By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
Free screenings will take audiences on summer adventures around the world and beyond on Wednesdays from May to October
Cinema/Chicago recently announced its annual free Summer Screenings Program with a selection of 17 feature films and one short film from around the world exploring the theme of adventure. All screenings are free and open to the public and take place on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. from May 29 through October 2, 2019 at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington Street, 2nd Floor) in the Claudia Cassidy Theater. Summer Screenings is presented by Cinema/Chicago in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and 17 consulates and cultural institutions from around the city. The full 2019 schedule can be found at https://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/summer-screenings/.
“Summer Screenings provides Chicagoans and visitors to the city with access to a diverse, high quality program of international and independent cinema,” said Vivian Teng, Cinema/Chicago Managing Director. “Working closely with Chicago’s cultural organizations, this program brings together audiences from all backgrounds to have a global experience through film.”
“The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is pleased to once again support this annual free film series at the Chicago Cultural Center,” said Mark Kelly, DCASE Commissioner. “The film industry has become an arts and economic powerhouse for the City of Chicago and it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate cultural diversity through the lens of international and independent films.”
From the blossom of young romance and swimsuit sunbathing to the mythology of mermaids and the search for alien life, this year’s lineup of international films represents the feelings of adventure and freedom that summer evokes. The program kicks off on May 29 with “Princess Cyd,” which won the Chicago Award at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival in 2017 and depicts 16-year-old Cyd’s summer of self-discovery while visiting to her aunt.
Free screenings continue all summer long with films from 16 additional countries. “The Camino Voyage” (July 17) documents a group of artists reconnecting with their Irish heritage by setting out on the epic 2,500 km odyssey from Ireland to Spain in a traditional wooden boat. Offbeat Japanese dramedy “Glasses“ (August 7) follows an uptight career woman who takes an unplugged beach vacation but finds island life is nothing like she expected.
The 2019 Summer Screenings Program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, with additional support from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and patrons Charles Droege and Julie Wroblewski.
The full 2019 Summer Screenings program of free movies is as follows:
Co-presented by the Chicago Film Office Dir. Stephen Cone, 2017, USA, 96 min.
Set during a sweltering Chicago summer, this slice-of-life story follows Cyd, a 16-year-old girl visiting her intellectual aunt Miranda, a successful novelist. Cyd is free-spirited, sporty and sensuous. The straightlaced Miranda finds fulfillment in writing, religion and friendships. As these opposites strive to find common ground, each follows their own path of self-discovery.
Preceded by animated short “Corky” ( 2017), directed by Ty Primosch, the whimsical late-night adventure of one corkscrew that refuses to stay bottled up. 6 min.
Co-presented by the Goethe-Institut
Dir. Robert Thalheim, 2011, Germany, 89 min.
Summer 1988: As promising young athletes in the GDR, twins Isa and Doreen attend a training camp at Lake Balaton, Hungary. There they meet Arne and Nico from Hamburg. What begins as a holiday romance for Doreen and Arne develops into a serious love affair. This heartfelt love story is set against a high-stakes political backdrop, giving the film both lightness and gravity. German with subtitles.
We Are Thankful
Based on the real encounter between the director and lead actor, this measured, compelling docu-fiction follows a day in the life of Siyabonga, a young man from a township who dreams of becoming an actor. Upon learning about a film production in a nearby town, he does whatever it takes, including scrounging for wifi and taxi fare, to make the journey to meet the director. Zulu with subtitles.
Co-presented by the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Chicago Dir. Sung-kyu Cho, 2018, South Korea, 93 min.
Joeng-bong and Seong-hye run a guesthouse on Jeju Island. With vacation season nearly over, some last-minute guests show up to enjoy the final days of summer. Things get complicated when it becomes clear that each visitor is somehow connected to the owners’ murky pasts. Beachside romance begins to blossom as these quirky characters find themselves entangled in passions both present and past. Korean with subtitles.
An astronomer obsessed with the search for alien life is fired from the university when his emotional past begins to affect his judgment. Determined to discover life in the distant universe, he enlists the help of a down-on-her luck research assistant. As the pair looks toward the night sky, they begin to make contact with the things that make life worth living.
Tour de France
Co-presented by the Cultural Service of the Consulate General of France in Chicago Dir. Rachid Djaidani, 2017, France, 95 min.
Threatened by his rival, popular young rapper Far’Hook (SADEK) must flee Paris. His producer sends him to accompany his crotchety father, retired mason Serge (Gérard Depardieu), on a tour of France’s ports in the footsteps of painter Joseph Vernet. Despite generational and cultural divides, an improbable friendship begins to form as the two embark on a journey of reconciliation setting France’s past against its present. French with subtitles.
The Camino Voyage
Co-presented by the Consulate General of Ireland, Chicago Dónal Ó Céilleachair, 2018, Ireland, 90 min.
This epic 2,500 km modern day Celtic odyssey from Ireland to northern Spain documents the overseas pilgrimage of a writer, two musicians, and a stonemason, who set out to test their mettle and connect with their heritage. Traveling in a traditional Irish boat, a Naomhóg, the crew faces long days and rough seas, sharing their stories, songs, and poems with the welcoming denizens of seaside towns.
