up an imaginary version of Europe to get lost in. Western culture is full of fantastical visions of the East; Miyazaki’s fantastical visions of the West (which arguably reach their apotheosis in HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE) provide fascinating counterparts to the Orientalist tradition. CAGLIOSTRO begins in medias res, as Lupin and his sidekick flee a casino on the Riviera in a car full of stolen money, the police following closely behind. During a rousing chase along mountain roads, the hero realizes the stolen money is counterfeit. He deduces that the phony bills were made in the small, fictional country of Cagliostro, then decides to head there and take advantage of the counterfeit printing presses. Lupin’s travels lead him to the title location, an immaculately designed fortress on the water marked by towering edifices, narrow spires, and lots of secret passages. Once inside, he encounters a princess who’s being forced to marry a devious count (one of the few purely evil characters in Miyazaki’s filmography); this news awakens the chivalrous hero in Lupin, and he plots to stop the wedding while seeking the castle’s fabled treasure. Naturally, he succeeds on both counts, but as Miyazaki has shown throughout his career, great storytelling has little to do with whether the outcome is surprising and much more to do with the emotional significance granted to every object, complication, and bit of characterization. (1979, 102 min, DCP Digital) [Ben Sachs]

Henry Hanson's DOG MOVIE (US)

Gene Siskel Film Center – Monday, 8pm

As someone who has both been both The Person On The Couch and the benevolent Granter Of The Couch in queer/punk spaces, an entire film centered around the unspoken, and unbearable, tension between that group housing yin and yang is far too relatable. When a queer couple, desperate to never possibly hurt anyone's feelings under any circ*mstances, adopt an elderly dog that happens to have the same name as their long-term couch-surfing friend, long simmering tensions start to come out. Shot entirely on a consumer camcorder, with a crew of two (director Henry Hanson and a location sound person), and utilizing non-professional actors improvising their dialogue, it would be easy to label this a mumblecore film. But that would be both reductive, dismissive, and wrong. Drawing from some of the same inspirations as that movement (namely Dogme95), DOG MOVIE seems to take equally from the trend of filmed improv in comedies (the films of Christopher Guest, the TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm). Hanson has made a kind, spirited comedy about some equally tender and obnoxious characters whose inability to speak directly with each other creates the type of atmosphere that we English speakers don't have a word for. Thankfully the Swedes do: Skamskudde. That one word describes the feeling you get when you watch something on film or TV that gives you such a feeling of secondhand embarrassment that you want to hide your face in a pillow. It's such an amazing word, and this is the first time I've found something that wholly embraces it. f*ck mumblecore, this is skamskuddecore. There's a fun energy that DOG MOVIE brings that helps you tolerate a level of inter-friend stress that could make this a horror film for the socially introverted. Sidestepping the navel gazing tendency of indie films that feel like a bunch of friends just getting together to make a movie one weekend, Hanson lets us know that he's in on the joke. When we see someone in bed reading a copy of the lefty queer beloved/reviled Conflict Is Not Abuse while trying to come up with the most tender way to kick some off the couch for good, there's no doubt to the satirical bite at play. A thoroughly enjoyable movie that, more importantly, feels like it could inspire similar films in its wake, DOG MOVIE, in the best possible way, is the kind of movie you see and think to yourself, "I could probably do that." And I really hope people do. The world needs more skamskudde queer cinema... but, like, not if it's going to displace other people's experiences because those are valid too, unless they're not respecting other... actually, maybe we should put a pin in this and come back to it later. Hanson in person. (2024, 51 min, DCP Digital) [Raphael Jose Martinez]

Paul Thomas Anderson's INHERENT VICE (US)

