We are pleased to present our third annual festival of New Films from Europe, featuring innovative new works from the continent. This year’s program includes a diverse slate of films that address questions of sexual, familial, and national identities in today’s European climate. Among the highlights are the controversial new work from France’s reigning enfant terrible, Gaspar Noé, and a new collaboration by veteran Swiss director Alain Tanner and actor-director Myriam Mézières. Both Noé and Mézières will join us in person for discussions of their respective works. The festival also highlights the work of such up-and-coming directors as Andreas Dresen of Germany and Geir Hansteen Jörgensen of Sweden.
The program for this year’s festival was assembled with the generous assistance of Claudia Hahn-Raabe, Christine Kodis, and Karin Kolb of the Goethe Institut, Boston; Eric Jausseran at the Consulate of France in Boston; Dino Siotis from the office of the Consulate General of Greece; Marianne Gerber of the Consulate of Switzerland; Paolo Martins from the General Consulate of Portugal; Gunnar Almér of the Swedish Film Institute; Graham Leggat of the Film Society of Lincoln Center; and Lucius Barre.
Actor-Writer-Director Myriam Mézières in Person January 17
January 17 (Friday) 7 pm
January 25 (Saturday) 9:30 pm
Directed by Myriam Mézières and Alain Tanner
Switzerland/France/Spain 2002, 35mm, color, 100 min.
With Myriam Mézières, Bruno Todeschini
French with English subtitles
After she murders her middle-aged lover, a fourteen-year-old girl reflects back on the bohemian life she shared years earlier with her mother, a free-spirited cabaret performer. Portrayed with searing intensity by writer-director Myriam Mézières, Lily attempts to elevate her performances from the level of erotic spectacle to artistic expression as she drags her young daughter from nightclub to nightclub and hotel to hotel, ultimately losing the child to the authorities. This most recent collaboration between veteran Swiss director Alain Tanner and the multi-talented Mézières explores the familiar territory of mother-daughter relationships, here tested to the extreme by the complexities of life on the fringes of society.
January 17 (Friday) 9:30 pm
January 21 (Tuesday) 7 pm
Directed by Dorothée Van Den Berghe
Belgium/Netherlands/France 2002, 35mm, color, 93 min.
With Charlotte Vanden Eynde, Els Dottermans, Frieda Pittoors
Flemish with English subtitles
Muriel, a working-class girl, decides to quit her job at the factory where her mother has worked most of her life and to end her relationship with her boyfriend. She moves to Brussels hoping to find work in an art museum and to engage in more exciting romantic pursuits than small-town life can provide. Van Den Berghe offers a sensitive and strikingly realistic portrait of her protagonist, played with quiet resolve by Charlotte Vanden Eynde. Equally compelling are the portraits of the girl’s older roommate, an aspiring singer who desperately wants to have a child, and the mother back home, who sees her daughter taking chances with life that she herself never dared. Van den Berghe raises thoughtful questions about female identity and the contemporary divide between urban and provincial life.
January 18 (Saturday) 7 pm
January 21 (Tuesday) 9 pm
Directed by Christos Georgiou
Greece/Cyprus/UK 2001, 35mm, color, 87 min.
With Akis Sakellariou, Myrto Alikaki, Stella Fyrogenni
Greek with English subtitles
In this thoughtful portrait of life in contemporary Cyprus—where separate Greek and Turkish sectors have been created by a U.N.–enforced Green Line—Christos Georgiou creates a road movie that traverses the psychological wounds the partition of the island has left on its population. Witness to the violence of the fighting after the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974, Lukas, a Greek Cypriot, now lives a reclusive life in the divided city of Nicosia. Unable to escape the memories of his childhood, he decides to embark on a journey to his native village, now in the Turkish sector. He enlists the help of Phoebe, a spirited young woman who also witnessed that era but embraces life by smuggling goods across the partition borders and trading with both Greeks and Turks. Along their journey, the couple is forced to confront their personal demons until a magical reconciliation with the ghosts of the island allows them to discover a path to the future.
January 18 (Saturday) 9 pm
January 19 (Sunday) 7 pm
January 27 (Monday) 9 pm
Directed by Geir Hansteen Jörgensen
Sweden 2000, 35mm, color, 137 min.
With Mike Almayehu, Michalis Koustogiannakis, Lia Boysen
Swedish with English subtitles
Originally produced as a miniseries for Swedish television, the theatrical version of this delightful road movie has played to critical acclaim at the Berlin and New Directors/New Films festivals. Two recent immigrants to Sweden—a teenaged Somalian boy who remains rosily enthusiastic about his adopted land despite horrific memories of the violence he has escaped and a dour, middle-aged Iranian, a political refugee who harbors less sanguine views about the new society he has entered—meet in an asylum camp and fear they may be deported. Deciding to escape in a rusty old car, the unlikely pair takes their chances in the Swedish countryside, meeting up along the way with a former "Miss Sweden," now fallen on rough times. The trio of outcasts encounters the good, the bad, and the ugly (and often the hilarious) of Swedish society along their journey, ultimately coming to terms with poignant issues of dislocation and identity in modern society.
January 19 (Sunday) 9:30 pm
January 24 (Friday) 9 pm
January 29 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Philippe Boon and Laurent Brandenbourger
Luxembourg/Belgium/France 2002, 35mm, color, 77 min.
