The 28th AFI European Union Film Showcase will open with “A Perfect Day”—director Fernando Leon de Aranoa’s darkly comic portrait of aid workers attempting to provide clean water during the aftermath of the Balkan War, starring Benicio del Toro, Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko, and Melanie Thierry—and close with “The Treasure,” a deadpan comedy of manners and Cannes Prizewinner from “Police, Adjective” and “12:08 East of Bucharest” director Corneliu Porumboiu.
The other 52 films from 28 countries to screen during the event, which runs from Dec. 1- 20 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md., include official Oscar submissions (“A War,” “Son of Saul”), possible contenders (“Youth,” “The Lady in the Van,” “45 Years”), and festival favorites (Palme d’Or winner “Dheepan,” “Tale of Tales,” “Mia Madre”).
Read the full list of films (by country) below:
“In the Basement”
Sun, Dec. 13, 9:25 p.m.; Mon, Dec. 14, 9:25 p.m.
The world was shocked when the cases of Josef Fritzl and Wolfgang Priklopil emerged, both long-term kidnappers who kept their victims locked in basements for years. Now, arch provocateur Ulrich Seidl (the PARADISE trilogy, DOG DAYS) returns to his documentary roots — or is it mock doc? — with this investigation of how his countrymen and women relate to their basements, a space, according to the filmmaker, for ones’ most personal hobbies. Unusual sexual practices, band practice, creepy dolls and Nazi memorabilia are all on display here. Official Selection, 2014 Venice Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Ulrich Seidl; SCR Veronika Franz. Austria, 2014, color, 81 min. In German with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Thurs, Dec. 3, 9:40 p.m.; Mon, Dec. 7, 9:25 p.m.
Fifteen-year-old Jesse witnesses the stabbing death of his best friend at a shopping mall. Friends and family struggle to understand the seemingly unmotivated, random murder. Riding with his BMX crew, Jesse is alone in the crowd, his state of shock and grief represented by cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis’s (BULLHEAD) disconnected imagery, which employs rack-focuses between hazy and sharp figures and long-take portrait-like close-ups en route to a powerful emotional climax at a concert during Deafheaven’s song “Violet.” Official Selection, 2014 AFI FEST; 2014 Berlin, Edinburgh, Karlovy Vary film festivals; 2015 New Directors/New Films. DIR/SCR Bas Devos; PROD Tomas Leyers. Belgium/Netherlands, 2014, color, 85 min. In Flemish and Dutch with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Wed, Dec. 2, 5:00 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 6, 9:20 p.m.
On the brink of bankruptcy, school teacher Nadezhda is pushed to the limits of reason in order to save her home from repossession. With little help from her unemployed, alcoholic husband, Nadezhda is forced to come up with the cash herself. As the deadline looms, she makes one last desperate attempt to save her family. Co-directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov won Best Debut Film at the 2015 Göteborg Film Festival and Best New Directors at the 2014 San Sebastián International Film Festival for this Dardennes-esque morality tale. Best Bulgarian Film, Audience Award, 2015 Sofia Film Festival; Official Selection, 2014 Toronto Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov; PROD Irini Vougioukalou, Konstantina Stavrianou, Magdelena Ilieva. Bulgaria/Greece, 2014, color, 105 min. In Bulgarian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2015 Oscar® Selection, Croatia
“The High Sun”
Wed, Dec. 9, 7:10 p.m.
Dalibor Matanić tells three different stories of love before and after wartime, with the couple in each story portrayed by talented young actors Tihana Lazović and Goran Marković. Set during the years of 1991, 2001 and 2011, the action takes place between two neighboring Balkan villages — one Serbian, one Croatian — with the lovers’ lives unavoidably being affected by the war. Despite a history of inter-ethnic hatred and distrust, there is also inter-ethnic love between these two peoples. Un Certain Regard Jury Prize, 2015 Cannes Film Festival; Official Selection, 2015 Karlovy Vary Film Festival. DIR/SCR Dalibor Matanić; PROD Ankica Jurić Tilić. Croatia/Serbia/Slovenia, 2015, color, 123 min. In Croatian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec. 11, 5:05 p.m.; Sat, Dec. 12, 1:00 p.m.