Alamo Drafthouse – Saturday, 4:20pm

No bones about it: INHERENT VICE is one divisive movie. Going by the annotated ballots of anonymous Academy Awards voters published by The Hollywood Reporter, INHERENT VICE was the worst movie of the 2014, or maybe just the most arrogant: an object of grand-standing, head-scratching mediocrity, like some chuckling, elitist finger poking you in the cornea. Meanwhile, VICE's champions have largely described it as a laugh-a-minute ride, the best head picture since HEAD, prophesying an imminent critical rehabilitation along the casual light-up lines of THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Uh-huh. I admire the acid sunshine optimism of the VICE Squad, but the thing that makes this movie distinctive is its melancholy, earnest and earned. Set in the fictional enclave of Gordita Beach, INHERENT VICE excavates a historicized ennui that's disarmingly real, namely the morning-after realization that the '60s were only a mirage, or perhaps a conspiratorial diversion. Say it ain't so, Country Joe. As Joanna Newsom's Sortilège speculates in a voice-over midway through the film, "Was it possible that at every gathering, concert, peace rally, love-in, be-in, freak-in, here up north, back east, whereever, some dark crews had been busy all along reclaiming the music, the resistance to power, the sexual desire from epic to everyday?" That hippie sh*t could be tolerated up to a point--until Straight America asserted its natural will to power. But VICE isn't quite a nostalgic wail for freakdom's last stand--it's a memory-film of a finer, more obtuse pedigree. Like Terence Davies' DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES, it's essentially a speculative conjecture about the shape of the world just prior to its author's birth. (Writer-director Anderson was born in 1970, the unrecoverable, present-tense moment of VICE.) How did we get here?, this movie fruitlessly, savagely asks, knowing full well that the answer might kill us. We move through a druggy stupor, characters coming and going, plotlines maddeningly opaque, nearly every shot a dawdling close-up. It's a total conjuring, a seance with spirits not yet dead. (2014, 148 min, DCP Digital) [K.A. Westphal]

Krzysztof Kieslowski's THREE COLORS: WHITE (France/Poland)

Alamo Drafthouse – Sunday, 12pm and Tuesday, 3:30pm

The second installment in the Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy takes a lighter tone than the first and third. Following Karol Karol (a bumbling Zbigniew Zamachowski) as he seeks the love and then the downfall of his ex-wife (Julie Delpy), the Polish filmmaker crafts an anti-romance, a series of convoluted situations that aren’t actually that funny. He doesn’t intend to play these moments for laughs, but rather gives the audience a straight-laced version of a dark, absurdist comedy. Though WHITE has become the most forgotten of the trilogy, it lands its affecting blows near the end of the story, never opting for cheap twists or decisions that run contrary to the behavior of its central character. Zamachowski gives a slight performance as Karol, a man destined to lose even as he’s winning, and Delpy fills in the gaps in her limited screen time, always a welcome presence in any movie. But this film is a chance for Kieslowski to once again prove his ability to contort expectations and offer up something new in a vein that many of us can recognize. In WHITE, he’s reshaping our idea of the romantic comedy, putting forward a portrayal of love that’s far different than what was common in hits of the 1990s. WHITE isn’t the funniest film, or the gushiest, but it still has heart and appeal, even in a drab color palette and a disheartening story about the power and perils of love. (1994, 91 min, DCP Digital) [Michael Frank]

Norman Jewison's MOONSTRUCK (US)

Davis Theater – Saturday, 3:15pm and 7pm

Norman Jewison’s MOONSTRUCK remains a great romantic comedy not just because it’s a meditation on falling in love, but because it examines falling out of it, too. The Brooklyn-set film presents different stages of relationships; the characters navigate new and old love, as well as jealousy, apathy, loss, and accepting happiness even if it’s not guaranteed to last forever. Feeling as if she’s cursed with bad luck after the death of her husband, Loretta (Cher, in her best performance) agrees out of practicality to marry her addled boyfriend Johnny (Danny Aiello). Right after he proposes marriage, Johnny leaves for Italy to be with his dying mother but asks Loretta to reach out while he's away to his estranged younger brother, Ronny (a wildly charismatic Nicolas Cage), and invite him to the wedding. Everything changes when Loretta and Ronny fall madly in love. The script, by John Patrick Stanley, is nearly flawless, with wall-to-wall memorable one-liners (“Snap out of it!”) and hilarious, emotional monologues delivered. In addition to inspiring excellent main performances, the script fully realizes every character. The subplot about Loretta’s parents’ flagging marriage (played extraordinarily by Vincent Gardenia and Olympia Dukakis) stands out, but smaller side stories—like the one about Ronny's bakery coworker Chrissy (Nada Despotovich) being hopelessly in love with him—are also poignant. MOONSTRUCK consistently shows that even the most minor characters have their own worthwhile stories about love and heartbreak. Followed by a Q&A with Zach Schonfeld, author of How Coppola Became Cage, as well as Keith Phipps, author of Age of Cage, plus a book signing! Screening as part of the Uncaged – The Best of Nicolas Cage series. (1987, 102 min, DCP Digital) [Megan Fariello]

