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Disappearing Act III

A SHOWCASE OF CURRENT EUROPEAN CINEMA. Disappearing Act, launched as an annual event in 2009, is a film showcase highlighting the vitality of European cinema. This year it presents 19 films that have made a name for themselves among critics and on the festival circuit, yet remain largely unknown to American audiences.

Disappearing Act, launched as an annual event in 2009, is a film showcase highlighting the vitality of European cinema. This year it presents 19 films that have made a name for themselves among critics and on the festival circuit, yet remain largely unknown to American audiences. Special guests: directors Srđan Koljevic, Filip Remunda, Ioana Uricaru and producer Sabine Schenk.

This year's industry panel discussion devoted to the issues facing foreign-language films and their access to American screens and audiences, a traditional part of Disappearing Act, will present the Subtitled Cinema Initiative. Chairing the panel will be Carlos A. Gutierrez, co-founding director of Cinema Tropical, joined by Oana Radu, deputy director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York; Delphine Selles-Alvarez, cinema program officer of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy; and John C. Woo, executive director of Asian CineVision.

The Subtitled Cinema Initiative is a loosely affiliated group of New York-based media arts organizations, government agencies, programmers and film festivals that are focused on the promotion of foreign language cinema in the United States. Since last year this group has been hosting informal meetings to discuss creative ways to foster new audiences for foreign language cinema, as well as to create new curatorial platforms for collaboration amongst the group’s members.
On the occasion of the Disappearing Act III program, the panelists will discuss innovative means of cross-promotion, cross-programming, and other modes of sharing the experience of watching and discussing films from around the world in the U.S., as well as the challenges and opportunities in the current and rapidly changing landscape of film distribution and exhibition.

Disappearing Act is curated and coproduced by Irena Kovarova; organized by the Czech Center New York and the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York in partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, the Consulate General of the Republic of Croatia, the Consulate General of Sweden in New York, the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Goethe-Institut New York, the Hungarian Cultural Center, Instituto Cervantes – The Cultural Center of Spain in New York, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Norwegian Consulate General, the Polish Cultural Institute New York, and with the support of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, the EYE Film Institute Netherlands, and the Slovak Film Institute.
An official project of EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture)
With support from the EU Delegation to the UN

Disappearing Act
III schedule
Reservations required for opening night via e-mail to info@czechcenter.com. PLEASE NOTE: Opening event (Film Czech Peace) at 6:30pm is full. We don’t accept reservations for this event at the moment.
Admission to other screenings on a first-come, first-served basis.

All films in original languages with English subtitles unless noted otherwise.

6:30 pm Czech Peace (Cesky mir, dirs. Vit Klusak and Filip Remunda, 2010, Czech Republic)
followed by Q&A with director Filip Remunda   PLEASE NOTE: FULL CAPACITY. We don’t accept reservations for this event at the moment.

9 pm Opening Party DJ nanoru
Reservations required for all opening-night events separately via e-mail to info@czechcenter.com

6:30 pm The Happiest Girl in the World (Cea mai fericita fata din lume, dir. Radu Jude, 2009, Romania)   
8:15 pm Lourdes (dir. Jessica Hausner, 2009, Austria, France, Germany)
6:30 pm Osadne (dir. Marko Skop, 2009, Slovakia)   
7:45 pm Troubled Water (De usynlige, dir. Erik Poppe, 2008, Norway)   

1 pm Come Undone (Cosa voglio di piu, dir. Silvio Soldini, 2010, Italy)
3:30 pm The Girl (Flickan, dir. Fredrik Edfeldt, 2009, Sweden)  
5:30 pm The Woman with a Broken Nose (Zena sa slomljenim nosem, dir. Srdjan Koljevic, 2010, Serbia) followed by Q&A with director Srdjan Koljevic
8 pm Home (dir. Ursula Meier, 2008, Switzerland)  
1 pm Dusk (Schemer, dir. Hanro Smitsman, 2010, The Netherlands)  
2:45 pm The Father of My Children (Le pere de mes enfants, dir. Mia Hansen-Love, 2009, France)  
5 pm Tales from the Golden Age (Amintiri din epoca de aur, dirs. Ioana Uricaru, Hanno Hofer, Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Popescu, 2009, Romania) followed by Q&A with director Ioana Uricaru
8:30 pm Bibliotheque Pascal (dir. Szabolcs Hajdu, 2010, Hungary)
6:30 pm Panel Discussion: Subtitled Cinema Initiative
8:15 pm Kill Daddy Good Night (Das Vaterspiel, dir. Michael Glawogger, 2009, Austria) introduced by producer Sabine Schenk
6:15 pm Me Too (Yo, tambien, dirs. Alvaro Pastor and Antonio Naharro, 2009, Spain)
8:15 pm Everyone Else (Alle Anderen, dir. Maren Ade, 2009, Germany)
6:30 pm The Blacks (Crnci, dirs. Zvonimir Juric and Goran Devic, 2009, Croatia)
8 pm Snow (Snijeg, dir. Aida Begic, 2008, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
7 pm Mother Teresa of Cats (Matka Teresa od kotow, dir. Pawel Sala, 2010, Poland)  


