Chicago Film Festival 2010
Main Competition Jury: Denis Dercourt, John Russell Taylor, Regina Taylor, Valery Todorovsky, Lucy Virgen


Golden Hugo:How I Ended This Summer, Russia, dir. Aleksei Popogrebsky
Special Jury Prize:A Somewhat Gentle Man, Norway, dir. Hans Petter Moland
We Are What We Are, Mexico, dir. Jorge Michel Grau
Best Actress:Trust, Liana Liberato
Best Actor:A Screaming Man, Youssouf Djaoro
Best Ensemble Performance:Brother & Sister, Argentina, dir. Daniel Burman
Best Screenplay:A Screaming Man, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Gold Plaque (Jury Prize):Career prize for director Márta Mészáros (Last Report on Anna)
Silver Plaque (Jury Prize):The Matchmaker, Israel, dir. Avi Nesher
DocuFest Competition*:Beautiful Darling, USA, dir. James Rasin
New Directors Competition*:Faith (Shahada), Germany, dir. Burhan Qurbani
Audience Choice Award**:Go For It, USA, dir. Carmen Marron
* These two awards are determined by separately constituted juries
** Voted by the public, and announced later than the other awards


Films I Saw at CIFF:
Leaving aside competition films I saw elsewhere, and usually later
Ranked in order of preference
 
My Golden Hugo
My Joy A (Ukraine/Germany, dir. Sergei Loznitsa) - Like Russian Ark dreamscape restaged as Wages of Fear-style suspenser, in mordant, purgatorial key of Romanian New Wave

Certified Copy A– (France/Italy/Belgium, dir. Abbas Kiarostami) - Disarmingly lived-in, even warm for a study of romantic skepticism and ambivalence; concepty, yes, but rings with truth

On Tour (Tournée) A–/B+ (France, dir. Mathieu Amalric) - Lifts Blowzy Troupe and Seedy Manager out of flat cliché. Vibrant, gangly, bristles with visual and sonic life.

How I Ended the Summer A–/B+ (Russia, dir. Aleksei Popogrebsky) - Beats even The Return for unusual but thick suspense. Strong actors and images, amazing sound design.

Love Like Poison A–/B+ (France, dir. Katell Quillévéré) - Subtle, unsettling coming-of-age drama, graced by wholly plausible sense of place. One of Chicago Film Festival's best!

The Robber B+ (Austria/Germany, dir. Benjamin Heisenberg) - Exquisite suspense, gripping scene structures. May not "say" a lot, but oh, to be in the grip of such formal chops!

Tuesday, After Christmas B+ (Romania, dir. Radu Muntean) - Rare infidelity drama to afford rounded viewpoints to husband, wife, and mistress. Delectably long takes.

Leap Year B (Mexico, dir. Michael Rowe) - This year's Caméra d'or winner elevates lurid premise, vague plot hinge with well-calibrated framing, tone, color (full review)

The Tree B (Australia/France, dir. Julie Bertuccelli) - Survives looming, 600-ton metaphor via color, energy of frames, acute observations. Key: resist reading end as "happy."

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives B (Thailand, dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul) - Offhand return of dead sister-wife a great moment, anchors swell first half, but film grows desultory, even hollow

Sex Magic: Manifesting Maya B (USA, dirs. Jonathan Schell & Eric Liebman) - Second half opens but shuts unsettling subplots; all along, though, a detailed, funny, unpredictable portrait of sex guru (full review)

Caterpillar B (Japan, dir. Kôji Wakamatsu) - Takes huge risk on relentless, blunt repetition. Not always in great taste, dulls over time, but really gripping stuff.

Heartbeats B (Canada, dir. Xavier Dolan) - Admittedly fine line between playful and hollow pastiche, but I found moods, colors, and sounds more engaging than not

Black Swan B– (USA, dir. Darren Aronofsky) - Frazzling dread, superbly lensed, good for shabby shocks—and yet a thin pillowcase of cliché, stuffed with cheap tricks (full review)

A Screaming Man B– (Chad/France/Belgium, dir. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun) - A bit blunt and lethargic, especially at outset, but gradually makes case for this approach; end has real impact

Rabbit Hole B– (USA, dir. John Cameron Mitchell) - Script changes a mixed bag. Gets richer as it goes, largely thanks to smart, well-cast actors. Welcome back, Nicole.

The Sentiment of the Flesh B– (France, dir. Roberto Garzelli) - "Shocking" last act surprises less than nervy, more abstract middle; solid but well short of In My Skin

Conviction C+ (USA, dir. Tony Goldwyn) - As single-minded as its heroine, ignoring heaps of context, but sibling bond, acting ensemble achieve humbling power

Family Tree B– (France, dirs. Oliver Ducastel & Jacques Martineau) - Pat ending, dogged motifs (faces looking out windows, to infinity) blunt a well-acted drama among very plausible clan

Black Field B– (Greece, dir. Vardis Marinakis) - Handsome but underfed 17thC drama, like Rescue Dawn between hunky Turkish deserter and, let's say, unusual Greek nun

If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle C+ (Romania, dir. Florin Şerban) - Has its moments, but adopts motifs of recent Romanian hits as dour tics. Holds viewers hostage.

The Housemaid C+ (South Korea, dir. Im Sang-soo) - Some pulpy energy and occasional smarts, but woozily over-directed, with nothing new to say. Jeon adds what she can. (full review)

The Next Three Days C (USA, dir. Paul Haggis) - Paul Haggis goes Tony Scott. Some sharply staged scenes (a broken key, a gasping passenger) but hobbled script.