David Lynch's WILD AT HEART (US)

Davis Theater - Sunday, 3:45pm and 7pm

Films of the “lovers on the run” subgenre are sexual, dark, and exude a melodramatic dreaminess. They often, too, thematically address complications of Americana and nostalgia. With continual references to THE WIZARD OF OZ, WILD AT HEART explores themes of home that are found throughout David Lynch's work; while his more recent Twin Peaks: The Return is all about how it’s impossible to go home again, WILD AT HEART is ultimately about the dream beyond the rainbow. After getting out of prison for murder, Elvis-obsessed Sailor (Nicolas Cage) and his girlfriend Lula (a transcendent Laura Dern) run away to California, telling each other stories of their pasts along the way. Unbeknownst to them, they’re pursued by Lula’s mother (a fabulously unhinged Diane Ladd), who hires hitmen to kill Sailor. Filled with surreal vignettes and characters, WILD AT HEART is dynamic and strange, sordid and ethereal. At one point Lula and Sailor pull over to dance on the side of the road to heavy metal; it’s as if the film, too, needs to shake off some irrepressible energy. Scenes like these are paired with quiet moments of horror—namely, the scene where Willem Defoe’s character aggressively corners Lula in a motel is one of the most upsetting in cinema; Laura Dern portrays Lula’s reaction with heartbreaking authenticity. But the most affecting scene is where Lula and Sailor find a woman (Sherilyn Fenn) injured in a car accident on the side of the road. These kinds of emotionally driven images of violence and trauma experienced by women would be more fully addressed in his film TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, released just a few years later. (1990, 124 min, DCP Digital) [Megan Fariello]

Paul Schrader's FIRST REFORMED (US)

Gene Siskel Film Center – Tuesday, 6pm

Paul Schrader’s angry, austere new film stars Ethan Hawke as Ernst Toller, a tormented priest grappling with personal and ecological apocalypse. A pregnant parishioner offers Toller a chance at salvation, but forces him to confront the slow suicide that has been his life in the aftermath of a personal tragedy. Watching the movie I kept thinking of Robert Bresson's DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST and Schrader's own original screenplay for TAXI DRIVER. I have little use for religion in my everyday life but there is no way around the fact that a lot of my favorite art is consumed with faith. Schrader's belief feels genuine so I can accept it without having to buy into it for myself. The thing that sets this story apart from much of Schrader’s prior work is an acknowledgement of shades of grey, in place of his usual moral absolutism. That nuance is personified in the pastor of a megachurch (a perfectly cast Cedric The Entertainer), who might have logically been the heavy here, but is instead presented as a fully dimensional, flawed but earnest, and responsible community leader. The hopeless, fanatical, often sin-filled and ugly longing for grace and meaning that has always been Schrader’s calling card is on full display, but the resolution he leaves viewers with offers some newly-found hope. Toller has a lot of Travis Bickle in him but manages to walk himself back from the annihilation fantasy that haunts them both. Screening as part of Shawn Michelle Smith and Oliver Sann’s Cli-Fi lecture series. (2017, 113 min, DCP Digital) [Dmitry Samarov]

Valentyn Vasyanovych's ATLANTIS (Ukraine)

