Four German Films Make Chicago Debut At The 16th Annual European Union Film Festival This Month

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs


Starting today, the 16th Annual European Union Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago kicks off with over 60 films from European Union nations throughout the month of March.  This 28 day festival offers moviegoers the chance to see some of the best new movies coming out of Europe and will feature several celebrity guests, including German actress Barbara Sukowa, who will be holding a discussion on her role in Hannah Arendt on March 8.

Over the course of the festival, four German films will be making their Chicago debuts.  The four films offer a great mix of German talent and stories, none of which happen to be depressing war films.   We’ve included information on each German film below, along with showtimes and trailers.


hannah_arendtHannah Arendt

Friday, March 8 at 7:45pm
Actress Barbara Sukowa will be attending for an audience discussion

A worthy successor to their distinguished collaborations on MARIANNE AND JULIANE, ROSA LUXEMBURG, and VISION, HANNAH ARENDT reunites actress Sukowa and director von Trotta in a compelling true story of intellectual honesty. Covering the 1961 trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker magazine, political theorist Arendt evolves her famous concept of “the banality of evil,” which, along with her exposure of Jewish collaboration during the Holocaust, gains her the enmity of many in the Jewish and intellectual communities. The excellent cast includes Janet McTeer as Arendt’s sardonic friend Mary McCarthy, Nicholas Woodeson as her supportive editor William Shawn, and Alex Milberg as her affectionate husband Heinrich Blücher, but Sukowa towers above them all with her unsentimental portrayal of Arendt’s sometimes forbidding yet ultimately heroic integrity.


oma_bellaOma & Bella

Sunday, March 10 at 3:00pm
Tuesday, March 12 at 6:00pm

“Maybe you’d like a cookie?” We, along with filmmaker Karolinski, are invited into the kitchen of the Berlin flat that her Jewish grandmother (“oma” in German) Regina shares with her longtime friend Bella. Amid bubbling pots and sizzling pans, these two indomitable women reveal mouth-watering recipes along with priceless memories–some sweet, some sour–of prewar youth, wartime tragedies, and postwar pleasures (“Our youth had been stolen; we wanted to make up for lost time”). They take excursions around the city, but somehow the film always comes back to the kitchen and the conversation to food, which becomes the thread of memory, continuity, and survival in this poignant, funny, and affectionate portrait.


home_for_weekendHome For The Weekend (Was Bleibt)

Friday, March 15 at 6:15pm
Saturday, March 16 at 6:30pm

In this subtle chamber drama evoking Chekhov and Bergman, director Schmid (REQUIEM) sidesteps obvious melodrama in favor of underlying tensions that draw the viewer into an atmosphere of slippery unease. Marko (Eidlinger of EVERYONE ELSE), a rising Berlin author, is summoned to a family gathering at his parents’ gracious home outside Bonn. There his mother (Harfouch of DOWNFALL), long suffering from manic depression, announces that she has decided to stop taking her medications. Her decision acts as a catalyst that brings to the surface the family members’ buried secrets and evasions, exacerbated when the mother suddenly disappears.


this_aint_californiaThis Ain’t California

Friday, March 22 at 6:00pm
Saturday, March 23 at 5:00pm

“To most people, East Germany and skateboarding don’t go together.” Ain’t that the Wahrheit! This fascinating film recounts how the early 1980s emergence of skateboarding in the über-repressive GDR spearheaded a precarious youth rebellion that encompassed dance, music, sex, drugs, and politics. Beginning in BIG CHILL fashion with former skate buddies attending the funeral of their charismatic leader, the film deftly blends archival footage, animation, reenactments, and straight enactments. This isn’t just a movie about skateboarding; it’s a hidden history of East Germany and, more broadly, a testament to the vitality of the counterculture, even in the unlikeliest circumstances.


A $50 European Union Festival pass is good for 6 movies at a reduced price (normal ticket price is $11 per show) and includes a free small popcorn with each film.  There are a lot of other great non-German films being shown, so if you get the 6 movie pass, there are some great choices.  The 16th annual European Union Film Festival runs from March 1-28 and more information is available at the source link below.


Sources: Gene Siskel Film Center
Photo elements by Timothy Vollmer & Yanni Koutsomitis via flickr

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Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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