REELwomen Program At 47th Chicago International Film Festival Will Highlight Works Of First-time Women Filmmakers And Documentarians
Created to celebrate the contributions that female writers and directors continue to make to film around the world, the REELwomen program at the 47th Chicago International Film Festival will introduce Chicago audiences to the works of first-time women filmmakers and documentarians.
More than half of the documentaries featured in this year’s Docufest competition are directed by women, most of them focusing on the arts. First-time filmmakers like Yasemin Samderelli, Alice Rohrwacher and Julia Leigh explore issues of identity – whether national or sexual – while others, like Susan Jacobson are staking a claim on genre films. The program also welcomes the return of Festival alumni filmmakers Mia Hansen-Løve and Lynne Ramsay.
All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert USA (Director: Vivian Ducat) — If there was ever a case for designating a person a National Treasure, Winfred Rembert is that person. Though he lived through segregation and the civil rights era in the Deep South, Rembert didn’t begin his life as an artist until the 1990s. Working on cured leather canvasses that are later painted, Rembert depicts a personalized form of US history that you can’t get in books or anywhere else for that matter. Chicago Premiere. Director Vivian Ducat is scheduled to attend.
Almanya: Welcome to Germany Germany (Director Yasemin Samdereli) — A six-year-old in Germany confronts and questions the nature of self-identity after learning of his Turkish grandfather’s journey as a guest worker in the 1960s.The discussion leads the whole family to travel to their original home in Turkey, a trip that will prove surprising in more ways than one. This delightful comedy shows that your identity is not determined by where you live or where your parents come from, but rather what you feel inside. Chicago Premiere.
Andrew Bird: Fever Year US (Director: Xan Aranda) — Classically trained yet utterly unconventional, musician Andrew Bird has been defying classification for 20 albums and countless live shows. And though Fever Year covers the culminating months of the artist’s last tour, it’s as much about the creative process as it is about performance. The film’s sensuous visual style is a match for the musician whose combination of voice, violin, and whistle could charm Hades himself. Chicago Premiere. Director Xan Aranda is scheduled to attend.
Buddha Mountain China (Director: Yu Li) — In this charming youth drama shot American-indie style from China, three friends have given up on their future, spending their time partying and working odd-end jobs. When their apartment complex is marked for demolition, they end up renting a room from a former Peking Opera singer who is still grieving over her son’s death. Their two worlds collide at first, but the four, each broken in their own way, discover a family of sorts united by their differences. Chicago Premiere.
Carol Channing: Larger than Life USA (Director: Dori Berinstein) — Inspiring, heartwarming, hilarious and full of life, this portrait of the Tony® and Golden Globe® award winning actress, singer and comedienne weaves Broadway history with an unbelievable love story to capture the unique persona behind the iconic performances in Hello Dolly and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Stay for the end credits: the film’s outtakes just cannot be missed. Chicago Premiere.
Cinema Komunisto Serbia (Director: Mira Turjalic) — If the illusion of reality is the currency of cinema, then cinephile and former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito bought and paid for his countries thrilling and heroic (but mostly made up) history. This award-winning documentary chronicles the 40-year history of Avala Studio, built by Tito to crank out well-made propaganda films in order to shape and control his country’s image in a post-war world. This veritable compendium of archival footage and clips from over 60 classic Yugoslav films includes remembrances from Tito’s personal projectionist. Chicago Premiere. Director Mila Turajlic is scheduled to attend.
Corpo Celeste Italy (Director: Alice Rohrwacher) — Mysteries of the flesh collide with questions of the soul when Marta, her mother and younger sister move back to their native Italy. Enrolled in catechism class, Marta finds that the lessons contradict the local priest’s support of a morally ambiguous political candidate. Marta must come to terms with her conflicts over the church’s religious teachings as well as the conflicts occurring within her own changing body. Chicago Premiere.
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel USA (Director: Lisa Immordino Vreeland) — A true American visionary, Diana Vreeland became the first fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar in 1936 and from there proceeded to invent the concept of fashion as we now know it. A talented writer with a larger than life personality, she had an innate ability to discover designers, photographers and new ideas often to the point of controversy. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s delightfully playful tribute uses archival footage, family photos and an animated conversation with George Plympton. Chicago Premiere. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland is scheduled to attend.
