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 NEBRASKANEBRASKA

The 49th Chicago International Film Festival which runs October 10 to October 24, 2013, has selected Joel and Ethan Coen’s INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS as the Festival’s Closing Night Film; and NEBRASKA, directed by Academy Award®-winner Alexander Payne, as the Festival’s Centerpiece Film.  In addition, the festival announced the full lineup of films selected to screen in the International Feature, New Directors, Docufest, After Dark, Q Hugo, and Short Film Competitions.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, written and directed by Academy Award® winners Joel and Ethan Coen and based on their original screenplay, stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, and Justin Timberlake. The film, which will be distributed by CBS Films in the U.S., begins its theatrical run on December 6.

NSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.  Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is at a crossroads.  Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles – some of them of his own making.  Living at the mercy of both friends and strangers, scaring up what work he can find, Llewyn’s misadventures take him from the baskethouses of the Village to an empty Chicago club – on an odyssey to audition for a music mogul – and back again.  

Brimming with music performed by Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan (as Llewyn’s married Village friends), as well as Marcus Mumford and Punch Brothers, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS – in the tradition of O Brother, Where Art Thou? – is infused with the transportive sound of another time and place. An epic on an intimate scale, it represents the Coen Brothers’ fourth collaboration with multiple-Grammy and Academy Award®-winning music producer T Bone Burnett.  Marcus Mumford is associate music producer. 

NEBRASKA, written by Bob Nelson and starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte and Stacy Keach, and shot in black and white across four states, tells the stories of family life in the heartland of America.  After receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail, a cantankerous father (Bruce Dern) thinks he’s struck it rich, and wrangles his son (Will Forte) into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. 

The Festival will present Bruce Dern, winner of the Award for Best Actor at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, a Career Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding and diverse work during this gala presentation.

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE COMPETITION

Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these films compete for the Festival’s top honor, the Gold Hugo-as well as trophies for best actors, director, and writer-in North America’s longest-running competitive film festival.

Banklady Germany (Director: Christian Alvart) – Banklady tells the true story of Gisela Werler, a law-abiding factory worker from Hamburg who falls in love with a thief and becomes a media darling as Germany’s first and most notorious female bank robber. Cunning, sexy, and exciting, Gisela and her beloved Hermann pull off one daring heist after another. Banklady follows this outlaw who captured Germany’s imagination, boldly defying gender expectations and living a decades-long Bonnie and Clyde romance. North American Premiere.

Blue Ruin USA (Director: Jeremy Saulnier) – Blue Ruin is a classic American revenge story that recently won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival where it screened in the Directors’ Fortnight. The film follows a mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. Chicago Premiere

How To Describe A Cloud Netherlands (Director: David Verbeek) – Liling, a hip young DJ, returns to her rural village to care for her ailing mother. On the advice of the doctor, she tries to slow her blind mother’s memory loss by describing the world around her. As Liling herself struggles to stay connected to the physical world, she begins to become subsumed in her mother’s world of mysticism and imagination. Beautifully dreamlike, this sincere and poignant film follows Liling as she grows closer to her fading mother. Chicago Premiere.

Just a Sigh France (Director: Jérôme Bonnell) – Between performances of an Ibsen play in Calais, actress Alix (exquisitely played by Emmanuelle Devos) travels to Paris for an audition. On the train, she meets a mysterious, stoic Englishman (Gabriel Byrne). Played out over the course of a day, the film beautifully chronicles the blossoming of an all-too-brief love affair between the two, a momentary romance that brings hope and passion into Alix’s harried life, and comfort to her lover. Chicago Premiere

Lifelong Turkey/Germany/Netherlands (Director: Asli Özge) – This expertly crafted, gorgeously shot drama explores the fading connection between Ela, a respected artist, and her husband Can, a successful architect. As the two grow apart, Ela worries that Can is cheating on her. Though in preparation for a major gallery show, Ela finds herself increasingly distracted. With the sophisticated tautness of a thriller and the devastating emotion of a tragedy, Lifelong tracks one relationship’s heartbreaking disintegration. North American Premiere.

