The 2017 Chicago European Union Film Festival – Part 9

Every year in the month of March, the Gene Siskel Film Center hosts the Chicago European Union Film Festival. I’ll give capsule reviews of as many of the films as I can. All films are shown at the Film Center, 164 N. State Street, right across State St. from the Chicago Theater. See you there!

Part 7. Part 8.

 

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Romy Louise Lauwers and Aaron Roggeman in “My First Highway.” credit: Fobic Films

Kevin Meul’s feature film debut, My First Highway (Belgium, 2016) tells a seemingly typical coming-of-age story with some real tension and teeth. 16-year-old Benjamin (the impressively malleable Aaron Roggeman) is on a trailer-park beach holiday in sunny Spain with his family when he meets Annabel (Romy Louise Lauwers), the teen daughter of the owners of the local convenience store. The usual testing-the-waters flirtations ensue, but then things suddenly escalate, and we find ourselves in some pretty dark and thick film noir intrigue. On the surface, she’s quite manipulative, and he can be quite gullible, but Meul takes each of them to vaguer, and meaner, places. His script is surprisingly dialogue-free – he and cinematographer Menno Mans are quite good at using the visual narrative to express behavior, feeling and overall moods – showing us, rather than telling us, the story. There’s a shortcut here, a missed opportunity there and some dubious soundtrack choices, but overall this debut film leaves a strong impression. I liked it a lot.

“My First Highway” will be shown on Saturday, March 25th at 2:00 pm and Tuesday the 28th at 6:00 pm.

 

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Ksenija Marinković in “On The Other Side.” credit: interfilm.hr

Croatian star of stage, TV and film, the prolific character actress Ksenija Marinković has been featured in two films here at CEUFF. The first was the 2016 comedy All The Best (Sve Najbolje), a generally amusing but indifferently structured bit of Christmas fluff (that she was very good in). Her talents are put to far better use in the solemn but intriguing On The Other Side (S One Strane) (Croatia, 2016). Here Marinković portrays Vesna, a hard-working nurse-caregiver who receives a bolt from the blue one day; a phone call from her husband, Zarko (Lazar Ristovski). Zarko has been imprisoned for twenty years in The Hague for committing war crimes on the Serbian side of the Balkan civil wars, but is soon to be released. He’s eager to reconcile with the family, but that turns out to be a pretty tall order; they’d been shamed and devastated by his actions, and the now-adult children want nothing to do with him. Vesna is resistant as well at first, but a series of late-night phone conversations with him chip away at her empathy, and she considers a reunion. But the news of his release travels fast, and other agendas, both right-minded and sinister, start to emerge.

Veteran director Zrinko Ogresta, with co-writer Mate Matišić, tells an efficient story, only explaining snippets of the history while giving full expression to the emotional stakes for all involved. There’s a real contrast, scripted and visual, between Vesna’s work-driven days and the nights at home weighing her feelings and shared history with Zarko. It’s a well-measured, involving drama with a twisty and serious conclusion, quite well done, and highly recommended.

“On The Other Side” screens on Saturday, March 25th at 6:00 pm and Monday the 27th at 6:15 pm.

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The 2017 Chicago European Union Film Festival – Part 8

Every year in the month of March, the Gene Siskel Film Center hosts the Chicago European Union Film Festival. I’ll give capsule reviews of as many of the films as I can. All films are shown at the Film Center, 164 N. State Street, right across State St. from the Chicago Theater. See you there!

Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7.

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Ventzislav Konstantinov and Irena Ivanova in “Godless.” credit: tiff.net

Godless (Bezbog) (Bulgaria, 2016) is a bleak but rewarding first feature from director Ralitza Petrova. The film follows Gana (Irena Ivanova), a sullen and stone-faced caregiver for the elderly who’s been drawn into the casual corruption that seems to be endemic in many a small Eastern-European city. As well as pilfering drugs for her own recreational self-medication, she steals the state ID cards of her more addled patients, which are then used to create phantom corporations for money laundering, an enterprise administered by the very police investigators who are assigned to prevent it. If things become bothersome, the marks are arrested. If there’s further trouble, “accidents” are arranged. Just another cog in a generational wheel of criminal self-interest, Gana starts to long for her own capacity to love and be loved, and, inspired by one of her clients, a cranky choir director who had spent time as a political prisoner years ago, she starts to construct a way to extract herself from her situation. The film is lifted by the search for self-esteem and the possibility for redemption, but Petrova knows there’s no happy ending here, or even a conclusive one. Cinematographers Krum Rodriguez and Chayse Irvin throw some real visual sophistication into the usual air of grainy gray glumness that many of these films fall into. It’s kind of a hard watch at times, but it’s well worth the trouble. Recommended.