Ending Note: The Death of a Japanese Salesman Japan (Director: Mami Sunada) — When a recently retired Japanese businessman is diagnosed with incurable cancer, he reacts to the news with the same pragmatic approach that made him a successful salesman. In her directorial debut, Mami Sunada combines non-fiction film form with the growing trend of “end of life journals” among the elderly in Japan. By channeling her thoughts and feelings through her father’s “ending note,” Sunada abstracts the weight of a life and the pain of loss into a surprisingly hopeful and life-affirming message. North American Premiere.
The Good Son Finland (Director: Zaida Bergroth) — Seventeen-year-old Ilmari has spent most of his young life looking after his mother, Leila, a renowned actress who loves to be the center of attention, and his younger brother. After a recent scandal, Leila takes all three of them to a distant island for a quiet weekend but soon grows bored and invites all of her friends over for a party. There, she falls for scriptwriter Aimo, and soon Ilmari’s resentment explodes in this tragic portrait of a dysfunctional family. US Premiere.
Goodbye First Love France/Germany (Director: Mia Hansen-Løve) — There is nothing quite like first love—or the heartbreak that follows. Camille and Sullivan are head over heels, but his longing for independence and her need for security drive a deep wedge between them, and they part ways. Eight years later, Camille has finally moved on and found new love—until Sullivan reenters her life. This tale of pathos and passion captures the ardor, intensity, and anguish of love. Chicago Premiere.
The Holding UK (Director: Susan Jacobson) — After Cassie murders her abusive husband, a manipulative neighbor tries to run her off her land. Help seems to come in the form of gruff Scotsman Aden, but Cassie soon regrets letting Aden into her life when his true nature begins to manifest itself. Stylish direction and taut performances keep adrenaline running high in this accomplished, atmospheric gothic thriller. US Premiere. Susan Jacobson is scheduled to attend.
Hotel Swooni Belgium (Director: Kaat Beels) — What is happiness? How do we grasp it? Six characters fumble desperately as their lives intersect over the course of one day and night in Brussels’ luxurious Hotel Swooni. A couple must face the truth about their marriage, while a mother and daughter seek to repair their fractured relationship and a young African boy urgently searches for his missing father. Emotions run high in this surprising kaleidoscope of hopes and doubts, passion and betrayal, at the hotel in which no one checks out quite the same as they checked in. US Premiere. Director Kaat Beels is scheduled to attend.
The Kid Who Lies Venezuela (Director: Marité Ugás) — In this touching mix of road movie and coming-of-age story, a 13-year-old boy wanders the roads of Venezuela alone in search of the mother he never knew. As he makes his way amid the wreckage left behind by mudslides that hit a coastal town 10 years ago, the boy shares stories of the tragedy with the people he meets, as he tries to come to terms with what happened to his family. U.S. Premiere. Director Marité Ugás is scheduled to attend.
L.A. Raeven: Beyond the Image The Netherlands (Director: Lisa Boerstra) — Lisbeth and Angelique Raeven are twin sisters who comprise the somewhat notorious video and performance duo L.A. Raeven. Their complex and strained relationship unfolds in front of Lisa Boerstra’s intimate camera while they work and live through the creation of two new performance pieces. Inter-cutting scenes from earlier work and home videos from their childhood, viewers are privy to the daily routines and conversations at the home and studio they share. North American Premiere. Director Lisa Boerstra is scheduled to attend.
The Land of Oblivion France (Director: Michale Boganim) — To the citizens of Prypiat, April 26, 1986 began just like any other day. Anya (Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace) and Piotr celebrate their marriage while young Valery spends time with his physicist father, oblivious to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that is irrevocably changing their lives. What follows is a lyrical, pathos-filled portrait of the next ten years of those powerless to separate themselves from the town and its defining tragedy. U.S. Premiere.
Love Always, Carolyn Sweden (Directors: Malin Korkeasalo and Maria Ramström ) — Muse, mother, wife, and lover, Carolyn Cassady was the great woman behind two of the Beat Generations greatest men: Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac. As the model for Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty in On The Road, Neal was a living legend who often left Carolyn and the kids behind for grand adventures in the beatnik universe. This endearing portrait from first-time directors Maria Ramström and Malin Korkeasalo celebrates the wit, beauty, grace, and normalcy of an overlooked figure from one of American literature’s most popular moments. Chicago Premiere.
