Disappearing Act II
A Showcase of Current European Cinema
April 8–17, 2010
Czech Center New York
Includes 17 contemporary films from 11 European countries presented in partnership with 9 European cultural and governmental institutes in New York.
Q&A with director Robert Sedlacek (April 8 & 10)
Panel discussion on April 12 chaired by Eugene Hernandez.
Reservations required for opening night and panel discussion via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission to other screenings on a first-come first-served basis.
Disappearing Act II schedule
All films in original languages with English subtitles unless noted otherwise.
Disappearing Act II schedule:
Admission free. All films in original languages with English subtitles unless noted otherwise.
Thursday, April 8
6:30 pm Men in a Rut (Men in a Rut, dir. Robert Sedlacek, 2009, Czech Republic)
followed by Q&A with the director
9 pm Opening Party
Reservations required for all opening night events separately via e-mail to email@example.com
"DJ Nanoru will mix the music and the program curator will mix special Czech cocktails, until supply last... Don't come late..."
Supported by PILSNER URQUELL
Friday, April 9
7 pm Father's Acre (Apafold, dir. Viktor Oszkar Nagy, 2009, Hungary)
8:45 pm Rene (dir. Helena Trestikova, 2008, Czech Republic)
Saturday, April 10
3 pm The Secret of the Grain (La Graine et le Mulet, dir. Abdellatif Kechiche, 2007, France)
6 pm The Invisible Frame followed by Cycling the Frame (2009 and 1988, both dir. Cynthia Beatt, Germany)
8 pm Men in a Rut (Muzi v riji, dir. Robert Sedlacek, 2009, Czech Republic)
followed by Q&A with the director
Sunday, April 11
1:45 pm Hooked (Pescuit sportiv, dir. Adrian Sitaru, 2007, Romania)
Monday, April 12
6:30pm Panel Discussion: "The New World Distribution for Subtitled Films," chaired by Eugene Hernandez, with Ryan Werner, Meghan Wurtz, and Carlos A. Gutierrez
Reservations for panel discussion via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
8:45 pm Summer Holiday (Boogie, dir. Radu Muntean, 2008, Romania)
Tuesday, April 13
6:15 pm God’s Offices (Les Bureaux de Dieu, dir. Claire Simon, 2008, France)
8:30 pm Camino (dir. Javier Fesser, 2008, Spain)
Wednesday, April 14
6:30 pm Lesson 21 (Lezione 21, dir. Alessandro Baricco, 2008, Italy)
8:15 pm Revanche (dir. Götz Spielmann, 2008, Austria)
Thursday, April 15
6:30 pm Moon Inside You (Mesiac v nas, dir. Diana Fabianova, 2009, Slovakia)
8:15 pm Jerichow (dir. Christian Petzold, 2008, Germany)
Friday, April 16
6:30 pm A Call Girl (Slovenka, dir. Damjan Kozole, 2009, Slovenia)
8:15 pm Cooking History (dir. Peter Kerekes, 2008, Slovakia)
Saturday, April 17
6 pm Carmen of the North (Carmen van het noorden, dir. Jelle Nesna, 2009, The Netherlands)
Disappearing Act II
The series features seventeen contemporary European films, from Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and The Netherlands. The series is curated by Irena Kovarova and organized by the Czech Center New York in partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, the Consulate General of Slovenia, the Consulate General of the Slovak Republic with the support of the +421 Foundation, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Goethe-Institut New York, the Hungarian Cultural Center, Instituto Cervantes New York, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Romanian Cultural Institute, and with the support of Holland Films.
n response to the frequent discussions of the changing film distribution field, the program will include a panel on April 12, titled "The New World Distribution for Subtitled Films". In the previous year, a similar panel chaired by Richard Pena with guests from the media and film exhibition field (A.O. Scott, John Vanco, Florence Almozini, Eugene Hernandez and Jytte Jensen) discussed the discoveries and legacies of cinematic "New Waves" and the topic of access of foreign language films to American screens in general. (A video recording of this discussion is available at www.czechcenter.com/disappearing_act/panel.) This year, the panelists will explore the uneasy path of foreign language films to US distribution or other presentation means, including the topics of hybrid distribution models, role of promotional bodies, and direct participation of filmmakers. The panel will be chaired by Eugene Hernandez, editor in chief and cofounder of indieWire.com, who will be joined by Ryan Werner, vice president of marketing at IFC Films, Meghan Wurtz, vice president at Film Movement, and Carlos A. Gutierrez, co-founding director of Cinema Tropical.