“Godless” will be shown on Sunday, March 19th at 5:15 pm and Thursday, March 23rd at 8:15 pm.

The 2017 Chicago European Union Film Festival – Part 7

Every year in the month of March, the Gene Siskel Film Center hosts the Chicago European Union Film Festival. I’ll give capsule reviews of as many of the films as I can. All films are shown at the Film Center, 164 N. State Street, right across State St. from the Chicago Theater. See you there!

Part 4. Part 5. Part 6.

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Paul Hamy in “The Ornithologist.” credit: blackmaria.pt

João Pedro Rodrigues’ The Ornithologist (O Ornitólogo) (Portugal, 2016) is a gorgeous and heady experience. A lone naturalist, Fernando (Paul Hamy), is camped alone deep in the Portuguese woods, studying birds and looking for rare species. A kayaking accident, however, turns his peaceful scientific idyll into a series of ordeals as he strives to work his way back to civilization. Much of what transpires on Fernando’s trek parallels Saint Anthony of Padua, the Portuguese saint canonized in the 13th century as a moving orator (he’s famous for once preaching to fishes to shame a town of heretics), a devout friend of the poor and the patron saint of lost things. But Rodrigues intersperses many of his own historical, mythical and autobiographical concerns as well, sometimes humorously, sometimes blasphemously, sometimes frighteningly, and as the film progresses, our grasp on how real ‘real’ is in these woods becomes a slippery and abstract thing. The last film of his I saw was 2012’s The Last Time I Saw Macao, another dreamy travelogue of a different sort, but Rodrigues has a much firmer grip on the narrative this time, which allows his creative conceits to be far more involving. Many references will float past the ordinary viewer, but it’s all so well-constructed, and so appealingly surprising from episode-to-episode, that very little of this will bother you. It’ll get a regular theatrical run, but this is a great opportunity for an early peek. I highly recommend it.

“The Ornithologist” will screen again on Thursday, March 23rd at 6:00 pm.

The 2017 Chicago European Union Film Festival – Part 6

Every year in the month of March, the Gene Siskel Film Center hosts the Chicago European Union Film Festival. I’ll give capsule reviews of as many of the films as I can. All films are shown at the Film Center, 164 N. State Street, right across State St. from the Chicago Theater. See you there!

Part 3. Part 4. Part 5.

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François Cluzet and Marianne Denicourt in “The Country Doctor.” credit: hallu-cine.net

The writer and film director Thomas Lilti is also a practicing doctor, a G.P., and he brings an authentic personal touch to his films. 2014’s Hippocrates was a fictionalized glimpse at his own internship experiences at a busy urban hospital, and was refreshingly contrivance-free. His most recent (third) feature is The Country Doctor (Médecin De Campagne) (France 2016), another admirably straightforward procedural concerning Dr. Jean-Pierre Werner (veteran François Cluzet), who has been driving to house calls and running his small provincial clinic, every day, for quite a few years. Recently diagnosed with a cancerous tumor, he’s advised by his doctor, Norès (Christophe Odent) to take it easier and perhaps get some help while receiving treatments, but, of course, he just throws himself into his work harder. When Dr. Nathalie Delezia (Marianne Denicourt), a comparatively inexperienced practitioner, appears to lighten his workload (at Norès behest), Jean-Pierre is accommodating but stern, begrudgingly content to let her learn things the hard way.

Between Dr. Werner and his relationship with his many patients, Dr. Werner and his new partnership with Dr. Delezia, and Dr. Werner and his own treatments with Norès, most directors would just plow through with TV plotting, arranging events with efficiency and expediency. But Lilti (with Baya Kasmi) has really crafted the screenplay to cover all of it: a lot happens over 99 minutes of screentime, but he refuses to short-change all of those small, character-revealing interactions and details that make it all resonate. Cluzet, Denicourt and the other actors are given room to stretch, and they’re all agile enough to make the most of what Lilti’s given them. Cinematographer Nicolas Gaurin does very nice, seamless work here as well, but there’s a strong hand on all of it. Love to watch pros work? Me, too. You’ll like this film, and I recommend it.

