Gene Siskel Film Center’s 18th annual European Union Film Festival, the largest showcase for the European Union nations in North America, began March 9 and will end April 5. There are 61 films from 27 nations; nine directed by women (roughly 14.8 percent, down from last year’s record high of 25 percent). Recommending films ranging from dramatic narratives to compassionate documentaries, FF2 Media has compiled individual “Best of the Fest” lists from three Chicago team members.
Here are Stephanie A. Taylor’s three takeaways from the festival, ranging highest to lowest.
Number 1: Number One. France. Tonie Marshall directs an intense film, filled with power, greed and misogyny. Emmanuelle Blanchey (Emmanuelle Devos) is approached by a feminist group who convinces her to fight for the CEO position at a top company. If she succeeds she’d be the first female with that position at that company. Emmanuelle doesn’t want to play the female card, and is hesitant to accept this challenge. The film is filled with twists, drama, blackmail and is all too good to keep to myself. This is a sumptuous piece of work. SAT: 5/5
Number 2: Miss Kiet’s Children. Netherlands. Directed by Peter Lataster and Petra Lataster-Czisch, this documentary shows a Dutch primary school’s teacher who is firm, fair and compassionate. The students are immigrants from different countries, including Syria. Written by Petra Lataster-Czisch. The film is touching and heartwarming. In one particular scene Miss Kiet tends to a girl who has dirty paints after a fall. She cleans them and verbally soothes her. Although there are times when she’s a bit stern, as she lectures the children on roughhousing and bullying; you see other sweet moments. SAT: 4.5/5 (Read full FF2 Media review HERE).
Number 3: Mademoiselle Paradis. Austria/Germany. Barbara Albert directs a poignant and riveting real-life account of a blind prodigy named Maria Theresia von Paradis (Maria-Victoria Dragus). Her overbearing parents leave her with Dr. Franz Mesmer (Devid Striesow) to cure her blindness. The lead actress gives a convincing performance of a talented young woman and shows the internal struggles of the character. SAT: 4/5
From FF2 Media Team: While the percentage of female filmmakers at this year’s CEUFF is disappointing, the quality of the films created by women shown here rivals and exceeds any of its male counterparts. These are beautifully told stories of various genres to entertain, enlighten, and engage viewers—exactly what films (no matter the gender) are meant to do.
For ticket and film information about all of the films playing at the CEUFF, go to http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/ceuff/2018/festivalfilms
© Stephanie A. Taylor (3/19/18) FF2 Media
Photos (top to bottom): Number One, Miss Kiet's Children, Mademoisell Paradise
Photo credits: Gene Siskel Film Center