Four takeaways from the 2017 Chicago European Union Film Festival

Four takeaways from the 2017 Chicago European Union Film Festival

Hosted by the Gene Siskel Film Center, the month-long Chicago European Union Film Festival (CEUFF) featured 15 films directed by women (15 out of 62 = ~ 25% = a record high for this event). FF2 Media has compiled “Best of the Fest” lists from three Chicago team members, recommending films ranging from food documentaries like Cooking up a Tribute to holiday heartwarmers, A Holy Mess and All the Best. Kudos & thanks to the Gene Siskel Film Center!

The 20th Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival premiered 62 new films during its throughout its March run. Sixteen were directed by women (a record number), and I saw four. Here’s my “Best of the Fest” list from highest to lowest ranking.

Number 1: Cezanne and I. France. Written and directed by Daniele Thompson, this double BioPic is wonderfully crafted. It tugged at my heartstrings and left me misty-eyed. It’s a touching story about the friendship of Paul Cezanne (Guillaume Gallienne) and Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet) who’ve been close friends since childhood. Cezanne becomes a frustrated artist and Zola becomes a successful writer. However, conflict comes between the two when Zola writes a book that seems loosely based on Cezanne’s tumultuous life as an artist. The acting was effortless and the bond between the two characters are beyond convincing. If you’re looking for something deep, raw, emotional and heartbreaking, I highly suggest this film. (SAT: 5/5)

Number 2:  A Serious Game. Sweden. This film is an adaptation of the novel (of the same title) written by Hjalmar Söderberg. Directed by Pernilla August. A journalist named Avird (Sverrir Gudnason) and an artist’s daughter Lydia named (Karin Franz Körlof) fall madly in love. But Avird is impoverished and feels he’s unable to marry Lydia because of that. Years go by, they both marry rich spouses, and eventually have families of their own. But that doesn’t stop them from rekindling their relationship. It’s beautifully tragic and very passionate. However, there is a bit of a double standard when it comes to infidelity and it seems as though Avird looks at Lydia as his possession. Nevertheless, if you like drama and sexy love scenes, this is a must-see. (SAT: 4/5)

Number 3: Greetings from Fukushima. Germany. Writer/director Doris Dorrie creates a powerful piece. In a Japanese town called Fukushima, a young German woman, Marie (Rosalie Thomass), helps entertain Japanese refugees who were affected by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in March of 2011. Hoping to distract herself from her own misery, she becomes even more miserable when things don’t work out. She meets an older Japanese woman named Satomi (Kaori Momoi), who convinces Marie to drive to the remnants of Satomi's home in the Exclusion Zone. While they get off to a bumpy start, they begin to bond -- but not without a few problems, and a few ghosts. The film is shot in black and white and has some funny moments in an otherwise dreary film. If you like eerie, comedic and dramatic movies you may like this one. (SAT: 3.5/5)

Number 4: Gozo. Malta/UK. Miranda Bowen has directed a film that’s haunting, passionate and eerie. The mixture of sex, betrayal and suicide make for a dramatic film. Two British lovers Joe (Joseph Kennedy) and Lucille (Ophelia Lovibond) take a holiday to Gozo, an island near Malta. Things are carefree and fun. Then they take a turn. Not my thing, but if you like dark and sexy, then I recommend this. (SAT: 2.5/5 )

© Stephanie Taylor (3/24/17) FF2 Media

Photos and Photo Credits: Cezanne and I (Orange Studio) A Serious Game (B-Reel Films) Greetings from Fukushima (Constantin Films) Gozo (Bishop Films).