 A Long And Happy Life Russia (Director: Boris Khlebnikov) – Sasha, a city kid with agrarian ambitions, moved to the country to head up a collective farming project, determined to make the experiment work. A recent local government offer to buy up the farmland seems too good to resist, but Sasha becomes staunch in his decision to stay. Bolstered by the resolution of the local farmworkers, he is pitted against the stakeholders in a decision that may cost him his livelihood – or his life – in this heady social realist drama. Chicago Premiere.

The Miracle (Denmark) Director: Simon Staho – Jakob and Johanna were first loves, best friends, and ballroom dancers – until she found a better partner. Years later, embittered Jakob returns to find the once vibrant dancer wheelchair-bound and trapped in an unhappy marriage to the local priest, who makes the hoped-for miracle of her recovery the center of his ministry. Their romance rekindled, they must choose between love and security. A sense of mystery and doom pervade this gripping drama about passion, faith, and perversity. US Premiere.

My Sweet Pepper Land Iraq/France/Germany (Director: Hiner Saleem) – After the fall of Saddam Hussein, two unlikely allies converge in a war-torn Kurdish village at the borders of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. Both Baran, a former Kurdish independence war hero, and Govend, a beautiful young woman defying tradition by accepting a post at a newly-opened school, are hell-bent on seeing order and civilization restored to their damaged country. Elements of the Western genre combine with awe-inspiring landscapes in director Hiner Saleem’s socially-inflected frontier tale. North American Premiere.

The Notebook Hungary (Director: János Szász) – This atmospheric WWII thriller follows twin boys sent to the Hungarian countryside to wait out the war’s violent barrage with their embittered, cruel grandmother. Only 13 but grimly determined to survive, the brothers decide that the only way to endure the horrors of war is by extinguishing their own humanity. A chilling portrait of young psyches warped by inconceivable trauma, this critical and audience favorite took the top prize at the prestigious Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Chicago Premiere.

 Pioneer Norway (Director: Erik Skjoldbjærg) – In this gripping, white-knuckle thriller, the Norwegian government has enlisted an American diving company to guide their efforts to tap into the North Sea’s immense oil deposits. Petter and a Norwegian team of divers take on the extremely perilous task of guiding the pipeline 500 meters below the surface. When a sudden accident leads to disaster, Petter must come to terms with the tragedy while attempting to uncover where responsibility lies, quickly running afoul of a sinister conspiracy. Chicago Premiere.

The Priest’sChildren Croatia/Serbia (Director: Vinko Brešan) – Troubled by his small island’s dwindling population, the young and dogmatic Father Fabijan teams up with the local pharmacist and newsstand vendor to take family planning into his own hands. Soon the picturesque island town is awash with pregnant women and shotgun marriages, and word of the island’s fertility turns it into a vacation spot for foreign tourists. The unintended consequences of the plan soon spin out of control in this irreverent, hilarious dark comedy. US Premiere.

Stray Dogs Taiwan/France (Director: Tsai Ming-Liang) – The latest film from Taiwanese master Tsai Ming-Liang (The Wayward Cloud) tells the story of a father and his two children who live on the margins in Taipei. Squatting in an abandoned building, they get by on handouts and the father’s meager salary as a human billboard. Mysterious and affecting, the story of the father’s unwinding is told with the sublime, rapturous beauty that has come to be associated with Tsai’s work in one of his most emotionally powerful films. Chicago Premiere

A Thousand Times Good Night Norway (Director: Erik Poppe) – A Thousand Times Good Night follows driven war photographer Rebecca (Juliette Binoche in one of her most powerful performances), known for her willingness to tackle risky subjects. While photographing suicide bombers, she is badly hurt in an explosion. When she returns home to Norway, her husband (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and daughter are tired of her risking her life on dangerous assignments. They give her an ultimatum, making her choose between her work and her family. US Premiere.

