The Chicago International Film Festival began Oct. 10 at the AMC River East. Approximately 30 percent of the films in its lineup are directed by women, including Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Elizabeth Chomko’s What They Had. These films have upcoming release dates in Chicago, but the festival’s foreign language offerings might be harder to come by for local audiences and have just as much to offer - 23 percent of this year’s submissions for the Academy Awards foreign language category were directed by women, according to Women and Hollywood.
Though the festival is offering a variety of notable foreign films from female directors now through Oct. 21, FF2 has selected three of our favorites from France, Italy and Spain - all of which display the complex relationships between parents and their children, the past and the present. Its themes transcend language and culture, creating important narratives any family can relate to.
Film: Claire Darling
Director: Julie Bertuccelli
Catherine Deneuve plays the titular character in this reflective, meaningful drama from seasoned director Bertuccelli. Deneuve’s real-life daughter (Chiara Mastroianni) also stars as her grown child Marie, who returns home to their estranged relationship as concern for her mother’s behavior grows. Claire is determined to sell her belongings as her life nears its end, all of the items in her home in a small French village heavy with memories. Her possessions take her back to the time in life in which she obtained each thing, making for a fascinating non-linear narrative. Deneuve and Mastroianni are wonderful foils for each other, a compelling aspect of this moving drama that is only heightened by the knowledge that the actresses are actually mother and daughter.
Film: Couch Potatoes
Director: Francesca Archiburgi
Archiburgi examines the painful, minute intricacies of a father-son relationship in this compelling, humorous feature. Milan-based TV host Giorgio (Claudio Bisio) and teen son Tito (Gaddo Bacchini) are the typical parent-child crossroads of fighting over train schedules, dinner times and video games, but the reemergence of divorcée Giorgio’s “crazy” old flame makes things anything but typical for them. Bisio is especially fun to watch as a frustrated father trying his best, while Bacchini and his group of friends capture the memorable aloofness of that age. While festival’s excellent opening film Beautiful Boy captured the complex relationship between a young crystal meth addict and his father, it’s a refreshing change to watch Giorgio and Tito grapple with quite a different predicament.
Film: Facing the Wind
Country: Spain, Argentina, France
Director: Meritxell Colell Aparicio
The catharsis of dance plays a central role in this tense, slow-simmering family drama. Choreographer Mónica (Mónica Garcia) goes back to her hometown in Spain for the first time in decades to see her terminally-ill father. His death rocks her family and forces her and her mother (Concha Canal) to deal with their past and figure out their future. Facing the Wind uses its many silent moments well - viewers feel the urgency in Mónica’s dancing, her grief, her journey home. Though any memorable dialogue is few and far between, it almost feels intentional on writer-director Aparicio’s part - sometimes words aren’t enough.
Top Photo: Garcia and Canal in Facing the Wind.
Middle Photo: Deneuve steals Claire Darling.
Bottom Photo: Bacchini (center) is Tito in Couch Potatoes.