“The Country Doctor” will be shown on Friday, March 17th at 2:00 pm and Wednesday the 22nd at 6:00 pm.

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Cédric Kahn and Bérénice Bejo in “After Love.” credit: cinematographe.it

The French title of Belgian director Joachim Lafosse’s new film, After Love (Belgium, 2016) is L’Économie Du Couple, which gives a clearer idea of the self-imposed objectivity with which the unhappy couple here view themselves. Marie (Bérénice Bejo) and Boris (Cédric Kahn) have loved each other for a while, but there’s little of it left when we join them at the film’s beginning. Marie is from a fairly well-off family, but has worked steadily as well and is the primary earner. Boris has always been a journeyman carpenter and builder, and Marie didn’t mind picking up some of the slack while they raised their twin daughters, Jade and Margaux. But now things are souring quickly; she’d like to separate, but he can’t afford to leave until the flat they live in has been sold. Boris wants half of those proceeds – his renovations increased the value of the home, and their profit, even if Marie covered a larger part of the mortgage payments. This practical dichotomy – does her possession represent more value than the product of his work? – is where their arguments inevitably return, where their emotions inevitably divert; in the meantime,  they chip away at each other passive-aggressively, playing their friends and families off of each other and competing for the affections of their two (admirably resilient) girls. At times the constant friction can be oppressive, but Lafosse gives us a peek or two at the vestiges of passion that they initially brought to each other, and their mutual love for the kids is clear. The film’s no ray of sunshine, but its pleasures are in the detailed accuracy of Lafosse’s script (co-written with Fanny Burdino, Mazarine Pingeot and Thomas van Zuylen) and the involving performances of Bejo and Kahn. Practically the entire film happens in that apartment, but Lafosse and regular cinematographer Jean-François Hensgens find lots of visual variety there without easing up on a certain necessary claustrophobia. These fairly intense family problem-dramas can be tough, but some real authenticity and empathy has been brought to the work here, and I liked this film a lot.

“After Love” screens Friday, March 17th at 6:00 pm and Monday the 20th at 6:00 pm.

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Josef Hader and Aenne Schwarz in “Stefan Zweig: Farewell To Europe.” credit: dor-film.com

I’d certainly like to be more familiar with the work of Stefan Zweig, the Austrian writer who inspired, among other things, much of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. He was one of the most widely read European authors of the 20th century, but his many detractors found his work glibly lightweight. Ah, the blessing and curse of popular tastes…   Fearful of the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s, Zweig left his homeland for New York and South America. But Zweig made a practical point to never denounce Nazi Germany in public, much to the dismay of his fellow Jews in the world of arts and letters.  He nonetheless worked hard to help others escape Europe when he could, even as he grew to love his new home in Brazil. But eventually his, and his wife’s, despair over the state of Europe led to a tragic end.

I’d certainly like to be more familiar with the work of Maria Schrader; a really good German actress who works pretty consistently, she has also directed two other feature films besides today’s Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (Austria/Germany, 2016), and the other two are reportedly excellent as well. Collaborating with Jan Schomburg, her screenplay depicts six illustrative episodes in Zweig’s life, rather than following a rote chronology of strung-along events. It’s not a particularly novel approach, but it’s much harder to pull off, and Schrader’s film executes it superbly. An elaborate formal banquet, a politically-charged writer’s conference, a sugar-cane plantation, a New York apartment, a rural outdoor reception – Schrader’s command of the environments (Wolfgang Thaler’s camerawork is impressive), the characters and events within them and the larger meanings of each episode is unerring. She’s ably assisted by Josef Hader’s spot-on portrayal of the ferociously intellectual yet unfailingly gracious Zweig, as well as Aenne Schwarz as Zweig’s second wife Lotte and a consistently-led supporting cast. Another terrific film, and one of my favorites of the fest (with Slack Bay).

“Stefan Zweig: Farewell To Europe” will be shown on Friday, March 17th at 8:00 pm and Saturday, March 18th at 4:00 pm.

On Friday, director Maria Schrader, and tentatively actress Barbara Sukowa, will be present via Skype in an audience discussion moderated by Sara Hall, Associate Professor of Germanic Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago.

The 2017 Chicago European Union Film Festival – Part 5

Every year in the month of March, the Gene Siskel Film Center hosts the Chicago European Union Film Festival. I’ll give capsule reviews of as many of the films as I can. All films are shown at the Film Center, 164 N. State Street, right across State St. from the Chicago Theater. See you there!