Doc Films (at the University of Chicago) – Saturday, 4pm

Every now and again a film appears that gets compared to Andrei Tarkovsky’s classic STALKER. More often than not the comparisons are facile at best, using only the basic plot points as comparison—think 2018’s ANNIHILATION. But Valentyn Vasyanovych’s ATLANTIS falls so precisely into that slow cinema sci-fi micro-genre that it feels like it could be taking place in the same universe as STALKER. ATLANTIS is set in a near future Ukraine of 2025, where, after a prolonged war with Russia, the country, and its people, have been devastated. Serhiy is a former soldier with PTSD who loses his job as a smelter when the local works is closed due to automation. The world he once knew is so far in the past that it’s almost unrecognizable. Water now has to be shipped in. A giant wall is being built along the border. As he tries to cope with this new normal, Serhiy takes on a job exhuming corpses. Here he meets Katya, one of the rare individuals who can see past the immediate. Serhiy’s world in ATLANTIS has the same kind of meditative expanse as Tarkovsky’s STALKER and Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky’s WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES. It’s a sci-fi film only in that it presumes a near future; it could very well be in a contemporary setting—I can think of at least one American city that has lost its metalwork economy and requires bused-in drinking water. ATLANTIS has a poetic ugliness to it that is an absolute joy to revel in. The psychic devastation of a post-war society, resigned into submission of duty, is rendered nearly physical as we watch the quietly mundane pace of people’s lives. With nearly nothing left, the past literally becomes the future: the exhuming and examining of the dead has become one of the only reliable means of employment. Filmed with nearly all wide-angle stationary shots, the film immerses us as voyeurs in this world. We have no choice but to examine everything, including ourselves. Vasyanovych’s framing both creates a sense of claustrophobia with its tight borders and a pronounced sense of agoraphobia, from an inescapable emptiness that threatens to go on forever. Despite its darkness, ATLANTIS is a gorgeous film, and a must see for anyone interested in slow cinema, speculative sci-fi, or explorations of existentialism. Screening as part of the New Releases (+More) series. (2019, 106 min, DCP Digital) [Raphael Jose Martinez]

Bertrand Bonello’s THE BEAST (France/Canada)

Music Box Theatre – See Venue website for showtimes

The closest precedent to THE BEAST may be Léos Carax’s POLA X (1999), another eerie communion between a cryptic American author and an equally cryptic French filmmaker working more than a century apart. In POLA X, Carax transposed Herman Melville’s novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities from mid-19th century America to late 20th century France, keeping the basic narrative structure but mostly using the text as a talisman to guide his film towards novel insights about privilege, doomed love, and the nature of art. In THE BEAST, Bonello takes the basic premise of a Henry James story called “The Beast in the Jungle” and uses it as a jumping-off point for a fragmented, time-hopping narrative experiment on themes of identity, performance, and the fear of love. Both films approach adaptation as a form of conversation, proposing cinematic analogues for what Melville and James did and considering what these visionary authors might have to tell us about our own time. Bonello seems especially well suited to take on James; like the author of The Turn of the Screw and The Sacred Fount, this French auteur specializes in narratives that are ornate, inscrutable, and frequently spooky. But where James famously subverted psychological realism by refusing to provide explanations for his characters’ behavior, Bonello is more interested in subverting expectations of cinema’s relationship to history, defamiliarizing our sense of both the past and the present. His period pieces HOUSE OF PLEASURES (2011) and SAINT LAURENT (2014) took place in such hermetic environments that they seemed to be playing out on space stations, while his contemporary films like NOCTURAMA (2016) and ZOMBI CHILD (2019) incorporate so many allusions to cultural traditions and past works of art they make the present seem forbidding in its own right. Alternating between stories set in 1910, 2014, and 2044, THE BEAST builds on Bonello’s characteristically alienating portraits of the past and the present by adding a healthy dose of future shock. The 2044 narrative concerns a woman named Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux) who undergoes a process that will erase her DNA of any negative memories of her past lives, which include being a concert pianist in early 20th century Paris and being an aspiring actress in Obama-era Los Angeles. In Bonello’s chilling vision of the future, AI technology has replaced people in the majority of jobs and much of humanity has been deemed useless; his visions of the recent and less-recent past are no more inviting. As in much of James’ writing, there’s always something in THE BEAST to keep the audience at arm’s length from what the work is about. That distance seems purposeful here—it must be closed with creativity and emotional intuition. (2023, 146 min, DCP Digital) [Ben Sachs]