Among the highlights of the program are international festival favorites Cooking History, Hooked and Rene, along with modern masterpieces that have already received U.S. distribution though the audience needs to be reminded of their right to a bright spotlight: The Secret of the Grain and Revanche. Also on the program are somber gems such as Jerichow, A Call Girl, Father's Acre, God's Offices, Summer Holiday (a.k.a. Boogie), and Camino. The entire program however is comprised of films that deserve the attention of a much wider audience than they have reached so far. Details on each film follow the screening schedule.
Film Descriptions (in screening order):
Men in a Rut (Muzi v riji, dir. Robert Sedlacek, 2009, Czech Republic) 120 min; in Czech
Directed and co-written by Robert Sedlacek
With Martin Huba, Jaromir Hanzlik, Jiri Labus, and Pavel Zednicek
This raucous comedy of communal politics is the second fiction feature of a talented filmmaker, a student of the enfant terrible of Czech non-fiction cinema Karel Vachek (whose other students Vit Klusak and Fillip Remunda directed the provocative Czech Dream). In a village that is so remote that even the road ends there, the locals decide that it's time to get their dream of a new highway realized by bringing the attention of national politicians to their village in any way possible. They decide that their key to success is their local introvert, a national deer-calling champion, and they organize a European deer-calling championship with the prime minister as a guest. One is soon to realize, that the deer-calling enterprise is very close to any political campaign, yet much more laughable. Both of the film screenings will be followed by a Q&A with the director.
Father's Acre (Apafold, 2009, Hungary) 79 min; in Hungarian
Directed, written and edited by Viktor Oszkar Nagy
With Janos Derzsi, Andrea Nagy, and Tamas Ravasz
An oedipal story shot in the best of Hungarian cinema traditions and in a visually stunning style, this film marks an impressive entry on the film stage by a young debuting director. A father returns from prison to his village home in hopes of reconnecting with his son after a long absence. The teenager, long used to fending for himself after his mother passed away, has no respect for his father. Their silent tandem tending to an acre of field the father acquired to turn both of their lives around, results in an impressive vineyard, but the reconnection faces hurdles that are hard to overcome. Winner of the foreign critics award at the 2009 Hungarian Film Week, Nagy convinces with his confident direction of actors including Derzsi, a veteran of many Bela Tarr's films, in the leading role.
Rene (2008, Czech Republic) 90 min, in Czech, non-fiction
Directed by Helena Trestikova
This raw documentary tells the story of Rene Plasil whose life has been captured on camera since he was seventeen. Trestikova, who specializes in long-form observational documentaries, follows his journey for over 20 years, between stints in prison and brief periods outside the prison walls. In 2008 the film comes to an end, leaving the charismatic and bright 37-year-old Rene diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and still getting into trouble with the law, but he is also the author of two published books. For this film, Trestikova received the Prix Arte for the Best European Documentary of the Year from the European Film Academy (competing with Man on Wire). Last year Trestikova also won the Media European Talent Award at Cannes for her next project, Miracle, which follows a now 35-years old man from his birth. Rene was presented in numerous festivals around the world (including HotDocs and SXSW) garnering multiple awards.
The Secret of the Grain (La Graine et le Mulet, 2007, France) 151 min, in French, Arabic, and Russian
Directed and written by Abdellatif Kechiche
With Habib Boufares, Hafsia Herzi, Farida Benkhetache, and Bouraouia Marzouk
This tale of a French-Tunisian immigrant family making the ends meet in a French Mediterranean port around the disappearing fishing industry is simply a masterful piece of cinema. The grain of the title – couscous – and fish are the traditional Sunday meal expertly cooked by the former wife of the patriarch of a large family, who supplies the fish but never comes to share the meal. Facing an imminent lay-off from the docks, he makes a plan to open a family restaurant great encouragement and support from the daughter of his current partner. To convince the immigrant averse bureaucrats to approve his plans, he invites them for a free dinner with musical entertainment. To quote the critics: "Kechiche's bustling and brilliant film" (A.O. Scott) ... "never slows, always engages, may continue too long, but ends too soon" (R. Ebert). It's an experience not to be missed. Winner of almost 20 awards including several Cesars; traveled international festivals world over including Venice IFF where it premiered. IFC Films release.
The Invisible Frame (2009, Germany) 59 min, followed by Cycling the Frame (1988, Germany) 27min, both in English and German, non-fiction
Directed by Cynthia Beatt
With Tilda Swinton
Berlin based British director Beatt set out to document the change her city of choice experienced over 20 years, in a very straightforward way: Tilda Swinton cycles along the former Berlin wall to witness the new life that has emerged from the path that once was the Berlin Wall and no man's land surrounding it. The minimal structure of this film retraces an action that the director and Swinton undertook 21 years ago, when the actress cycled along the West side of the standing wall in 1988. The effectiveness of the experience of seeing both of these films back to back is stunning (screened in a reverse order emphasizing the passage of time) and it gives a material proof and emotional resonance to the historical events of 1989.