The Verdict Belgium (Director: Jan Verheyen) – A successful businessman with a beautiful wife and daughter, Luc Segers leads an idyllic life. It all falls apart when a botched burglary leads to the murder of his wife and the death of his daughter. Luc quickly identifies the killer but a procedural error lets him off scot-free, devastating Luc even further. A taut, award-winning courtroom thriller, The Verdict follows Luc’s obsessive efforts to enact justice. US Premiere.

Wałesa: Man Of Hope Poland (Director: Andrzej Wajda) – Lech Wałesa, an electrician, husband, and new father, works at the Gdansk shipyard. Arrested at a protest, Walesa discovers that he is a born leader. When he speaks, people respond, and he soon becomes the voice and face of the growing Solidarity movement. Aware of the dangers his position entails, he is still determined to fight for his country. Legendary director Andrzej Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds, Katyn) tells the inspiring story of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader. US Premiere

Le Week-End UK (Director: Roger Michell) – An unreservedly honest, emotionally resonant love story from director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette), Le Week-End follows Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and Nick (Jim Broadbent), whose 30-year marriage is dominated by routine and built up resentments. An anniversary holiday to Paris only makes matters worse, with each word and action inciting deep-seated rancor. An accidental meeting with an old American colleague (Jeff Goldblum) challenges the couple to find some way to re-ignite the spark. Chicago Premiere.

NEW DIRECTORS COMPETITION

This selection of first and second feature films receiving their U.S. Premiere in Chicago celebrates the spirit of discovery and innovation, introducing the next generation of the world’s great filmmakers.

The Blinding Sunlight China (Director: Yu Liu) – Three generations of men live together in a poor Beijing neighborhood: father Li drives an illegal motorcycle taxi; son Kai is trying to graduate before getting expelled; and Li’s father collects recyclables for petty cash. They do whatever it takes to get by, negotiating the systems of authority that rule their daily lives. With a raw visual style, this stark neo-realist drama presents a penetrating look at working-class life and the corruption and graft pervading every level of society. US Premiere.

Chasing Fireflies Colombia (Director: Roberto Flores Prieto) – Manrique’s lonely existence watching over an abandoned salt mine in the remote Colombian Caribbean suits him just fine. Content in his isolation, with a dog that spends its nights chasing fireflies as his sole companion, his world is upended when his teenage daughter Valeria shows up as if out of nowhere. As the days pass, Valeria’s determined but cheerful presence forces Manrique out of his routine in this beautiful, understated story about family, love, and the small joys of life. North American Premiere.

The Girls On Liberty Street USA (Director: John Rangel) – With only one week left until she leaves for the Army, teenager Brianna spends her final days at her home in the Chicago suburbs packing and saying goodbye to friends. But in her quiet moments and the seemingly mundane interactions with family members, Brianna’s anxiety about her decision is palpable. Eschewing melodrama, the film imbues this simple story with a deft style and effortlessly natural performances, creating an assured portrait of a young woman in transition. World Premiere.

Illiterate Chile (Director: Moisés Sepúlveda) – For fifty years, Ximena has managed to get by without being able to read. When Jackeline, a young unemployed teacher, comes into her life, Ximena’s isolation is disturbed. Jackeline’s efforts to teach Ximena how to read prove almost Herculean as they clash, but it soon becomes evident that the two women need each other in ways they could never predict. Mesmerizing performances drive this intimate, engrossing chamber drama about learning and acceptance. North American Premiere.

La Jaula De Oro Mexico (Director: Diego Quemada-Díez) – Three Guatemalan teens depart on the treacherous 1,200-mile trek towards the United States, riding atop dilapidated trains in the hope of finding a new life. Together they must undergo an unrelenting, arduous journey in which no one they meet can be trusted and catastrophe waits around every corner. Constantly upending audience expectations, this unrelenting immigration thriller will leave viewers at the edge of their seats until its nail-biting climax comes to a shocking close. US Premiere.