Alice Rohrwacher’s LA CHIMERA (Italy/France/Switzerland)

Music Box Theatre – See Venue website for showtimes

For Arthur, there’s little that separates the living from the dead. Played by a steely, towering Josh O’Connor, most often seen sidling through scenes donning a detritus-laden white linen suit, he spends his days wandering about with his merry band of "tombaroli," pilfering the tombs hidden beneath their feet across Italy, raiding a myriad of resting places for long-lost Etruscan treasures that, in their eyes, aren’t doing the dead any good just sitting about. Arthur’s mind wanders about, too, to his long-lost love Beniamina, a figure seen in flickers, dreamlike, perhaps also sitting in that nebulous zone between what we know is gone but what we wish was still here. Indeed, our first glimpse of Arthur is of him riding a train back home after the end of his prison sentence, his own resurrection back into the land of the "living." Alice Rohrwacher’s film tends to navigate various planes of existence, often changing aspect ratios, film stocks, even genres; the story curves through tropes found in heist thrillers, comedies, and romances, employing techniques found within the realms of silent film, experimental essay, and documentary filmmaking. Her collage of storytelling ends up falling somewhere—​spiritually and thematically—​between a fairy tale and a ghost story, weighing the love of the present with the love of that which is long past, of building your life in deference to death, of weighing one’s soul against the thrill of unearthing objects not meant for human eyes. Arthur himself is gifted with an otherworldly spirit of divining, of knowing in his very soul where these underground treasures lie, with Rohrwacher’s camera literally performing revolutions to find Arthur in another visual plane, familiar yet upside-down. What a gift to find a film so brimming with passion, humor, and otherworldly desire brimming from every frame for those curious enough to pull on the threads Rohrwacher leaves lying before us. Perhaps a glimmer of light will shine through after all that digging. (2023, 130 min, DCP Digital) [Ben Kaye]


Asian Pop-Up Cinema
The extensive and inimitable Asian Pop-Up Cinema series continu+es its eighteenth season. Their in-person and virtual offerings are too many to list; visit here for more information.

Chicago Film Archives
The Chicago Transit Authority, in partnership with the Chicago Film Archives (CFA), presents a new, one-of-a-kind temporary art installation at the Cicero Green Line station (4800 W. Lake St.). The installation, called we love, is a filmic exhibition of home movies and amateur films selected from collections housed and preserved at CFA. The video will be projected onto a wall in the mezzanine area of the station and will run day and night through March 15, 2026. More info here.

Chicago Public Library
View all screenings taking place at Chicago Public Library branches here.

CineYouth Festival
In-person screenings and events for the CineYouth Festival take place through Sunday at FACETS Cinema. A selection of the festival’s programs will be available to stream on the Chicago International Film Festival streaming platform from Monday at noon to Sunday, April 28 at midnight unless otherwise noted on the program’s webpage. More info here.

Davis Theater
Spike Jonze’s 2002 film ADAPTATION (115 min, DCP Digital) screens Wednesday at 7pm, and Robert Bierman’s 1988 film VAMPIRE’S KISS (103 min, DCP Digital) screens Thursday at 7pm, as part of the series Uncaged – The Best of Nicolas Cage. More information about all screenings here.

Doc Films (at the University of Chicago)
A 2016 episode of Joe Swanberg’s Netflix show Easy, titled “Art and Life,” screens Friday at 7pm. This is a Night Owls screening with U of C professor Agnes Callard and Swanberg in person.

Lars Von Trier’s 1996 film BREAKING THE WAVES (159 min, 35mm) screens Saturday at 7pm.

Louis J. Gasnier’s 1936 film REEFER MADNESS (68 min, 16mm) screens Saturday at 9:30 in celebration of the holiday. ;)

James Benning’s 2002 film SOGOBI (87 min, 16mm) screens Sunday at 8pm as part of the series, An Artist of Intimate Intent: James Benning.

