Launched back in 1998, the European Union Film Festival has grown into one of the city’s very best cinematic events, the only serious rival in size and quality to the venerable Chicago International Film Festival. This year, through April 3, Gene Siskel Film Festival presents 64 new features from EU member nations, including Chicago premieres of new work by Daniel Auteuil (Fanny, Marius), Francois Ozon (Young & Beautiful), Paul Verhoeven (Tricked), Lukas Moodysson (We Are the Best!), Michael Winterbottom (Everyday, The Trip to Italy), John Akomfrah (The Stuart Hall Project), and Mika Kaurismäki (Road North). We’re lucky if we can cover a third of the films screening, but as you can see below, we thought five of the six features covered this week were worth recommending. That ought to speak for itself. —J.R. Jones
The Strange Little Cat This absurdist German comedy might also be called “The Strange Little Film.” It takes place almost entirely in the Berlin apartment of a large middle-class family over the course of a lazy Saturday. Catastrophe keeps threatening to strike (household items break with uncanny frequency, a pair of older siblings exhibit signs of incestuous desire), yet nothing remarkable ever happens; likewise, the characters come close to experiencing epiphanies but don’t quite make it. Writer-director Ramon Zürcher presents all this in a rigid, deadpan style; the camera never moves, and everyone speaks in unemotional non sequiturs. This is an acquired taste to be sure, but it’s certainly unique. In German with subtitles. —Ben Sachs 69 min. Sat 3/8, 5:30 PM, and Wed 3/12, 6 PM.