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.

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“J: Beyond Flamenco.” credit: latidofilms.com

Flamenco, that southern Spanish art form incorporating dancing, singing and instrumental musicianship in culturally-crucial detail, has been masterfully presented, both as documentary and stylized fiction, by the great Spanish director Carlos Saura in a number of films over the last thirty-five years or so. His latest film, J: Beyond Flamenco (Jota) (Spain, 2016) returns him to the artistic styles of his more northern homeland, Aragon, following other explorations of Argentinean Tango, Portuguese Fado, and his Flamenco, Flamenco from 2010. Jota, as presented by Saura, seems to be a little freer in technique (there are specifics that define the style, though) – some Arabic Mediterranean and even ‘Oriental’ influences – but the movements seem more like folk dancing than urgent and rigorous expressions of Passion with a capital ‘P,’ and the style lends itself well to pairs, solos and groups. Saura sets all of the film’s short episodes on obvious studio soundstages, with simple visual backgrounds of color and image, projections and mirrors, and seamless camera movements that keep the focus on the superb performers. Also note the graciousness with which he treats the musicians here – it’s primarily a dance film, but the players are thrilling as well. This is a splendidly creative and engaging film, and, if you’re not already familiar with Saura’s dance films, this will be a great introduction. They’re unlike much else of what you’ve seen, and there’s an impressive back catalogue to pursue when, not if, you get hooked.

‘J: Beyond Flamenco) screens on Saturday, March 11th at 6:30 pm and Thursday, March 16th at 8:30.

The 2017 Chicago European Union Film Festival – Part 4

Every year in the month of March, the Gene Siskel Film Center hosts the Chicago European Union Film Festival. I’ll give capsule reviews of as many of the films as I can. All films are shown at the Film Center, 164 N. State Street, right across State St. from the Chicago Theater. See you there!

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

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Valeria Bruni Tedeschi in “Slack Bay.” credit: Kino Lorber

Never let it be said that French director Bruno Dumont doesn’t deliver the goods. I first encountered his work with Hadewijch in 2009 and Hors Satan in 2011, both of which are rigorous examinations of public morality, personal spirituality, private disciplines and how people are shaped, or betrayed, by insular communities. 2014’s L’il Quinquin pulls away from the focus on individual trials and tribulations and spreads out to examine a particular culture – provincial rural France, north, near Calais (the director’s own childhood haunts), but culturally and psychologically removed from any standard idea we might have of it. Dumont’s conceptions aren’t too far from David Lynch’s; it all looks familiar, even homey, but when conversations start and plots thicken something vaguely disturbing starts emerging from underneath it all. But lately, he’s been imbuing his stark and eccentric scenarios with a surprising streak of dry humor, and his newest film, Slack Bay (Ma Loute) (France, 2016), positively brims with pratfalls, slapstick, comical stereotypes, dual identities and some major-league scenery-chewing from some of the cast, while still maintaining some of the hushed mystery that lives in all his films.

So, not too far from L’il Quinquin’s milieu, there’s a bay that’s water-filled for the better part of the day, and walkable when the tide goes out, exposing the oysters and mussels that the Brufort clan then retrieve to make their modest living. Above the tiny fishing village atop a hill (with a panoramic view of the bay) is the opulent summer home of the Van Peteghems, as stuffy, snooty and twitlike as any family that might be envisioned by Monty Python or Evelyn Waugh. So imagine the delight and horror when a Brufort lad (Brandon Lavieville) takes a liking to a Van Peteghem lass (Raph). That is, if she’s a lass… but Love Will Out, right? Dumont typically uses non-professional and/or little-known talent, but has lately employed more well-known, more thoroughly-trained actors. Here it’s French pros Fabrice Luchini, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Juliette Binoche lurching, hopping, dancing, stumbling, mumbling, singing, howling and even levitating as the Van Peteghem family elders. The unpredictable interactions of the two families comprise the bulk of Dumont’s intriguing, and at times quite astonishing, film, but I wouldn’t dream of revealing much more than to say that there are also a series of murders afoot, with darkly and comically inept cops on the case (a familiar Dumont motif), and that the cinematic bluenoses (you know who you are, bless ya!) may take some umbrage at the casual ways that transexuality, incest and cannibalism are insinuated into the narrative mix. For the more adventurous filmgoer, I say this is an excellent, if not challenging, film that I highly, highly recommend.