Life Feels Good Poland (Director: Maciej Pieprzyca) – Mateusz is an intelligent, romantic young man tragically trapped inside his own body, suffering from severe cerebral palsy that makes speech and controlled movement nearly impossible. Born into a loving family, Mateusz’s protected world is shattered when circumstances place him in an institution where he is misunderstood and mistreated. Featuring an astonishing, virtuoso lead performance, Life Feels Good beautifully recounts the true story of one man’s extraordinary efforts to endure in the face of impossible odds. US Premiere.

The Major Russia (Director: Yury Bykov) – In the dead of a snowy Russian winter, police major Sobolev, rushing recklessly to the hospital for the birth of his child, causes a fatal accident. Panicked and under great pressure from his colleagues, he participates in the cover up of his crime. But that decision will have disastrous consequences, compounded at each step by the increasingly elaborate scheme and its violent results. The tension builds to an electric climax as the guilt-wracked Sobolev goes on the lam in this thrilling crime drama. US Premiere.

Miele Italy (Director: Valeria Golino) – This tautly written drama follows Irene – nicknamed “Miele” (Italian for “Honey”) – as she treads legal and moral boundaries performing assisted suicides on elderly hospital patients. Progressively dehumanized and alienated, Irene finds what’s left of her morals challenged when she is approached by a depressed, fatalistic, yet physically healthy architect who has lost his will to live. A thought-provoking, humanistic character study featuring sharp, sensitive performances, Miele represents a mature and capable directorial debut from celebrated actress Valeria Golino (Respiro). US Premiere.

Of Good Report South Africa (Director: Jahmil X. T. Qubeka) – This modern day film noir tracks Parker, a shy high school teacher arriving at a new school. While he is earnest in his passion for teaching, his extra-curricular attentions are drawn to a gorgeous young woman. When he realizes she is a student at his very school-and forbidden fruit-he grows increasingly obsessed. When the girl goes missing, a female detective comes snooping around, fueling Parker’s unstable, even dangerous, behavior as she gets closer to the shocking truth. US Premiere

Stockholm Stories Sweden (Director: Karin Fahlén) – The lives of five seemingly unrelated lost souls intertwine in Sweden’s chilly capital in this delicate and wryly funny ensemble film. A precocious yet untalented young writer, a friendless advertising genius, a tight-lipped workaholic, a shy upper-class boy with a secret crush, and a recently dumped young woman all come to realize hard truths about love and life over the course of several days. World Premiere.

Suzanne France (Director: Katell Quillévéré) – Suzanne (beautifully played by the enthralling Sara Forestier) grows up an inquisitive, strong-minded girl in a loving but unstable home with her sister and much absent truck-driving father. When, as a teen, she falls in love with a local tough guy and becomes pregnant, her life takes a plunging trajectory as she continues to choose love above all else. This poignant family portrait explores the ties and limits of family bonds through one young woman’s heartrending journey. North American Premiere.

Wild Duck Greece (Director: Yannis Sakaridis) – Out of work and deeply in debt, telecommunications expert Dimitris abandons his rural hometown in northern Greece and makes for the capital at the behest of his former boss, who enlists his help in tracking down a shadowy group of phone hackers. But what was supposed to be a straightforward job soon grows exponentially more complicated when Dimitris happens upon some dark secrets his employer is hiding in this slowburning, suspenseful exploration of life in Athens. US Premiere.

Wolfschildren Germany (Director: Rick Ostermann) – A remarkable story inspired by true events, Wolfschildren follows 14-year-old Hans and his younger brother Fritz, orphaned after WWII, on the long and difficult journey to Lithuania where family friends might take them in. Almost immediately, the brothers are separated, and Hans must make his way alone through treacherous territory, fighting off disease and hunger while outrunning the Soviet army, praying that he and his brother will find each other again in this beautifully shot, true-life thriller. North American Premiere.

