European Union Film Festival

The European Union Film Festival runs Friday, February 5, through Sunday, February 21, at the Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Admission is $6, $3 for Film Center members. For more information call 312-443-3737.



Katja von Garnier directed this 1997 German feature about four music-making female convicts who break out of prison during a policemen’s ball. (6:00)


Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1998 made-for-TV Italian feature (with English dialogue) focuses on a wealthy British pianist in Rome (David Thewlis) and his attraction to his African housekeeper (Thandie Newton), whose husband is a political prisoner. As a story this is relatively slight and tentative for Bertolucci, and it’s carried mainly by the actors, but as a stylistic exercise–a mosaic of images and singular editing patterns–it’s the most interesting thing he’s done in years. Also known as The Siege. (JR) (8:15)


Back in Trouble

Andy Bausch wrote and directed this 1997 heist caper from Luxembourg, a bleak, fitfully comic sequel to his 1988 film The Troublemaker. Johnny Chicago, fresh out of jail but eager to score again, rounds up his old accomplices, but things go downhill for him–and us–after a parade of cliches meant to demonstrate his infatuation with American blues and gangsters. Bausch tries hard to copy Quentin Tarantino’s blithe, loopy sense of anarchy and Aki Kaurismaki’s down-and-out eccentricity, but he never quite captures the right ironic tone for what turns out to be a shaggy-dog tale. The film offers some engaging glimpses of life in Luxembourg’s bilingual capital–far more engaging than the misadventures of Johnny, who’s played by Thierry Van Werveke as a repository of surly tics and Mickey Rourke grunginess. (TS) (4:00)

Suzie Washington

Refusing to browbeat us with back story or to inspire pity or judgment, writer-director Florian Flicker allows us simply to shadow Nana (Birgit Doll), an astonishingly calm and resourceful woman who’s desperate to get to the U.S. from somewhere in the former Soviet Union. Stopped at the Vienna airport for using a fake passport, she eludes the authorities and makes her way to the German border. Voice-over readings of postcards to a hypothetical American uncle reverberate enigmatically throughout this 1998 drama, as Nana invites us to share a tempered intimacy–we don’t know her whole story, but, like the few strangers she allows to help her, we know as much as we need to. (LA) Flicker will attend the screening. (6:00)

The Chambermaid

See Critic’s Choice. (8:00)


Riviera Hotel

A 1998 Dutch television documentary about Cuba’s glamorous Riviera Hotel, which hosted such notables as Frank Sinatra, William Holden, Ginger Rogers, and crime boss Meyer Lansky before Castro came to power. Directed by Bernie IJdis. On the same program, Christa Moesker’s four-minute short Sientje. (4:00)


A 13-year-old girl retreats into her own fantasy world in Patrice Toye’s 1998 Belgian feature. (6:00)



This 1998 Finnish feature by Pirjo Honkasalo follows a mother and her twin daughters from World War II to the present. (6:00)

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Chambermaid film still.