With Albert Dupontel, Marie Trintignant, Serge Larivière
French with English subtitles
In this offbeat comedy from first-time writer-directors Phillipe Boon and Laurent Brandenbourger, Albert Dupontel stars as Jean, a modern-day repo man who serves society (or so he has rationalized) by seizing the goods of chronic debtors. The profession has caused Jean to become extremely thrifty, adding tension to his already chilly marriage. Nicole (Trintignant) develops a veritable shopping phobia as a result of her husband’s frugality—she can barely shop for groceries without undergoing an anxiety attack—and one of Jean’s friends, a true spendthrift, must cure her of this disability. The quirky screenplay and the hilariously deadpan performances of the talented cast combine to assist this sharp satire of modern-day consumerism.
January 22 (Wednesday) 7 and 9:15 pm
Directed by Fernando León de Aranoa
Spain/France/Italy 2002, 35mm, color, 115 min.
With Javier Bardem, Luis Tosar, José Ángel Egido
Spanish with English subtitles
After losing their jobs at a local shipyard, a group of friends tries to cope with the emotional and spiritual consequences of unemployment. Evoking both the neorealist Italian comedies of the 1950s and the more recent social realist works of Ken Loach, director León (Barrio, Familia) sets the story of these men’s lives against a grim post-industrial landscape, where the vivid cast of characters struggles collectively to maintain dignity in the face of overwhelming economic hardship. Javier Bardem solidifies his reputation as one of the great contemporary European actors in his portrayal of Santa, an indignant yet kind-hearted man raging against the broken promises of modern capitalist society.
January 24 (Friday) 7 pm
January 28 (Tuesday) 9 pm
Directed by Andreas Dresen
Germany 2001, 35mm, color, 105 min.
With Steffi Kühnert, Thorsten Merten, Axel Prahl
German with English subtitles
In this award-winning serio-comedy (the film took the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival), director Andreas Dresen collaborated with his ensemble cast to develop the story, pacing, and dialogue that create a lively roundelay of shifting marital mores. In the German city of Frankfurt an der Oder, near the Polish border, two couples in their late thirties have become unknowingly set in the banalities of their relationships. Chris, a drive-time radio deejay, is mildly distanced from his second wife, Katrin. His friend Uwe, owner of the bar and grill of the film’s title, has become neglectful of his wife, Ellen. When Chris and Ellen develop a little "thing" on the side and get caught in the act, the four characters become shaken from their stupor. Concerned with the small and intimate moments that make up life, Dresen’s film partakes of a textured immediacy and specificity that nonetheless opens onto universal themes of the human condition.
January 25 (Saturday) 7 pm
January 26 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Gaspar Noé
France 2002, 35mm, color, 95 min.
With Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel
French with English subtitles
Gaspar Noé divided critics and viewers with his unsettling debut feature, I Stand Alone. Irreversible makes no attempts to bridge that gap. Structured as a narrative in reverse (in the vein of Christopher Nolan’s Memento), the film begins with a revenge scene of extremely violent proportions. Marcus (Cassel) and his friend Pierre (Dupontel) desperately search a gay S&M club for the man who has violated Marcus’s girlfriend (Bellucci, Cassel’s real-life partner). Noé makes metaphoric use of space with dizzying transitions that reveal both the underbelly of life in Paris as well as the hostile intensity that emerges in an all-male environment—one of several points of controversy in the film. The rape itself is filmed in a single, stationary ten-minute take, forcing the viewer to confront the horror of the act and its irreversible consequences. Not for the faint-hearted, this virtuoso film is a fascinating example of cinematic control and viewer manipulation.
Due to graphic depictions of violence in this work, no one under 18 will be admitted.
January 26 (Sunday) 9 pm
January 28 (Tuesday) 7 pm
Directed by Fernando Lopes
Portugal/France 2002, 35mm, color, 83 min.
With Rogério Samora, Alexandra Lencastre, Rui Morrison
Portuguese with English subtitles
Director Fernando Lopes’s adaptation of the novel by José Cardoso Pires is an abstract parable set in Portugal of the late 1960s—a dissolute era suspended between the colonial wars and the imminent demise of the dictatorial Salazar rule. A wealthy landowner, "The Dauphin," enjoys a decadent life of hunting, drinking, and womanizing. He oversees his estate, the Laguna, with his barren wife, his one-armed manservant, and his treasured guard dog. When a sportsman (the film’s narrator) comes to the estate for his annual duck-hunting excursion, he discovers the body of the landowner’s wife floating in the lagoon and the manservant dead on his master’s bed. The Dauphin and his dog are nowhere to be found except for the mysterious barking sounds heard over the lagoon. This ambitious melodrama is deeply rooted in the political climate of the period and one of the few contemporary works produced by the Portuguese film industry.
January 27 (Monday) 7 pm
January 29 (Wednesday) 9 pm
Directed by Vincent Lannoo
Belgium 2001, 35mm, color, 86 min.
With Pierre Lekeux, Carlo Ferrante, Hélène Ramet
French with English subtitles
This latest work to adhere to the tenets of the Dogma 95 manifesto focuses on the strange goings-on at a fictional Brussels acting school. A film crew comes to chronicle the school’s fabled Open Door Theater Method, and through this conceit, director Vincent Lannoo creates a mock-documentary portrait of its egotistical and libidinal acting instructor, providing hilarious insight into the eccentric boundaries of dramatic education. Pierre Lekeux is effective as the lecherous and maniacal instructor who becomes increasingly terroristic. As he pushes the limits of his students, he forces the filmmakers-within-the-film to consider their own limits as documentarians.