Hooked (Pescuit sportiv, 2007, Romania) 84 min, in Romanian
Directed and written by Adrian Sitaru
With Adrian Titienu, Ioanna Flora, and Maria Dinulescu
A bickering young couple takes a weekend trip to the countryside. The atmosphere is dense and the couple on the brink of a break-up. Matters get worse when their car hits a young prostitute, who seems to be dead. Convincing each other that hiding the body would be the best solution, the couple is shocked when the girl comes to and seemingly remembers nothing. She manipulates herself into their plans and nobody is sure about anything anymore. Shot completely in POV style, alternating fluidly between the perspectives of various characters, the film never lets up on its intensive suspense. Premiering at the Venice Film Festival, the film received several major awards for emerging talents including a prize at Palm Springs IFF and securing the director a Cinefondacion Residence to develop his next feature film project.
Cooking History (2008, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic) 88 min, in Russian, German, Serbian, Croatian, Hungarian, French, etc.; non-fiction
Directed and written by Peter Kerekes
6 wars, 10 recipes, 60.361,024 dead – a documentary about army cooks and how the everyday needs of thousands of armed stomachs affect the victories and defeats of statesmen – is the website byline of this engrossing, unusual and entertaining documentary about European wars and enemies from WWII to the recent wars in the Balkans. Playfully and powerfully staging interviews with army cooks recalling their wartime memories woven together in episodes devoted to each war, Kerekes provides fascinating sociological insights and proves that he's one of Europe's major filmmaking talents. Winner of multiple awards including a Special Jury Prize at the HotDocs documentary film festival. NPR interview with the director taped on the occasion of the film's screening at the SilverDocs film festival in DC is available at www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105606204&ft=1&f=1053.
A Call Girl (Slovenka, 2009, Slovenia) 90 min, in Slovenian
Directed and written by Damjan Kozole
With Nina Ivanisin, Peter Musevski, and Primoz Pirnat
A university student of English by day, a money-counting call girl by night, that's the title character, "one of the most coolly calculating anti-heroines to grace the silver screen." (A. Simon, Variety). Loosing her sense of reality and appreciation of her body, she does it all for the dream of moving up the social ladder and living in a penthouse she bought with a high mortgage. On her weekend trips to the small town of her childhood visiting her aging-rocker father, nobody knows of the 'big' life she leads in the capital. The wake-up-call comes after one of her clients, a visiting foreign politician, dies of a heart attack in her presence. She's overcome by fear, guilt and desperation when the police and a couple of thuggish pimps step into her insular world. Kozole's previous feature Spare Parts and a number of his other films helped to put Slovenia on the contemporary film map. Both of his films are released in the US by Film Movement and both have been selected by numerous international festivals including IFF in Toronto and Rotterdam.
Carmen of the North (Carmen van het noorden, 2009, The Netherlands) 100 min, in Dutch
Directed by Jelle Nesna
With Tygo Gernandt, Sanguita Akkrum, Thom Hoffman
Inspired by the 1919 Dutch film of the same title, director Nesna transfers the story to the contemporary multicultural society in the Netherlands. Carmen becomes the object of desire of a police inspector, after she becomes a murder suspect. Absorbed by his love for Carmen, he leaves his fiancée and loses his job, but soon realizes that Carmen values freedom more than anything else. Hip hop music is a major element of this update of a classic story and apart from being a Dutch box office hit, the film also received national awards for music direction. Screening introduced by Thessa Mooij.
Summer Holiday (Boogie, 2008, Romania), 102 min, in Romanian
Directed and written by Radu Muntean
With Dragos Bucur, Anamaria Marinca, Mimi Branescu, and Adrian Vancica
In all of his three released feature films (and the fourth currently in production) Muntean created leading roles for actor Dragos Bucur, the star of Police, Adjective, which recently premiered in US cinemas. In the title role of the thirty-something Boogie he's cast opposite the excellent Anamaria Marinca (of 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days) as his wife. The young couple and their 4-year-old son go to the seaside on a May holiday weekend. A successful businessman Boogie is constantly drawn away by incessantly ringing cell phone and the feeling that he's forced to enjoy a day with his family is quite palpable. Boogie becomes even more restless when the family runs into his high school friends. During a dinner they recall their freewheeling drinking and flirting vacations of the past which they try to relive during the night only to find out, that the world around them has already changed. Muted in its style, the brilliant acting by the entire cast contributes to the high satisfaction experienced from this universal story, which premiered in the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes IFF.