DOCUFEST COMPETITION

From history to personal stories, verite to semi-fiction, this collection of documentaries from around the world competing for the Gold Hugo presents the diverse and vibrant state of contemporary non-fiction filmmaking

American Vagabond Finland/Denmark/USA (Director: Susanna Helke) – Growing up gay in a family and a community that refuse to accept him for who he is, James leaves his hometown for San Francisco. Moving with his boyfriend Tyler, James imagines easily finding a home in the world’s gay Mecca, but without jobs they end up living among the city’s sizable community of homeless queer youth. Both stylized and deeply personal, this moving documentary presents an intimate portrait of its subjects’ joys and struggles. North American Premiere.

Despite The Gods Australia (Director: Penny Vozniak) – Filmmaker Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David and director of the notorious Boxing Helena, traveled to India in 2008 to make Hisss, a modern-day comedy horror-musical film about the beautiful but vengeful snake goddess Nagin. But everything devolves rapidly into chaos as the bloated production falls behind schedule, the set growing increasingly tense and combative as Lynch fights with her producers for control of the film, all the while trying to look after her young daughter and maintain her sanity. US Premiere.

The Exhibition Canada (Director: Damon Vignale) – In an attempt to deflect the public gaze away from Canada’s most notorious serial killer and onto the lives of his victims, artist Pamela Masik creates paintings of the women killed by Robert Pickton. However, her work is quickly met with a backlash from the victims’ families and the Vancouver Aboriginal community. Unafraid to confront moral ambiguity, this documentary examines every nuance of the debate over whether her work is art, tribute, or exploitation. US Premiere.

Honor Diaries USA/Israel/Canada (Director: Paula Kweskin) – Spurred on by the Arab Spring, nine courageous women’s rights advocates gather to discuss gender inequality and a long history of oppression. Provided a platform by filmmaker and human rights lawyer Paula Kweskin, these women speak from personal experience about the hardships women endure in Muslim-majority societies. This inspiring documentary gives voice to these women as they recount their efforts to effect change in their own communities and in the larger world. World Premiere.

Infiltrators Palestine/UAE/Lebanon (Director: Khaled Jarrar) – At the wall separating Israel and Palestine, artist and filmmaker Khaled Jarrar and his small, handheld camera observe people making the dangerous, difficult crossing into Israel under constant threat of discovery by patrolling border guards, and the smugglers that assist them. With urgency and immediacy, Jarrar documents their efforts in this raw and endlessly compelling film that captures the struggle and determination of those whose lives have been forever disrupted by the wall. US Premiere.

Mothers China (Director: Xu Huijing) – In rural China, the job of enforcing the Communist Party’s one-child policy falls on government bureaucrats tasked with imposing fines, birth control, and forced sterilizations. Xu Huijing documents this process in his native village of Ma, following the tenacious efforts of the local birth control chief during an increased sterilization quota period, revealing the absurd and tragic local consequences of high-level government policy. North American Premiere.

Stop-Over France/Switzerland (Director: Kaveh Bakhtiari) – Learning that his cousin Mohsen has left Iran illegally, filmmaker Kaveh Bakhtiari travels to Athens, a common middle ground for undocumented migrants hoping to reach other European countries. Stop-Over captures the constant tension of these immigrants’ everyday lives in the shadows, where every trip outside a crowded safe house is fraught with the danger of arrest and deportation, in a powerful first-person account of life lived under the radar. Chicago Premiere.

Tough Bond USA (Directors: Austin Peck, Anneliese Vandenberg) – On the streets of Nairobi, Tough Bond brand glue is the drug of choice for kids living on their own, numbing themselves to hunger while surviving off scraps. This incredibly moving documentary provides an intimate look at four of these kids – who call themselves “Survivors” – following them over the course of three years and taking the viewer deep into their lives. Filmmakers Peck and Vandenberg employ impressive technical virtuosity in capturing the world of these embattled but resilient children. US Premiere.