A Time in Quchi
Shu jia zuo ye
Co-presented by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago Dir.Chang Tso-chi, 2013, Taiwan, 109 min.
Bao, a city boy obsessed with his phone and video games, is sent to his grandfather’s home in rural Quchi for the summer. Eventually freeing himself from technology, Bao befriends local boys as he begins to tap into the rhythms of summertime. Rendered with poetic visuals and humor, “A Time in Quchi“ is a stunning coming-of-age tale that grapples with both the joys and sorrows of growing up. Mandarin with English subtitles.
Co-presented by the Consulate General of Argentina in Chicago Dir. Federico Godfrid, 2016, Argentina, 83 min.
Two brothers return to the beachfront town of their childhood summers to scatter their mother’s ashes and sell the family apartment. When they reconnect with their old friend Laura, both are smitten and compete for her affections, channeling their sense of loss into fraternal rivalry. Moonlit beaches, verdant forests, and the ever-present ocean serve as the backdrop for this reflective tale of grief, romance, and forgiveness. Spanish with subtitles.
Uptight career woman Taeko arrives at the Hamada Inn for an unplugged beach vacation, but island life is nothing like she expected. Confronted with a cadre of eccentric locals with curious pastimes like “merci” exercises and “twilighting,” Taeko can’t wait to escape their quirky lifestyle fast enough. Or can she? This offbeat dramedy celebrates the joy of life’s simple delights. Japanese with subtitles.
Ein Betulot Bakrayot
Co-presented by the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest Keren Ben Rafael, 2018, Israel, 91 min.
In this magical, bittersweet tale, rebellious teen Lana can’t wait to escape her small coastal town of Kiryat Yam, a place where everything seems to have stopped in time. Longing for love and adventure, she detests the inertia that surrounds her. How could she imagine that a rumored mermaid off the coast would wake up her town and tempt her with alluring, unforeseen possibilities? Hebrew with subtitles.
The Man Who Bought the Moon
L’uomo che comprò la luna
Co-presented by the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago Dir. Paolo Zucca, 2018, Italy, 102 min.
In this absurdist, feel-good comedy, undercover Italian operative Kevin Pirelli is sent to his ancestral island to track down a Sardinian fisherman who has laid claim to the moon. In spite of his extensive training, nothing can quite prepare Kevin for the real Sardinia. At the heart of this time-honored tale of the clash between cultures is a story of love, honor, and homegoing. Italian and Sardinian with subtitles.
Co-presented by the Australian Consulate-General in Chicago Dir. Ben Elton, 2017, Australia, 95 min.
Every summer, revelers of all stripes gather at the Westifal music festival. When Irish folk band fiddler Keevey meets Roland, a self-righteous theremin player, sparks literally begin to fly. From one year to the next, their rollercoaster romance forms the backdrop of interweaving stories of Morris Dancing, didgeridoos and drumming in this comedy about a community who discover they have more in common than their taste in music.
As Duas Irenes
Co-presented by the Consulate General of Brazil in Chicago Dir. Fabio Meira, 2017, Brazil, 89 min.
13-year-old Irene is bored by her ho-hum, small-town existence, until she uncovers her father’s double life complete with a second, secret family. Keeping this to herself, she strikes up a friendship with her stepsister, a girl her age who also happens to be named Irene. What follows is a delicate dance of identity, betrayal and self-discovery as Irene must manage her own duplicitous existence. Portuguese with subtitles.
Dali and her 8-year-old son Pepe head to the beach for a holiday with Dali’s boyfriend, Chavez, in tow. A promising start to their highly anticipated vacation, culminating in Pepe’s Easter Sunday birthday, is soon derailed/thwarted as the seductions of resort life tantalize each one. Will this emerging family be able to survive the tidal wave of temptations that threatens to tear them apart? Spanish with subtitles.
In this winning social comedy that scored big at the Hungarian box office, the gypsy community in Acsa village have long been treated like second-class citizens. Pressured by the parish priest, the mayor invites them to participate in the local soccer championship with a trip to the World Cup going to the victors. With their cultural pride and athletic prowess at stake, this team of lovable outcasts must band together. Hungarian with subtitles.
Co-presented by the Swedish American Museum and the Consulate General of Sweden in Chicago
Dir. Wiktor Ericsson, 2017, Sweden, 93 min.
In this tender coming of-of-age romance, Polish teenager Wojtek has joined his down-on-their-luck migrant worker parents to pick strawberries in Sweden for the summer. Smitten with the landowners’ daughter, he quickly wins Anneli over with his persistent charm. Just as love begins to blossom, the young couple is faced with not only their social and cultural differences but also each community’s own prejudices. Swedish and Polish with subtitles.
Cinema/Chicago, the presenting organization of the Chicago International Film Festival, is a year-round nonprofit arts and education organization dedicated to fostering better communication between people of diverse cultures through the art of film and the moving image. Cinema/Chicago’s programs include the Chicago International Film Festival, Summer Screenings Program, CineYouth Festival, and year-round Education Program. Celebrating its 55th edition October 16-27, 2019, the Chicago International Film Festival is North America’s longest-running competitive film festival. For more information, please visit www.chicagofilmfestival.com