Film Descriptions (in screening order):

Czech Peace (Cesky mir, 2010, Czech Republic) 100 min; in Czech and English; nonfiction
Directed by Vit Klusak and Filip Remunda

This year again, Disappearing Act opens with a film about Czech politics—this time a "documentary comedy" on a more international topic: in 2007 the Czech government approved the installation of a U.S. antimissile system right in the heart of the country, on a site once occupied by another foreign superpower: during the Cold War, Soviet soldiers camped in the same area. The decision sparked the largest and most organized Czech protests since 1989, with unprecedented solidarity among groups ranging from traditional activists to heads of local governments and ordinary folks. Disapproval of the radar installation reached 70% among the country’s population. Directors Klusak and Remunda—whose first feature, Czech Dream, was a sensation both at home and abroad—document not only the anti-radar movement and the pro-radar side, but also the men behind the Czech-American deal. They bring the audience up close in the woods and streets that became a battlefield, but also to the White House and the back rooms of the Pentagon, starring Bush, Obama, and the like. Screening will be followed by Q&A with director Filip Remunda.


The Happiest Girl in the World (Cea mai fericita fata din lume, 2009, Romania) 90 min; in Romanian
Directed and co-written by Radu Jude

With Andreea Bosneah, Violeta Haret, Vasile Muraru, Andi Vasluianu, Serban Pavlu
For every teenager, the act of stepping out from your parents’ shadow and taking your own life into your hands is a trying time of life. For Delia, that moment comes when she disagrees with her parents on what to do with a car she wins in a lottery held as a marketing ploy for a soft drink. To Delia, the car represents freedom—from her parents and from her small town, so she can go study in the big city. Shooting the commercial she's required to make as part of winning the prize becomes more and more tedious with every take and every sip of the sticky soda she has to drink—while in between takes she bickers with her ever-controlling parents. This directorial feature debut of Radu Jude (who has a background in commercials but also served as assistant director on The Death of Mr. Lazarescu) premiered at Berlinale and traveled the world festival circuit, including Cannes, Toronto, London, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, and New Directors/New Films last year.


Lourdes (2009, Austria, France, Germany) 99 min; in French
Directed and written by Jessica Hausner
With Sylvie Testud, Lea Seydoux, Bruno Todeschini, Elina Loewensohn

A group of pilgrims, assisted by Order of Malta volunteers, travels by bus for the weekend to Lourdes. Several of them are wheelchair-bound, including the young quadrupledgic Christine. Her even younger assistant, Maria, one of the volunteers, is a constant reminder of the simple pleasures and opportunities in life that are out of reach for Christina. Only through a miracle could their roles reverse—and supposedly, miracles happen in Lourdes. But does a person like Christine, who confesses that traveling with pilgrims is her only way to see the world, deserve one? Sylvie Testud shines in the lead role with the quiet strength of her gaze. Hausner delivers in her third feature film a great comedy of manners, appreciated at festivals worldwide. A Palisades Tartan release.


Osadne (2009, Slovakia) 65 min; in Slovak; nonfiction
Directed by Marko Skop

In one of Slovakia's easternmost villages, on the border with Ukraine, unlikely alliances are forged for the sake of renewal. The village is slowly losing its inhabitants as young people flee for the city in search of jobs. The new Christian Orthodox priest, a young man of imposing stature, is set on turning the fortunes of his parish around. The village mayor who has been at the helm for over 30 years—which means he served under the Communists—becomes the priest's unlikely accomplice. They decide their only chance is to pay a visit to their representatives in Brussels and win funding from the EU. What results is a heartwarming and funny travelogue, which may or may not end in success. Director Skop brought home second prize for best documentary from Karlovy Vary IFF and other festivals.