Man at Bath C– (France, dir. Christophe Honoré) - Some tangible melancholy, but undisguisedly half-conceived. Honoré not gifted enough to sell drafts as ersatz films.

Sasha C– (Germany, dir. Dennis Todorović) - Funny-sad coming-out drama with blankish protag, aloof hunk, Ethnic Family That Isn't Ready; amiable but so overfamiliar (full review)

Amphetamine D+ (Hong Kong, dir. Scud) - Hmmm. Across the Universe for suicidal Asians? Lovers on the Bridge as gay karaoke-booth video? Unusual, at least.



Films from the Main Competition:
Full lineup available here (opens in a new window)
Listed alphabetically  •  Graded titles reviewed above
 
Asleep in the Sun (Argentina, dir. Alejandro Chomski)
Brother & Sister (Argentina, dir. Daniel Berman)
Certified Copy A– (France/Italy/Belgium, dir. Abbas Kiarostami)
Drunkboat (USA, dir. Bob Meyer)
How I Ended the Summer A–/B+ (Russia, dir. Aleksei Popgrebsky)
The Last Report on Anna (Hungary, dir. Márta Mészáros)
Mamas & Papas (the Czech Republic, dir. Alice Nellis)
The Matchmaker (Israel, dir. Avi Nesher)
My Joy A (Ukraine/Germany, dir. Sergei Loznitsa)
Nannerl, Mozart's Sister (France, dir. René Feret)
The Princess of Montpensier (France/Germany, dir. Bertrand Tavernier)
The Robber B+ (Austria/Germany, dir. Benjamin Heisenberg)
A Screaming Man B– (Chad, dir. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun)
A Somewhat Gentle Man (Norway, dir. Hans Petter Moland)
Sword of Desperation (Japan, dir. Hideyuki Hirayama)
Trust (USA, dir. David Schwimmer)
Tuesday, After Christmas B+ (Romania, dir. Radu Muntean)
We Are What We Are (Mexico, dir. Jorge Michel Grau)



Films from the New Directors Competition:
Listed alphabetically  •  Graded titles reviewed above
 
All Good Children (Ireland/Belgium, dir. Alicia Duffy)
Black Field B– (Greece, dir. Vardis Marinakis)
Erratum (Poland, dir. Marek Lechki)
Faith (Shahada) (Germany, dir. Burhan Qurbani)
Go for It! (USA, dir. Carmen Marron)
The Happy Housewife (The Netherlands, dir. Antoinette Beumer)
Heartbeats B (Canada, dir. Xavier Dolan)
Love Like Poison A–/B+ (France, dir. Katell Quillévéré)
Missing Man (Russia, dir. Anna Fenchenko)
The Myth of the American Sleepover (USA, dir. David Robert Mitchell)
Norman (USA, dir. Jonathan Segal)
The Sentiment of the Flesh B– (France, dir. Roberto Garzelli)
Skeletons (UK, dir. Nick Whitfield)
The Tree B (Australia, dir. Julie Bertuccelli)



Films from Outrageous (Queer Program):
Listed alphabetically  •  Graded titles reviewed above
 
Amphetamine D+ (Hong Kong, dir. Scud)
Beautiful Darling (USA, dir. James Rasin)
Family Tree B– (France, dirs. Olivier Ducastel & Jacques Martineau)
For 80 Days (Spain, dirs. Jon Garaño & José Maria Goenaga)
Heartbeats B (Canada, dir. Xavier Dolan)
Loose Cannons (Italy, dir. Ferzan Ozpetek)
Man at Bath C– (France, dir. Christophe Honoré)
Postcard to Daddy (Germany, dir. Michael Stock)
Sasha C– (Germany, dir. Dennis Todorović)



More Films I'm Most Curious to See:
Full lineup not yet available, but sneak preview here (opens in a new window)
Listed alphabetically  •  Graded titles reviewed above
 
Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (UK, dir. Craig McCall)
Cold Weather (USA, dir. Aaron Katz)
Copacabana (France/Belgium, dir. Marc Fitoussi)
The Defiled (USA, dir. Julian Grant)
Michel Ciment: The Art of Sharing Movies (France, dir. Simone Lainé)
La nostra vita (Our Life) (Italy, dir. Daniele Luchetti)
Of Love and Other Demons (Costa Rica/Colombia, dir. Hilda Hidalgo)
The Place in Between (France/Burkina Faso, dir. Sarah Bouyain)
Red Hill (Australia, dir. Patrick Hughes)
Revolución (Mexico, dir. Miscellaneous)
Southern District (Bolivia, dir. Juan Carlos Valdivia)
Tehroun (Iran/France, dir. Nader T. Homayoun)
Tony and Janina's American Wedding (USA/Poland, dir. Ruth Leitman)
Waste Land (UK/Brazil, dir. Lucy Walker)


Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing films are Stone (USA, Curran), 127 Hours (USA/UK, Boyle), and The Debt (USA, Madden), respectively

Special and Gala Presentations include Black Swan (USA, Aronofsky), Conviction (USA, Goldwyn), Fair Game (USA, Liman), Hereafter (USA, Eastwood), Legacy (UK/Nigeria, Ikimi), Made in Dagenham (UK, Cole), The Next Three Days (Surprise Film; USA, Haggis), Rabbit Hole (USA, Mitchell), Red (USA, Schwentke), Revolución (Mexico, Misc.), Tamara Drewe (UK, Frears), and The Tempest (USA, Taymor)

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