Aging farmhand Ivo (Ivo Gregurevic) gives stranded motorist Mirjana (Mirjana Karanovic) a lift to the gas station one night. But his apparent altruism is immediately greeted with suspicion by the local villagers, who recall that Ivo once served time for rape and have never forgiven him. From this inciting incident, a series of troubling events will unfold over the course of the night, calling into question society’s veneer of civility and just how far people have really moved on from the past. Best Cinematography, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, 2014 Pula Film Festival. Official Selection, 2014 Toronto, 2015 Rotterdam, Karlovy Vary film festivals. DIR/SCR Zvonimir Jurić; SCR Jelena Paljan; PROD Ankica JurićTilić, Eva Rohrman. Croatia/Slovenia, 2014, color, 98 min. In Croatian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“Impressions of a Drowned Man”
Mon, Dec. 14, 10:00 p.m.; Wed, Dec. 16, 5:10 p.m.
A man wakes up on the beach with no memory of who or where he is. In his possession is a notebook of poems. He finds his way to a city, and in time meets people who claim to be his parents, and an ex-girlfriend. Each of them asserts that he is actually the famous poet Kostas Karyotakis, who committed suicide in 1928. And yet here he is, alive and well (enough), in 2015. With the anniversary of his death approaching, what if Kostas tried again? Filmmaker Kyros Papavassiliou’s surreal mindbender plays with notions of identity, fate and free will. Official Selection, 2015 Rotterdam, Karlovy Vary film festivals. DIR/SCR/PROD Kyros Papavassiliou; SCR Maria Varnakkidou, Philippos Yiannikouris, Giorgos Zois; PROD Yannis Chalkiadakis, Monica Nicolaidou. Cyprus/Slovenia/Greece, 2015, color, 82 min. In Greek with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“The Snake Brothers”
Tue, Dec. 15, 7:00 p.m.; Wed, Dec. 16, 9:15 p.m.
Real-life brothers Krystof and Matej Hádek play ne’er-do-well brothers “Cobra” and “Viper” in Jan Prusinovský’s gritty melodrama, shot through with moments of anarchic comedy. Junkie younger brother Cobra still lives at home with Ma (Jana Sulcová), periodically robbing houses to fund his addictions. It falls to older brother Viper to keep the other in line, but, with a drinking problem and job troubles of his own, he’s ill-equipped to look after anyone else. Best Actor for Krystof Hádek, 2015 Karlovy Vary Film Festival. DIR/PROD Jan Prusinovský; SCR Jaroslav Zvácek; PROD Ondrej Zima. Czech Republic, 2015, color, 111 min. In Czech with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2015 Oscar® Selection, Denmark
Mon, Dec. 14, 7:00 p.m.
Danish commander Claus Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk, soon to play Euron Greyjoy on GAME OF THRONES) does his best to keep his troops safe and morale high on their deployment to Afghanistan, but is forced to make a fateful judgment call under enemy fire. “Retaining the matter-of-fact structural simplicity and procedural meticulousness of [Tobias] Lindholm’s superb thriller A HIJACKING, A WAR doesn’t seek to break new ground in the ongoing cinematic investigation of the Afghanistan conflict; rather, it scrutinizes the ground on which it stands with consummate sensitivity and detail.” — Variety. Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; 2015 Venice Film Festival. DIR/SCR Tobias Lindholm; PROD Tomas Radoor, René Ezra. Denmark, 2015, color, 115 min. In Danish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Wed, Dec. 2, 9:25 p.m.; Wed, Dec. 9, 9:40 p.m.