William Klein’s 1966 film WHO ARE YOU, POLLY MAGGOO? (101 min, Digital Projection) screens Tuesday, 7pm, as part of the Americans in Paris: After the Dance series. More info on all screenings and events here.

Full Spectrum Features presents CAFE FOCUS, a monthly coworking pop-up for Chicago filmmakers and film workers, in the FACETS Lounge on Sunday starting at 1pm.

Open Space Arts/Pride Film Fest presents Reem Morsi’s 2023 Canadian film QUEEN TUT (100 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 7pm.

The Sweet Void Delights: Shorts Film Program takes place Thursday, 9pm, following FACETS Film Trivia in the FACETS Lounge, hosted by critic, programmer and Cine-File contributor Raphael Jose Martinez. More info on all screenings and events here.

Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago
The Resurrecting Guerrilla Television: The Revolutions of Early Independent Video symposium takes place through Sunday in Cobb Hall 307 (5811 S. Ellis Ave.). More info here.

Gene Siskel Film Center
Ken Loach’s 2023 film THE OLD OAK (113 min, DCP Digital) and Minhal Baig’s 2024 film WE GROWN NOW (93 min, DCP Digital) begin screening this week. See Venue website for showtimes.

The 2024 National Theatre Live production of Jack Thorne’s 2023 play THE MOTIVE AND THE CUE (180 min, Digital Projection), directed by Sam Mendes, screens Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. More info on all screenings and events here.

⚫ Hyde Park Art Center (5020 S. Cornell Ave.)
Amos Poe’s recently rediscovered 1978 film ASCENDING DESCENDING (Unconfirmed Runtime and Format) screens Saturday at 12pm. Artist Sandra Binion and film historian Bruce Jenkins in person to take part in a Zoom conversation with Poe after the screening More info here.

⚫ Leather Archives & Museum (6418 N. Greenview Ave.)
James Signorelli’s 1988 film ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK (96 min, Digital Projection) screens Saturday, 7pm, as part of the Fetish Film Forum. Co-presented by Abhorrent Cinema. More info here.

⚫ Music Box Theatre
David Zellner and Nathan Zellner’s 2024 film SASQUATCH SUNSET (89 min, DCP Digital) continues. See Venue website for showtimes.

Brett Ratner’s 1998 film RUSH HOUR (98 min, 35mm) screens Friday and Saturday at midnight.

Shawn Bannon’s 2024 documentary THE SMELL OF MONEY (84 min, DCP Digital) screens Saturday, 4:30pm, followed by a post-screening Q&A. Programmed and presented by Crate Free USA & Food Animals Concerns Trust (FACT).

Peter Segal’s 1995 comedy TOMMY BOY (97 min, 35mm) screens Tuesday at 7pm. Co-presented by the Second City Film School.

The Haroula Rose Tribute Filmmaker Event, part of the 2024 Cinema Femme Short Film Fest, takes place Thursday, 7pm, in the Music Box Lounge. More info on all screenings and events here.

⚫ Sweet Void Cinema (3036 W. Chicago Ave.)
Find more information on the Humboldt Park microcinema, including its larger screening and workshop schedule, here.


Beyond the Dust: Colonial Legacy in the Desert
, programmed by Martí Madaula Esquirol, 2023 - 2024 Graduate Curatorial Fellow at the Video Data Bank, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago MFA candidate in Film, Video, New Media, and Animation, screens for free on VDB TV. Includes short works by More info here.

CINE-LIST: April 19 - April 25,2024

MANAGING EDITORS //Ben and Kat Sachs

CONTRIBUTORS // Ray Ebarb, Megan Fariello, Marilyn Ferdinand, Michael Frank, Ben Kaye, Mojo Lorwin, Raphael Jose Martinez, Dmitry Samarov, Harrison Sherrod, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, K.A. Westphal

:: FRIDAY, APRIL 19 - THURSDAY, APRIL 25 ::     — CINEFILE.info (2024)


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