25th Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival begins this week

As the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center prepares for its 25th Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival (CEUFF), they pause to pay tribute to the people of the Ukraine.

Our thoughts and hearts turn to Ukraine as we prepare to open our 25th EU Film Fest: Ways to Help

Dear Movie Lover,

✨🇪🇺 As the Gene Siskel Film Center prepares to open its 25th Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival this week, our hearts and minds turn to the violent invasion of EU neighbor Ukraine. As part of the global community, we are heartsick for the millions suffering from the Russian invasion of this sovereign nation. We are encouraged by the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people and recognize their need for support. The Film Center staff asks our movie-loving community to join with us in supporting one of the organizations listed below:

🇺🇦Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund
🇺🇦International Rescue Committee
🇺🇦Voices of Children

Wishing for a safe and swift return to democracy in Ukraine.

In solidarity,

The Gene Siskel Film Center staff 💛💙

After a COVID-truncated 2020 festival and a scaled-down, virtual festival in 2021, CUEFF returns for its 25th year as a curated, two-week, in-person festival bringing the vibrant cultures of Europe to life through 19 new films from 20 EU member nations. The festival will feature 11 feature film debuts, 12 films directed or co-directed by women, and several (virtual and in-person) director appearances.

“International cinema has always provided a window to the world – introducing audiences to new ideas and perspectives,” says Film Center Director of Programming Rebecca Fons. “After two years of limited (or nonexistent) travel, the canceling of planned adventures, and the experience of being globally connected only through the COVID-19 crisis, the CEUFF lineup provides a much-needed infusion of  international stories, cultures and attitudes. 2020 CEUFF was cut short mid-festival. It is our pleasure to welcome it back in an updated format, as a two-week, focused slate of Chicago premieres, anticipated titles, and hidden gems.” 

“The Chicago European Union Film Festival is where many people first discovered the Film Center and fell in love with international cinema,” says Jean de St. Aubin, Executive Director of the Film Center. “Over the past 25 years it has grown to become a favorite of the Film Center audience, and we are delighted to once again invite you to join us as we cinematically travel throughout Europe.”


The 25th Annual CEUFF by the numbers:

  • 19 films from 20 EU countries
  • 11 feature debuts
  • 11 films directed or co-directed by women
  • Directors range in age from 32 to 50, with 8 directors under the age of 40

Tickets for regular film presentations are $12, with Film Center members paying only $6 per ticket. Students with valid school ID pay $7, and SAIC students, staff, or faculty pay $5 for regular film presentations.

Individual tickets to the 25th Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival are available for purchase starting Friday, February 11, at 11:00am.

COVID-19 Protocols

The Film Center requires a valid photo ID and proof of full vaccination for all screenings and events at the Film Center. 😷 Masks are also required at all times. Please visit “COVID-19 Protocols” on our website for updates and full details. Protocols are subject to change. 

The following is a list of the complete 25th Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival line-up:

Select in-person screenings will include (virtual or theatrical) filmmaker Q&As, as noted in green. Visit siskelfilmcenter.org for updates and confirmations. 

CEUFF kicks off March 4 with the Film Center’s Opening Night, Chicago-premiere presentation of Xavier Giannoli’s sumptuous and provocative LOST ILLUSIONS, from EU president-nation France. The star-studded movie, presented in partnership with the Consulat Général de France, features Benjamin Voisin, Cécile de France, Xavier Dolan and Gérard Depardieu.

Chicago European Union Film Festival

Chicago premiere


Friday, March 4, 7:00PM

2021, dir. Xavier Giannoli

France, Belgium, 149 min.

In French with English subtitles / Format: Digital

In Giannoli’s sumptuous and witty adaptation of the Honoré de Balzac novel, Lucien is a young, unknown poet in 19th-century France who leaves the family printing house to try his luck in Paris. Left to fend for himself, Lucien quickly discovers the cynical and cutthroat world of art and commerce, where everything – success, power, reputation and fame – can be bought or sold. 

Chicago European Union Film Festival

Chicago premiere


Thursday, March 17 – 8:00PM
2021, dir. Fernando León de Aranoa
Spain, 120 min.
In Spanish with English subtitles / Format: Digital 

Blanco, the charismatic owner of a family-run factory, is under pressure as he covets a local award for business excellence. But the veneer of the perfect company cracks as Blanco has to deal with a vengeful fired worker, a depressed supervisor, and an infatuated, ambitious intern. To win the competition, the manipulative “good boss” shamelessly meddles in his employees’ private lives and crosses every line imaginable, unknowingly starting an explosive chain reaction with wild consequences. 

