European Union Film Festival Hits Chicago


Movies in the United States are getting a bit homogeneous. Every month it’s another superhero, sequel, or remake film. I mean how many “Fast and Furious” films do we really need? Take a break from all that, and explore the world of European cinema at the European Union Film Festival.

The Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes the 18th Annual European Union Film Festival where 27 of the Union’s nations are represented in the 61 films that are premiering in Chicago for the first time. It is a great opportunity to get a feel of the vast and diverse culture that spreads across the continent. Here are some films you don’t want to miss.

France in the 1990s was exploding with electronic music that has truly influenced the world even though many don’t know it. “Eden” is directed by Mia Hansen-Løve and is inspired by the exploits, trials, and tribulations of her brother Sven Hansen-Løve, who was a successful DJ and also co-screenwriter on the film. The film covers the rise of the Garage sound, electronic music with more soul, and it’s decline and how the main character, Paul, deals with the trend roller coaster. Of course, being about ’90s French electronic music the popular duo Daft Punk is well represented in the film with their music and funny running gag.

In “Phoenix” Nelly Lenz is an Auschwitz survivor who had to have facial reconstruction surgery due to getting shot and is returning to Berlin in search for her husband. When she finds him they both suspend belief as he doesn’t recognize her and she doesn’t suspect any motives from him. What motives you ask? Well, I’m not going to ruin this post-WWII thriller that will definitely keep you on your toes.

If you’re a fan of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” which is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, then don’t miss “Shirley: Visions of Reality.” Austrian avant-garde filmmaker Gustav Deutsch brings 13 iconic Hopper paintings to life through a loose narrative that does its best to capture the artworks’ essence.

When you’re doing a film about one of the world’s most influential filmmakers  you have a lot to live up to and Ettore Scola does that with “How Strange to be Named Federico.” Scola tells the life story of Federico Fellini in the most appropriate way  by using many of Fellini’s techniques and style to cover everything from his time working at “Marc’Aurelio” to filming “Nights of Cabiria.” Scola, a colleague of the late Fellini, creates a deeply personal tribute of the great filmmaker.

The European Union Film Festival runs until April 2 at the Gene Siskel Film Center located at 164 N. State St. For tickets and a schedule visit

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