“Slack Bay” will be shown on Saturday, March 11th at 4:00 pm and Thursday, March 16th at 6:00 pm.

The 2017 Chicago European Union Film Festival – Part 3

Every year in the month of March, the Gene Siskel Film Center hosts the Chicago European Union Film Festival. I’ll give capsule reviews of as many of the films as I can. All films are shown at the Film Center, 164 N. State Street, right across State St. from the Chicago Theater. See you there!

Part 1. Part 2.

Sergio Rubini and Renato Carpentieri in “The Stuff Of Dreams.” credit: comingsoon.it

Pernilla August’s A Serious Game (Den Allvarsamma Liken) (Sweden, 2016) is based on a classic  and beloved tragic romance novel of the early 1900s by Hjalmar Söderberg. Broke young journalist Arvid (Sverrir Gudnason) and painter’s daughter Lydia (Karin Franz Körlof) meet when Arvid’s editor Markel (Michael Nyqvist) pays a visit to the eccentric father, Anders Stille (Göran Ragnerstam), at their island home. Arvid and Lydia hit it off immediately, but the humble and practical Arvid discourages their coupling now in the hopes that their mutual fortunes will be more accommodating later on. But not too long after Anders’ passing, Lydia marries a wealthy older man, Roslin (Sven Nordin) and secures a content but ultimately loveless future. Meanwhile, after a few years of reviewing operas and other arts events for the newspaper, Arvid meets the Randels, a wealthy but unpretentiously friendly family, and their lovely daughter Dagmar (a very good Liv Mjönes). Dagmar’s family has no problem with Arvid’s humble origins, and, with the family’s encouragement, the two marry happily. But one night Roslin and Lydia go to the opera…

Being a fairly classic scenario, you can envision the series of dubious passion-driven choices made by our two married-to-others protagonists, and the subsequent messes made. Director August (and veteran screenwriter Lone Scherfig) do their damnedest to keep things fresh, urgent, passionate and sympathetic. The characters are nicely detailed and placed into a credible period context. The story is lucidly structured, there’s a good sense of how time passes from event-to-event, and the entire film is well-designed and shot. But the fairly classic scenario remains just fair. Perhaps the creators felt reined in by the specifics of the novel, but they needed to find a way to inject some real hot-bloodedness into these characters. Lydia, in particular, is given a variety of circumstances in the narrative to assert some real complexity, but she just ends up kind of diffuse and defeated. Arvid’s character ultimately suffers from the same malaise. It’s a shame with such an admirable first 40 minutes, but I really can’t recommend the film. Pernilla August and Lone Scherfig are pros who’ll bounce back in future projects, but this one was very disappointing.

“A Serious Game” screens on Friday, March 10th at 2:00 pm and Monday, March 13th at 6:00 pm.

 

Gianfranco Cabiddu’s The Stuff Of Dreams (La Stoffa Dei Sogni) (Italy, 2016) is a modest but smartly done hybrid, combining the outlines of Shakespeare’s The Tempest with the specifically Italian concerns of the political commedia of Eduardo de Fillippo in the 1920s and 30s. Like The Tempest, there’s a shipwreck, and a separated group of castaways. But here, the island is the prison island of Asinara, off the coast of Sardinia, and its Prospero is the prison’s warden, DeCaro (Ennio Fantastichini) who, of course, has a comely daughter named Miranda (Alba Gaia Bellugi). The castaways are a family theatrical troupe of four, led by the gracious and resourceful Oreste Campese (Sergio Rubini) with his wife Maria (Teresa Saponangelo), the older actor Pasquale, and his young daughter Anna. Along with them are three fugitive Camorra convicts who extort the Campese’s into letting them pass as fellow actors in the troupe. Being eventually rounded up by the prison police, Warden DeCaro requests the troupe perform, oh, y’know, what’s that Shakespeare play about the storm…? Can the Campeses pull it off without incurring the wrath of, or betraying, their dangerous impostor co-stars? The ferry’s here in five days – the show’s in four. Break a leg.

Written with Ugo Chiti and Salvatore De Mola, Cabiddu strikes a nice balance between his historically-altered homage and the specifics of the situations and characters that are important for him to convey as well, outside of Shakespearean model. Shot expertly by Vincenzo Carpineta, the play-within-a-play-within-a-film concept sounds laborious, but I was very pleasantly surprised here. It’s quite engaging, even charming, but he keeps some points and sharp edges around to keep the stakes credible throughout. Cabiddu seems to have taken some time off from the film biz before returning with this, his first since 2007. I highly recommend it.