Troubled Water (De usynlige, 2008, Norway) 115 min; in Norwegian
Directed by Erik Poppe
With Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen, Trine Dyrhold, Ellen Dorrit Petersen

A young man leaves prison after serving most of his sentence for killing a child. He returns to the town where it happened, which he left on the verge of adulthood. Finding refuge and a job as organist in the local church, it seems that when he befriends the priest—the single mother of a young boy who adores him—he may also be able to find forgiveness and peace of mind. This hidden gem of a film offers a powerful story with a remarkably complex screenplay and directing. Both leading actors shine with measured yet highly moving portrayals: Hagen in his lead feature debut, and Dyrhold in yet another standout performance as is  her turn in this year's Oscar winner for Best Foreign-Language Film. A Film Movement release.


Come Undone (Cosa voglio di piu, 2010, Italy) 126 min; in Italian
Directed and co-written by Silvio Soldini
With Alba Rohrwacher, Pierfrancesco Favino, Teresa Saponangelo, Giuseppe Battiston

A young woman who thinks she has everything she needs (good career, nice family, caring and loving partner) suddenly finds herself embroiled in a passionate love affair with a married man she meets in a restaurant where he waits tables. Her well-ordered life is suddenly thrown into a spiral of secret meetings, stolen moments of happiness, growing anguish, and piles of lies. The waiter's wife becomes suspicious and the lovers are faced with a decision that neither of them is ready to make. The luminous Alba Rohrwacher in the leading role is one of the most frequently cast Italian actresses of her generation, a testament to her acting prowess. “Soldini again crafts a handsome, well-considered relationship drama!” – Jay Weissberg, Variety. A Film Movement release.


The Girl (Flickan, 2009, Sweden) 95 min; in Swedish
Directed by Fredrik Edfeldt
With Blanca Engstrom, Tova Magnusson-Norling, Mats Blomgren

In a strikingly awkward decision, the parents of "the girl" (left nameless by the director) leave their 10-year-old daughter behind during summer vacation while they depart with their older son on a long-awaited trip to Africa (to be "useful to the needy"). The aunt they call to the rescue proves to be more than unfit to care for the girl and soon also departs, as the result of a plot devised by the girl who clearly sees her aunt as an obstacle to freedom. A series of encounters ensues in which unreliable friends and adults alike turn the girl’s house into a puzzling and dizzying world of solitude, until a stranger comes to her rescue (Krystof Hadek in a cameo role). One of the film's most striking features is the beautiful cinematography of Hoyte van Hoytema. An Olive Films release.


The Woman with a Broken Nose (Zena sa slomljenim nosem, 2010, Serbia) 105 min; in Serbian
Directed and written by Srdjan Koljevic
With Nebojsa Glogovac, Anica Dobra, Branka Katic, Nada Sardin, Jasna Zalica

The bridge between New and Old Belgrade serves as site for the encounter of this film's four protagonists: a taxi driver who picks up the woman with a broken nose, who jumps off the bridge, leaving a child in the taxi's backseat; a teacher on her way to class who tries to help the woman, but fails, and instead picks up another woman of her age who asks her boyfriend to stop his car and help, and when he refuses breaks her engagement to him and runs away. As the story unfolds, the similarities of the characters' lives emerges: all of them seem stuck, unable to move past the pain caused by events in their past. Koljevic, here directing his own script, also wrote the script of another powerful Belgrade drama, The Trap, a Film Movement release, which screened at BNH as part of the CINEMA BELGRADE series in October 2010. Screening followed by Q&A with director Srdjan Koljevic.


Home (2008, Switzerland) 98 min; in French
Directed and co-written by Ursula Meier
With Isabelle Hupert, Olivier Gourmet, Adelaide Leroux

This family of five—a stay-at-home mom, a working father, their confident young-adult daughter, a shy teenage girl, and an eight-year-old boy—live in a spacious house set right on the edge of a closed leg of a new highway. They use the road as their playground, parking lot, and resting place. It seems the highway may never open, until one day the workers come and the mother’s self-imposed seclusion in their out-of-the-way house becomes unbearable for the rest of the family. Isabelle Hupert’s remarkable acting choices help many smaller films to reach the spotlight. The cast, including Olivier Gourmet, the star of many Dardenne brothers' films, make this metaphorical drama a delight. A Lorber Films release.