On the Edge Morocco/Germany (Director: Leila Kilani) — Badia and Imane dream of leaving their job at a shrimp processing plant in Tangier and working in the “Free Zone”—an enclave beyond the capital city that boasts European business practices and proffers entry into a better life. The twosome befriend another duo who work at a textile plant in the “Free Zone” and begin making some extra cash stealing goods to resell on the black market. Moody and edgy, reflecting the girls’ own restiveness, this noir-infused tale plaintively examines the cost of class aspiration in an unyielding society. Chicago Premiere.
Romeos Germany (Director: Sabine Bernardi) — Lukas, a female-to-male transgendered youth undergoing hormone replacement therapy, travels to Cologne for his compulsory civil service. There he meets the attractive Fabio, who embodies all Lukas wants to be after his surgery is completed. But can he open up to Fabio? And what will happen to their relationship if he does? The charisma, sensitivity, and chemistry between the leads makes this unique love story a treasure to watch. Chicago Premiere.
Sleeping Beauty Australia (Director: Julia Leigh) — Forget everything you thought you knew about Sleeping Beauty. In Julia Leigh’s unsettling take on the classic tale, the beauty is Lucy (Emily Browning), a young woman who begins working at a niche job in the sex industry in order to pay for her education. Drugged and placed in a “sleeping beauty chamber”, Lucy becomes the plaything of paying customers, where almost anything is permissible. With so much beyond her control, will Lucy ever wake up to the world around her? Chicago Premiere.
The Slut Israel (Director: Hagar Ben Asher) — Winner of the Best Director prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Hagar Ben Asher’s alternative, almost anti-cautionary tale presents Tamar, a beautiful, young single mother with a seemingly insatiable sexual appetite. While running a chicken farm with her two daughters, she finds servicing the village’s lackluster men gets her through the inconveniences of everyday life. That is until a hunky veterinarian comes to town. U.S. Premiere. Director Hagar Ben Asher is scheduled to attend.
Tomboy France (Director: Céline Sciamma) — Gender identity and friendship lie at the heart of this sweet, heartbreaking film. After moving into a new home with her mother and sister, 10-year-old Laure willingly poses as a boy after being confused for one by neighbor Lisa. As Michael, Laure soon wins the admiration of neighborhood boys for her soccer skills and girls for her sensitivity. No matter how imaginative Laure is in dealing with boy issues, keeping her true identity secret will prove difficult as she and Lisa become closer. Chicago Premiere.
Turn Me On, Dammit! Norway (Director: Jannicke Systad Jacobsen) — Fifteen-year-old Alma feels trapped in her small Norwegian town. To curb her restlessness and active imagination and to satiate her sexual appetite, Alma regularly calls a phone sex hotline. After an awkward sexual encounter with a crush turns her into a social pariah, Alma decides to run away to Oslo. Funny, quirky and endearing, Turn Me On, Dammit! charmingly captures the ups and downs of teenage sexuality. Chicago Premiere.
Valley of the Forgotten Brazil (Director: Maria Raduan) — In a secluded area of Brazil’s Mato Grosso region, an impossible land dispute rages between Indians evicted from their homeland, squatters, land-grabbers, the Landless Workers Movement, and the ranchers who own property. With no resolution in sight and violence threatening to erupt at any moment, the film looks closely at each group’s perspective, offering a meditation on the concept of private property across social and cultural boundaries. U.S. Premiere.
We Need to Talk about Kevin UK (Director: Lynne Ramsay) — In a tour-de-force performance, Tilda Swinton plays reluctant mother Eva grappling with her fraught relationship with troubled son Kevin (Ezra Miller). Based on Lionel Shriver’s eponymous novel and featuring a shining performance by Chicago’s very own John C. Reilly, Lynne Ramsay’s masterful psychological thriller presents a provocative tale, which crescendos to a chilling, unforgettable climax. Chicago Premiere
All events, except Opening Night, are at the AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois Street. Tickets for the 47th Chicago International Film Festival are on sale now. Opening Night tickets and festival passes may be purchased on the Festival website. All individual tickets must be purchased by phone 312-332-FILM (3456), in person by visiting the Festival box office at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.), or through Ticketmaster.