Chicago Film Festival 2007
Jurors: Rudi Dolezal, Mike Goodridge, Udo Kier, Jirí Menzel, Claude Nouchi, Maryse Sistach

Golden Hugo:Silent Light, Mexico, dir. Carlos Reygadas
Special Jury Prize:Tuya's Marriage, Mongolia, dir. Wang Quanan
Best Director:You, the Living, Sweden, dir. Roy Andersson
Best Actress:Tuya's Marriage, Yu Nan
Best Actor:Control, Sam Riley
Best Screenplay:Control, Matt Greenhalgh
DocuFest Competition*:Taxi to the Dark Side, USA, dir. Alex Gibney
New Directors Competition*:In Memory of Myself, Italy, dir. Saverio Costanzo
Audience Choice Award**:Control, UK, dir. Anton Corbijn
* 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
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days A– (Romania, dir. Cristian Mungiu) - Excellent, fresh, suspenseful; phenomenally assured acting and direction, and mature collapsing of any line between politics and "real life"

Taxi to the Dark Side B+ (USA, dir. Alex Gibney) - Dispels one's sense that we already know this story; central case study only penetrates so far, but admirably sober, efficient documentary

Yella B+ (Germany, dir. Christian Petzold) - Carnival of Souls for the world of modern finance? Mulholland Drive with dreams of spreadsheets rather than stardom? A weird, tense mystery

Flight of the Red Balloon B+ (France, dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien) - Glassy remoteness of other Hou films livens a bit here; who'd have guessed he was the man to loosen up Binoche so gloriously?

Michael Clayton B (USA, dir. Tony Gilroy) - Ties itself in a needless, loopy knot, but a great character study of corporate self-loathing; looks sensational; Tilda is genius (full review)

The Aerial (La Antena) B (Argentina, dir. Esteban Sapir) - Social critique is broad, not every idea works, but the amount of visual and sonic invention staggers and delights; a minor, clever wonder (full review)

Silent Light B (Mexico, dir. Carlos Reygadas) - Lensing as ace as you've heard, almost as if fishing for compliments; story barely supports such meticulous filming, but easily worth a look

Control B (UK, dir. Anton Corbijn) - Dwindles into tweedy Wife vs. Girlfriend conflict, but Corbijn finds continuity and contrast between punk highs and working-class anomie (full review)

The Savages B (USA, dir. Tamara Jenkins) - Solid; Linney's again at the center of a gratifyingly nuanced exploration of sibling relationships; she and Hoffman nail humor and solemnity

Hallam Foe B (UK, dir. David Mackenzie) - Mackenzie keeps finding funds for his schizo, almost willfully uneven character portraits, but I'm glad, since style keeps getting richer (full review)

Lars and the Real Girl B– (USA, dir. Craig Gillespie) - Not as layered as it wants to be, and built on shaky foundation of what "indie" cinema is, but actors endow it with sympathy and warmth

Scream of the Ants C+ (Iran, dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf) - Makhmalbaf in unusually restless mode, casting wide not over myths to subvert and anger to vent; revealing but highly uneven Indian snapshot (full review)

The Witnesses C+ (France, dir. André Téchiné) - Able enough as small-ensemble drama in early years of AIDS, but feels remarkably belated; after so much time, why not stronger POV?

Stuck C (Canada/USA, dir. Stuart Gordon) - Film only occasionally manages to capitalize on lurid charge of premise; Gordon's chops are palpable in setup but quickly grow listless (full review)

Faro: Goddess of the Waters C (Mali, dir. Salif Traoré) - Festival fatigue didn't help, but this Malian drama played as a pretty but familiar standoff between forces of science and local myth

The Last Mistress C– (France, dir. Catherine Breillat) - Drably costumey, momentum stalled, story threadbare, Argento and Aattou flat; only Claude Sarraute works, but her role is too confined

Men in the Nude D+ (Hungary, dir. Károly Esztergályos) - The plot of a hundred disposable entries in LGBT film festivals everywhere, under a sober, prudish gloss that only further dulls the film (capsule review)

Irina Palm D+ (UK, dir. Sam Garbarski) - I see why Marianne saw potential here, but formula masked as risk-taking always grates; vulgar, airless gloss on weakest bits of The Mother

Films from the Main Competition:
Listed alphabetically  •  Most graded titles reviewed above
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days A– (Romania, dir. Cristian Mungiu)
Alice's House (Brazil, dir. Chico Teixeira)
The Banishment (Russia, dir. Andrei Zvyagintsev)
Control B (UK, dir. Anton Corbijn)
Hallam Foe (Mister Foe) B (UK, dir. David Mackenzie)
La France (France, dir. Serge Bozon)
Opium: Diary of a Madwoman (Hungary, dir. János Szász)
Ploy (Thailand, dir. Pen-ek Ratanaruang)
Pudor (Spain, dirs. David Ulloa & Tristán Ulloa)
Savior's Square (Poland, dirs. Joanna Kos & Krzysztof Krauze)
Silent Light B (Mexico, dir. Carlos Reygadas)
Tehilim (France, dir. Raphaël Nadjari)
Tuya's Marriage (Mongolia, dir. Quanan Wang)
Yella B+ (Germany, dir. Christian Petzold)
You, the Living A– (Sweden, dir. Roy Andersson)

Films from the New Directors Competition:
Listed alphabetically  •  Graded titles reviewed above
The Aerial (La Antena) B (Argentina, dir. Esteban Sapir)
All Is Forgiven (France, dir. Mia Hansen-Løve)
Bad Habits (Mexico, dir. Simón Bross)
Family Values (France, dir. Claus Drexel)
Hard Hearted (Russia, dir. Aleksei Mizgiryov)
In Memory of Myself (Italy, dir. Saverio Costanzo)
Lovesickness (Puerto Rico/USA, dirs. Carlitos Ruiz Ruiz & Mariem Pérez Riera)
My Friend and His Wife (South Korea, dir. Shin Dong-Il)
Noise (Australia, dir. Matthew Saville)
Not by Chance (Brazil, dir. Philippe Barcinski)
On the Wings of Dreams (Bangladesh, dir. Golam Rabbany Biplob)
The Other Half (China, dir. Ying Liang)
Sankara (Sri Lanka, dir. Prasanna Jayakody)
Shotgun Stories (USA, dir. Jeff Nichols)
The Unpolished (Germany, dir. Pia Marais)

Opening and Closing films were The Kite Runner (USA, Forster) and The Savages (USA, Jenkins), respectively

Special and Gala Presentations include The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France, Schnabel), Flight of the Red Balloon (France/Taiwan, Hou), Freddie Mercury: Lover of Life, Singer of Songs (UK/Germany, Dolezal), Gone Baby Gone (USA, Affleck), Grace Is Gone (USA, Strouse), Honeydripper (USA, Sayles), Michael Clayton (USA, Gilroy), My Brother Is an Only Child (Italy, Luchetti), My Brother's Wedding (USA, Burnett) Rails & Ties (USA, Eastwood), Slipstream (USA, Hopkins), and Things We Lost in the Fire (USA, Bier)

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