Dusk (Schemer, 2010, The Netherlands) 91 min; in Dutch
Directed by Hanro Smitsman
With Matthijs van den Sande Bakhuyzen, Gaite Jansen, Robert de Hoog

Jessie likes Rico who is dating Frauk. She is a friend of Ilse, who dates Caesar, who is a friend and secret love interest of the closeted Mick. But Jessie is the one who pushes everyone's buttons. On the surface, a typical high school story. But what exactly turns a group of teenagers against one another? Or rather, would they even kill in cold blood? With an intricate script and assured ensemble performances, this teenage angst drama, which premiered at San Sebastian IFF, attempts to find an answer to these hard questions.


The Father of My Children (Le pere de mes enfants, 2009, France) 100 min; in French
Directed and written by Mia Hansen-Love
With Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Chiara Caselli, Eric Elmosnino, Sandrine Dumas

The story unfolds with a happy husband and wife and their young kids spending their summer holidays in a romantic house in the picturesque countryside. The busy father, a film producer, commutes back and forth from Paris, dealing with his demanding job and even more demanding directors. But as his company begins to collapse, the tone of the film turns somber and colors take on a darker hue. Based on the true story of an admired French producer, Mia Hansen-Love depicts the struggles of a man devoted to his work yet beloved by his family and friends, who carry on his project when he’s unable to do so himself. An IFC Films release.


Tales from the Golden Age (Amintiri din epoca de aur, 2009, Romania) 155 min; in Romanian
Directed by Ioana Uricaru, Hanno Höfer, Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Popescu
With Diana Cavallioti, Vlad Ivanov, Alexandru Potocean, Calin Chirila, Avram Birau, Ion Sapdaru

In a group of shorts set in the last decade under communism, five directors tackle six urban legends from the not-so-distant past, portraying betrayals both great and small while hitting hilarious as well as somber notes. All of the stories were penned by Cristian Mungiu, director of the acclaimed 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, which became an unexpected foreign-language hit of sorts, despite being snubbed by the American Academy in the Oscars nominations. The film premiered in Cannes and traveled the world at festivals. An IFC Films release. Screening followed by Q&A with director and editor Ioana Uricaru.


Bibliotheque Pascal (2010, Hungary) 105 min; in Hungarian, Romanian, etc.
Directed and written by Szabolcs Hajdu
With Orsolya Torok-Illyes, Andi Vasluianu, Shamgar Amram, Razvan Vasilescu

In order to regain custody of her daughter, whom she left in the care of her fortune-telling aunt, Mona must tell a social worker her story. The tale she spins—and the movie we watch—is a wild, surreal adventure in which people are able to project and enter each other's dreams, and the heroine is sold into slavery and lands in a swank, debauched Liverpool brothel where the patrons enact their literary/sexual fantasies with Lolita, St. Joan, and Desdemona. Rendered with dazzling tracking shots, striking CGI effects and a pulsing soundtrack, director Hajdu's risk-taking fantasia has style to spare. But under the seductive surface lurks the very human story of a woman who uses fantasy to cushion the pain of life.
 Summary by Los Angeles Film Festival “…the work of an imaginative filmmaker with ambition and chutzpah…” –Mike Goodridge, Screen International


Kill Daddy Good Night (Das Vaterspiel, 2009, Austria) 117 min; in German
Directed and co-written by Michael Glawogger
With Helmut Koepping, Sabine Timoteo, Ulrich Tukur, Itzhak Finzi

This film, based on a bestselling novel, begins with a telephone call: a pair of onetime lovers reconnect at the whim of a woman who calls from New York to invite her friend to come from Vienna right away and help her with a rebuilding project—the same sort of project that brought the couple together the first time, as students in Vienna. Without hesitation, the man sets off in his car to Munich to make the plane next day, setting in motion a sequence of events that will uncover secrets about the woman’s family she herself has never known. At end of the journey the man must decide if he can or cannot forgive a war-time criminal and reconcile with the hate he feels for his own father. Screening introduced by producer Sabine Schenk.