Chicago European Union Film Festival

Chicago premiere


Saturday, March 5, 6:00PM
2021, dir. Laura Wandel
Belgium, 72 min.
In French with English subtitles / Format: Digital
The everyday reality of grade school is seen as an obstacle course of degradation and abuse, as 7-year-old Nora and her big brother Abel struggle to fit in and find their place on the schoolyard. Transposing the gritty realism of such filmmakers as Jacques Audiard and the Dardennes Brothers to the inner world of kids, PLAYGROUND is a visceral portrait of the cruelty of children, and the failure of adults to protect them. 

Chicago European Union Film Festival

Chicago premiere


Saturday, March 5, 8:15PM
2022, dir. Hanna Bergholm
Finland, Sweden, 86 min.
In Finnish with English subtitles / Format: Digital
12-year-old Tinja is desperate to please her mother, a woman obsessed with presenting the image of a perfect family. One night, Tinja finds a strange egg. What hatches is beyond belief. 

Chicago European Union Film Festival

Chicago premiere


Sunday, March 6, 1:00PM
2021, dirs. Vesela Kazakova, Mina Mileva
Bulgaria, France, 107 min.
In Bulgarian with English subtitles / Format: Digital
After a life-altering medical diagnosis, Sonja (Maria Bakalova, breakout star of BORAT 2) is surrounded by the women in her family, who are linked by the common enemies of misogyny and inequality. Based on a true story, this defiant and surprisingly funny drama explores the bonds of family and the resilience of hope. 

Chicago European Union Film Festival

Chicago premiere


Sunday, March 6, 5:15PM
2021, dir. Jonas Bak
Germany, France, Hong Kong, 79 min.
Exclusive pre-recorded director Q&A! (tentative)
In English, German and Cantonese with English subtitles / Format: Digital
In Bak’s contemplative and meditative debut, recent retiree Anke looks forward to reuniting with her children over the summer holidays. When her son Max is unable to join because of protests that are bringing Hong Kong, where he lives, to a standstill, she decides to visit him there instead, ushering in a new chapter of her life. 

Chicago European Union Film Festival


Monday, March 7, 8:15PM
2020, dir. Eugen Jebeleanu
Romania, 82 min.
In English, Romanian and French with English subtitles / Format: Digital 

Christi, a member of the Bucharest police force, must cut short a reunion with his long-distance boyfriend when he is called in to quell a protest at a local movie theater, where a far-right group has interrupted the screening of a queer film. As tensions mount, a violent outburst forces Christi to confront the contradictions between his personal and professional life. 

Chicago premiere


Wednesday, March 9, 6:00PM
2021, dir. Tea Lindeburg
Denmark, 85 min.
In Danish with English subtitles / Format: Digital
In Lindeburg’s ethereal and haunting debut, 14-year-old-Lise is a farmer’s daughter, the eldest of her siblings and the first in her family to go to school. When her mother goes into complicated labor, Lise’s dreams are threatened by superstition, ignorance and fear. 

Thursday, March 10, 8:00PM
2021, dirs. Maureen Fazendeiro & Miguel Gomes
Portugal, 102 min.
In Portuguese and Romanian with English subtitles / Format: Digital 

Three close friends Crista, Carloto and João – along with the entire film crew – become the protagonists of a cinematic experiment shot during lockdown. Delve into the colorful world of one of the most playful films of the pandemic for which personal restrictions provided a source of inspiration and pure joy in the creative process.

Chicago premiere


Friday, March 11, 6:00PM
2021, dir. Ivan Ostrochovský
Slovakia, Romania, Czech Republic, Ireland, 81 min.
In Slovak with English subtitles / Format: Digital
In Czechoslovakia, 1980, the Communist regime demanded allegiance from all its subjects, including the clergy. With a seminary on the brink of dissolution, and its head priest a target for blackmail, Michal and Juraj, two novitiates, must choose between collaborating with the government as informants, or becoming targets of the secret police. 