Trucker and the Fox Iran (Director: Arash Lahooti) – Newly released from a psychiatric hospital after a bout of severe depression brought on by the death of his pet fox, truck driver Mahmood Kiyani Falavarjani returns to his family, work, and favorite hobby – filmmaking. Having previously won awards for his short films starring his beloved, lamented fox, he sets out to film his most ambitious project yet: a love story between two donkeys. Arash Lahooti’s sympathetic documentary captures Mahmood’s fascinating life as family man, eccentric animal lover, and artist. US Premiere.

AFTER DARK COMPETITION

Flesh-eating zombies, bloodthirsty vigilantes, mysterious maladies, and more – this line up of the best new horror and extreme films is guaranteed to titillate and terrify!

Big Bad Wolves Israel (Directors: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado) – When the seemingly meek schoolteacher Dror is arrested – and then released due to a police blunder – as the lead suspect in a brutal child murder, renegade detective Miki and enraged grieving father Gidi take the law into their own hands in search of information and bloody justice. Their violent rage quickly spins out of control in this fantastically intense, darkly funny revenge thriller from the pioneers of Israeli horror cinema. Chicago Premiere.

Borgman Netherlands/Belgium/Denmark (Director: Alex van Warmerdam) – Driven by the authorities from his underground hideout, the enigmatic Camiel Borgman is on the run. Covered in dirt, he arrives at Marina and Richard’s large suburban estate asking to use their shower, thus beginning a game of sly calculation as he insinuates himself into their home. He soon starts to manipulate the family with almost preternatural charisma as his more sinister plans make themselves known in this chilling demonic tale. Chicago Premiere.

Cheap Thrills USA (Director: E.L. Katz) – When down-on-their-luck buddies Craig and Vince are propositioned by insouciant wealthy couple Colin and Violet to perform increasingly risky dares, the cashstrapped duo agrees. Craig and Vince soon find themselves in the strangers’ living room, progressively degrading and debasing themselves and each other as the stakes get higher and higher. This twisted, darkly funny game of cat and mouse was the winner of the 2013 SXSW Audience Choice Award. Chicago Premiere.

Contracted USA (Director: Eric England) – When gorgeous lesbian Samantha has a drunken one night stand with a strange man, she contracts what she thinks is a sexually-transmitted disease. But the truth is far more disturbing. As her horrific condition worsens, her friends begin to fear for her… and themselves. A gory body-horror film in the vein of David Cronenberg, Contracted provides truly gut-wrenching, visceral terror. North American Premiere.

Go Goa Gone India (Directors: Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru) – A rollicking zombie rom-com, Go Goa Gone follows two stoner friends, Luv and Hardik, who are both having a rough time. In desperate need of a vacation, they tag along with their roommate Bunny on a trip to the gorgeous beaches of Goa. After following a beautiful woman to a remote island for a rave, they awake to discover the island’s population has turned into zombies. Along with a gun-toting Russian mobster, they must battle the undead hordes. Chicago Premiere.

Nothing Bad Can Happen Germany (Director: Katrin Gebbe) – One day, young Tore -a member of the “Jesus Freaks” Christian punk movement- meets Benno by the side of the road. Before long, Tore moves into a tent in Benno’s garden, gradually becoming part of his family. But Benno can’t resist playing cruel games designed to test Tore’s faith. As the violence becomes more and more extreme, Tore’s capacity for love is pushed to its limits in this disturbing, nihilistic drama. Chicago Premiere.

Raze USA (Director: Josh C. Waller) –  A young woman awakens in a concrete bunker, quickly discovering that she is not alone. Before she realizes what is happening, she is in combat for her life. So begins the first round of a modern-day gladiatorial tournament in which young women fight each other to the death at the whim of their sadistic unseen captors. If they lose, their loved ones will pay the price. Starring Tarantino’s go-to stunt woman, Zoe Bell, this gritty, ultra-violent tale pulls no punches. Chicago Premiere.

 

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