Me Too (Yo, tambien, 2009, Spain) 103 min; in Spanish
Directed and written by Alvaro Pastor and Antonio Naharro
With Lola Duenas, Pablo Pineda, Isabel Garcia Lorca, Antonio Naharro

At first glance, this is a typical romantic comedy. Daniel meets Laura. She’s attractive, rebellious, and a little trampy. They hang out, have fun together, and he falls hard for her. The unexpected part is that 34-year-old Daniel has Down syndrome. While Daniel is definitely extraordinary—a college graduate who holds sophisticated conversations—he still has to deal with others’ perceptions of him. As Daniel and Laura grow closer, their emotions take them into unfamiliar territory. Part of the pleasure of the film is watching two complex, playful characters on-screen—both Pablo Pineda and Lola Duenas inhabit their roles completely and are dynamic together. But what this film beautifully realizes is the unconventional relationship between these two unlikely characters. Summary by indieWire.com. An Olive Films release.


Everyone Else (Alle Anderen, 2009, Germany) 119 min; in German
Directed and written by Maren Ade
With Birgit Minichmayr, Lars Eidinger, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Nicole Marischka

Summer in Sardinia and a young German couple is spending their first holiday together. In fact they just barely met, but they have quickly become very close. The man, an aspiring architect staying at his mother’s summer house, is embarrassed by the house's clutter and lack of taste in decor. His girlfriend thinks the personal touch is endearing. As they stumble through increasingly bigger misunderstandings, the couple find themselves at a crossroads, and don't know which way they will choose to go. This meticulously timed and performed relationship microdrama, Ade’s first feature film, found fans from the moment it premiered at Berlinale, and made its way through festivals worldwide, reaching all the way to the New York Film Festival and a U.S. distribution deal. A release of The Cinema Guild.


The Blacks (Crnci, 2009, Croatia) 75 min; in Croatian
Directed and written by Zvonimir Juric and Goran Devic
With Ivo Gregurevic, Kresimir Mikic, Franjo Dijak, Rakan Rushaidat

Winter 1991. The recent war in Croatia. Although a truce has just been signed, the members of the “Blacks”—a paramilitary squad who were used to doing the dirty work—are preparing to retrieve the dead bodies of their fellow fighters and blow up a dam upriver to disable the enemy. They are still under siege when they hear from headquarters in Zagreb that, due to the ceasefire, their squad will now be disbanded. In the grim space of a school building serving as military HQ, we find Commander Ivo and his soldiers at the moment when the ceasefire on one side, and their suffering over the death of their friends on the other, opens up a slight possibility for each of them to “turn a new page” and move towards redemption, despite the moral boundaries that each of them has crossed. Summary courtesy of the film’s website. The film was last year’s Croatian entry to the Oscars, and won acclaim at regional European festivals.


Snow (Snijeg, 2008, Bosnia and Herzegovina) 100 min; in Bosnian
Directed and co-written by Aida Begic
With Zana Marjanovic, Jasna Beri, Sadzida Setic, Vesna Masic

Only women, children, and one old man remain in a remote Bosnian village, shortly after the 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia. We watch as they drive away the sorrow and pain of the loss of their husbands and fathers in the menial tasks necessary for survival, making jams and pickles from the fruits of the local gardens. Through their support for each other, they create an informal family. But their peace and camaraderie are disturbed when a pair of Serbian "money-men" offer to buy out the surrounding land, giving them a possible way out of the situation. Shot in long atmospheric takes, the film exhibits a quiet visual beauty, fortified by an effective script and strong performances. At its world premiere, the film received the Grand Prix in the Cannes Critic’s Week sidebar, spearheading its path to festivals around the world.

Mother Teresa of Cats
(Matka Teresa od kotow, 2010, Poland) 95 min; in Polish
Directed and written by Pawel Sala
With Ewa Skibinska, Mateusz Kosciukiewitcz, Filip Garbacz, Mariusz Bonaszewski

Two brothers—22-year-old Arthur and the adolescent Martin—are arrested for a serious crime. In this carefully scripted drama, the story unfolds entirely through flashbacks, peeling away the layers of events leading back to the crime and what preceded it. Along the way we learn how Arthur’s illusions of self-importance gave him control over Martin, and how their father’s indecision and absence from the family may have also contributed. Yet there is no simple explanation for the horrors the two boys inflict on their victim. Award-winning performances by Kosciukiewitcz and Garbacz (best known for their turns in All That I Love and Piggies, respectively), and the confident script, make the film a standout.


 Photo from Kill Daddy Good Night, dir. Michael Glawogger