Chicago premiere


Friday, March 11, 8:15PM
2020, dir. Dace Pūce
Latvia, Finland, 107 min.
In Latvian with English subtitles / Format: Digital
In this drama based on the stories of Latvian writer Jana Egle, Markuss must adapt to a new life living with his grandmother in the countryside. After the neighbor’s daughter Emīlija insults his deceased father, Markuss decides to teach her a cruel lesson. 

Chicago premiere


Saturday, March 12, 1:00PM

2021, dir. Ildikó Enyedi

Hungary, Germany, France, Italy, 169 min.

In English, French, Dutch, German and Italian with English subtitles / Format: Digital

Acclaimed director Ildikó Enyedi (MY 20TH CENTURY, ON BODY AND SOUL) returns with this lush romance adapted from Milán Füst’s novel. Jakob Störr (Gijs Naber), a seasoned sea captain, makes a bet in a café to marry the first woman who enters the place, and in walks Lizzy (Léa Seydoux). 

Chicago premiere

Saturday, March 12, 6:30PM

Director Giedrė Žickytė is scheduled to attend.
2020, dir. Giedrė Žickytė

Lithuania, Latvia, France, Germany, US, 84 min.
In English and Lithuanian with English subtitles / Format: Digital 

In 1970, just off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Lithuanian sailor and would-be defector Simas Kudirka jumped off his Soviet vessel aboard a US coast guard cutter, asking for asylum. His leap for freedom set off a chaotic series of events, leading to one of the biggest political muddles during the Cold War. 

Chicago premiere


Saturday, March 12, 9:00PM

Exclusive pre-recorded director Q&A! (tentative)
2021, dir. Kate Dolan
Ireland, 93 min.
In English / Format: Digital 

Char’s mother Angela has disappeared. When she returns home without explanation, and her behavior becomes increasingly frightening, it becomes clear that something is amiss. When Halloween arrives, a night steeped in myth and legend, Char realizes that she is the only one who can save her mother from a sinister, malevolent force. 

Chicago premiere


Sunday, March 13, 1:00PM
2021, dir. David Ondříček
Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, 131 min.
In English and Czech with English subtitles / Format: Digital
In this captivating biopic, winner of the Audience Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Olympiad Emil Zátopek – the “Czech Locomotive” – is visited by a fellow runner seeking guidance. As Zátopek imparts his wisdom, we are transferred to the past, to the evolutions of his illustrious career, his relationship with wife Dana – a javelin thrower – and the pressures he experienced both on and off the track. 

Chicago premiere


Sunday, March 13, 4:00PM

2020, dir. Jacqueline Lentzou, Greece, France, 108 min.

In English and Romanian and French with English subtitles / Format: Digital 

Artemis tentatively returns to Athens to care for her ailing, estranged father, Paris. As she intimately cares for the stoic, near-wordless Paris, she tries to understand this man she never really knew. When she discovers a well-kept secret from her father’s past, Artemis begins to not only better understand a complicated man, but the underlying love coursing through their complicated relationship. 

Chicago premiere


Sunday, March 13, 6:45PM
2021, dir. Mauro Russo Rouge
Italy, 88 min.
In Italian with English subtitles / Format: Digital
Hermes and Betta are a middle-aged Italian couple who run the neighborhood pet store by day, and engage in sexual encounters with multiple partners by night. As swingers, this loving and deeply entwined couple allows one another to freely explore their desires with trust and respect. But even the deepest relationships and strongest connections are at times tested.

Chicago premiere


Tuesday, March 15, 7:30PM

Exclusive pre-recorded director Q&A! (tentative)
2021, dir. Joke Olthaar
Netherlands, Slovenia, 79 min.
In Czech, Croatian and Hungarian with English subtitles / Format: Digital
In this breathtaking, black and white cinematic meditation, three hikers climb a mountain. Traversing snowy valleys and majestic peaks, the trio are merely dots on the powerful landscape, as the mountain groans and sighs under their feet. 

Chicago premiere

Wednesday, March 16, 7:30PM

Exclusive pre-recorded director Q&A! (tentative)
2021, dir. Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović
Croatia, Brazil, USA, Slovenia, 92 min.
In English, Croatian and Spanish with English subtitles / Format: Digital 

Against the tranquil background of blue skies and the Adriatic sea, tensions rise between the defiant teenager Julija and her oppressive father Ante. When an old family friend visits, he provides a taste of liberation over a weekend laid bare to desire and violence. 

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