God's Offices (Les Bureaux de Dieu, 2008, France) 122 min, in French
Directed by Claire Simon
With Nathalie Baye, Nicole Garcia, Beatrice Dalle, and Isabelle Carre
Based on real life sessions in a family planning clinic, director Simon explores women's sexual freedom by placing women of all ages in conversations with clinic counselors. Teenagers of all colors and backgrounds share the reasons why they can't talk at home about sex and contraception, a family deals with their underage daughter undergoing abortion, an Arab boyfriend wants to get proof of his girlfriend's virginity, and a married woman struggles with her decision to abort and the sex choices she made in the past. It's all about the very business of life itself. The film premiered at the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes IFF and one of its strengths is also the stellar cast.
Camino (2008, Spain) 143 min, in Spanish
Directed and written by Javier Fesser
With Nerea Camacho, Carme Elias, Marino Venancio, and Manuela Velles
Based on a true story, Camino is an emotional adventure set around a dazzling 11-year-old girl simultaneously faced with two completely new events in her life: falling in love and dying. "This extraordinarily bold, provocative work has already caused heated debate in Spain. With Camino lying in hospital bed, Fesser takes us back five months, to her life as a normal adolescent. When her illness strikes, her family, members of Opus Dei, encourage her to dedicate her suffering to God. Fesser's powerful vision of the world seen by Camino and her family creates a very contemporary update of a very traditional Spanish film genre: the lives of the saints." (From the Spanish Cinema Now program notes.) Regardless of the apparent controversy, the film succeeded in garnering multiple national awards including six 2009 Goya Awards (also for Best Film).
Lesson 21 (Lezione 21, 2008, Italy) 92 min, in English
Directed and written by Alessandro Baricco
With John Hurt, Noah Taylor, Leonor Watling, and Clive Russell
In his debut as a film director, the accomplished Italian writer and essayist combines both of the fields of his study: philosophy and the piano. The eccentric university professor Mondrian Killroy is adored by his students; his most famous lecture is Lesson 21 in which he critically discusses the genesis and importance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. After the professor's disappearance, his student Marta sets out to find him to hear the lesson once again. Conceived as a dream-like story unfolding in Marta's mind, a series of bizarre characters representing period thought and opinions passionately argue the symphony's merits with fascinated musicians. In a stylistically colorful way and with a very interesting cast, Baricco created the most unusual film about a well-known musical composition.
Revanche (2008, Austria) 121 min, in German
Directed and written by Götz Spielmann
With Johannes Krisch, Irina Potapenko, Ursula Strauss, and Andreas Lust
Seemingly a suspense thriller plot centered around a bank robbery and revenge, the film quickly shifts to existential themes of guilt, the search for identity, loneliness and contrasts between city and country. In a ragged section of Vienna, hardened ex-con works in a brothel where he falls for Ukrainian hooker. Their desperate plans for escape unexpectedly intersect with the lives of a rural cop and his generous wife. With meticulous, elegant direction, Spielman creates a tense, existential, and surprising portrait of vengeance and redemption, and a journey into the darkest regions of human nature, in which violence and beauty exist side by side. Winner of numerous major film festival awards topped by an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, the film was acquired and released in an unprecedented move by Janus Films and the Criterion Collection, placing it side by side with the rest of the classic cinema in their immense library. An honor that Spielmann's film rightly deserves.
Moon Inside You (Mesiac v nas, 2009, Slovakia) 75 min, non-fiction
Directed and written by Diana Fabianova,
Diana is not the only one for whom the monthly period is no fun at all. She asks herself why it is so widely accepted that women all over the world should feel so lousy on a regular basis? Entertaining and surprisingly inviting, The Moon Inside You takes viewers on an international trek exploring the myths, phobias, quackery, and physiology of menstruation. Combining personal experience with the social stigmas associated with basic female functions, this insightful documentary uses humor, spontaneous interviews, and even claymation to allay the fears of many viewers and offer welcome information and insight into many more. Premiered at the IDFA documentary film festival in Rotterdam 2009.
Jerichow (2008, Germany) 93 min, in German
Directed and written by Christian Petzold
With Benno Furmann, Nina Hoss, and Hilmi Sozer
"Money is the Fourth Party in a Romantic Triangle" was the title of A.O. Scott's NY Times review of this somber feature named after the east German town where the story unfolds. The triangle in this variation on the classic story The Postman Always Rings Twice, consists of a former soldier down on his luck, a bored, blonde and beautiful wife, and her rich husband, a Turkish immigrant. Inevitably, the wife and the newcomer find passion for each other and want to find a way, how to get rid of the husband and keep his money. All three characters hide secrets from one another until everything culminates in an explosive final scene. A wonderful cast and underlying observations of modern German society makes this festival favorite (IFF in Venice, Toronto, Berlin, Edinburgh among others) a small gem.