“The Stuff Of Dreams” will be shown on Friday, March 10th at 6:00 pm and Wednesday the 15th at 8:15 pm.

 

Working her way past a very good showing in short films and TV, the director Miranda Bowen brings us her debut theatrical feature film Gozo (UK / Malta, 2015). Joe (Joseph Kennedy) and Lucille (Ophelia Lovibond) are on an extended holiday in Malta, on the small island of Gozo. They have the run of a relative’s big vacation house if they supervise some work being done. Lucille is content to be a tourist, especially upon discovering that the kinda-creepy-leering workers doing the plumbing don’t speak English. (Maltese is a Sicilian / Arabic blend that isn’t common anywhere else.) Joe is a sound engineer and recordist, and he occupies himself with making field recordings all around the island. But Joe is also trying to reconcile a recent tragedy, and tends to use his work to isolate himself. When days pass without any water being made available, or what water there is being unusably nasty, Lucille is left on her own to deal with it, making inquiries in town and befriending an American tending to his late father’s estate. And as Lucille moves forward in self-sufficiency, dealing with their expat’s House Of Usher, Joe seems to spiral, increasingly haunted…

Bowen’s film has some pretty good ideas; the narrative preoccupation with the person who won’t ever really be there, the discomfort and rigor of finding your bearings in foreign surroundings, the insistent symbolic motif of the water… But they’re awkwardly expressed – at times the unblended distinctions seem deliberate, but then something will happen to her that shouldn’t relate to him, or vice-versa. They’re both in denial, they each reach a crisis of sorts, but there’s no real structure or common thread to each of their conditions. When the mood’s right, the story’s off. When the story kicks in, the atmosphere’s indifferent.  Bowen can clearly tell stories well through cinematic means – her BBC Women In Love is reportedly excellent. Let’s perhaps dismiss this as an early screenwriting disappointment for her, and look forward to the other good work she’ll be doing in the future on someone else’s scripts.

“Gozo” screens on Friday, March 10th at 6:15 pm and Tuesday, March 14th at 6:00 pm.

 

Jenovéfa Boková, Martin Pechlát and Daniel Kadlec in “Family Film.” credit: endorfilm

Olmo Omerzu uses his second feature, Family Film (Rodinný Film) (Czech Republic, 2015) as an experiment in how far he can take a family apart and still have it remain intact in the end. Igor and Irena (Karel Roden and Vanda Hybnerová) have raised their two children in economic comfort, with obvious mutual love and trust between them all. As the film opens, the parents have decided to treat themselves to a weeks-and-weeks-long sailing adventure by themselves while the kids are still in school – they’ll fly to meet the parents for Christmas when school’s out. The elder daughter Anna (Jenovéfa Boková) seems to be the more responsible of the two – she dutifully keeps up her schoolwork while younger brother Erik (Daniel Kadlec) skips classes and works on his kickscooter form. But Anna has also invited her friend Kristýna (Eliška Křenková) over for an extended stay, and she’s a cooly corrupting influence on all involved. When Erik’s school absences become a major issue, Igor’s brother Martin (Martin Pechlát) intervenes on their behalf to smooth things over and straighten Erik up. And things seem to settle in better with Martin checking in regularly… except now they haven’t heard from Igor and Irena for quite a while…

Director Omerzu, writing his screenplay with Nebojsa Pop Tasic, starts the film off as a tamer version of Larry Clark’s Kids, but keeps adding enough unsettling but incisive detail to veer things more into Asghar Farhadi territory; our sympathies ebb and flow from person to person, especially when we become aware of the parents’ fate and events thereafter. Omerzu has a great sense of how family dynamics function, and how easily they can be subverted or even relied on; even the title expresses his arm’s-length objectivity, but he shows us genuinely compelling characters and situations. I liked this film a lot; Omerzu has given the narrative an intriguing shape, and Lukás Milota’s fashion-hazy digital camerawork is weirdly perfect. Make a point to catch it this weekend – I suspect, sadly, that it won’t be back.

“Family Film” will be shown on Friday, March 10th at 8:00 pm and Saturday, March 11th at 6:15 pm.

Actress Jenovéfa Boková will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.