Documentarian Jeppe Rønde’s (THE SWENKAS) narrative debut is a haunting meditation on the real-life plague of teen suicides in a South Wales town. Sara (Hannah Murray, GAME OF THRONES, GOD HELP THE GIRL) arrives in Bridgend with her policeman father, who has been assigned to investigate the ongoing crisis. She befriends the local kids, for whom the loss of their own is intensely felt, and falls for melancholy Jamie (Josh O’Connor). After yet another suicide, the community’s mood darkens toward collective madness. Best Actress, Cinematography and Editing, 2015 Tribeca Film Festival; Official Selection, 2015 Rotterdam, Göteborg Film festivals. DIR/SCR Jeppe Rønde; SCR Torben Bech, Peter Asmussen; PROD Malene Blenkov, Michel Schønnemann. Denmark, 2015, color, 95 min. In English. NOT RATED
“Fassbender: To Love Without Demands”
Fri, Dec. 4, 3:00 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 6, 9:30 p.m.; Thurs, Dec. 10, 9:25 p.m.
Danish documentarian Christian Braad Thomsen reflects upon the life and career of his longtime friend Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the enfant terrible and leading light of the New German Cinema, a workaholic, bisexual hedonist who wrote, directed, produced and/or starred in more than 40 feature films by the time he died in 1982 at age 37. Interweaving rare news footage, photographs and excerpts from Fassbinder’s films with a never-before-seen interview between Thomsen and Fassbinder, Thomsen considers Fassbinder’s personality in Freudian psychoanalytic terms and in light of his formative years. Official Selection, 2015 Berlin Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Christian Braad Thomsen. Denmark, 2015, color/b&w, 109 min. In German with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2015 Oscar® Selection, Estonia
Sat, Dec. 5, 1:00 p.m.; Mon, Dec. 7, 5:05 p.m.
From Elmo Nüganen, director of Estonia’s highest-grossing film NAMES ENGRAVED IN MARBLE, which chronicled the 1918 student uprising against the Soviets, now comes the biggest-budgeted Estonian film to date. 1944 is a dramatic account of the bloody WWII Battle of Tannenberg Line on the Eastern Front, where Estonian civilians were caught between the German and Soviet armies, with native sons fighting on both sides. DIR Elmo Nüganen; SCR Leo Kunnas; PROD Ilkka Matila, Kristian Taska. Estonia/Finland, 2015, color, 100 min. In Estonian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“In the Crosswind”
Sat, Dec. 12, 5:05 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 13, 3:15 p.m.
Martti Helde’s visionary and moving account of the Soviets’ 1940s deportation of thousands of Estonians to Siberia
mixes live action with tableaux vivants: painstaking, painterly compositions of actors frozen in place. The restlessly mobile camera and black-and-white imagery from DP Erik Põllumaa combined with Liis Nimik’s requiem-minded score ensure that this experiment in stasis is very much a cinematic work. Audience Award, 2015 Göteborg Film Festival; Don Quixote Award, Estonian Film Award and Best Cinematography, 2014 Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival; Ecumenical Jury Award, 2014 Warsaw Film Festival; Official Selection, 2014 Toronto Film Festival. DIR/SCR Martti Helde; SCR Liis Nimik; PROD Piret Tibbo-Hudgins, Pille Rünk. Estonia, 2014, b&w, 90 min. In Estonian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2015 Oscar® Selection, Finland
Thurs, Dec. 10, 7:15 p.m.; Sat, Dec. 12, 12:45 p.m.
The Soviet Union, 1953: Fearing he may be caught up in a widening Stalinist crackdown on his fellow Baltic dissidents, Endel Nelis (Märt Avandi) flees Leningrad for the small town of Haapsalu in his native Estonia. Taking a job as a gym teacher in the local high school, Nelis, a skilled and dedicated fencer, begins teaching his pupils the ways of this most elegant of sports. Based on a true story Klaus Härö’s (LETTERS TO FATHER JACOB, MOTHER OF MINE) rousing historical drama opens a window into Soviet and sports history alike. DIR Klaus Härö; SCR Anna Heinämaa; PROD Kaarle Aho, Kai Nordberg. Finland/Estonia/Gemany, 2015, color, 93 min. In Estonian and Russian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec. 18, 9:25 p.m.
After an ankle injury sidelines the titular 80-yea-old misanthrope, he’s forced to move in with his son and daughter-in-law, where a clash of generations ensues. With little patience for a post-1953 society, , he detests the hustle and bustle of modern life in Helsinki, and is particularly ruffled by his daughter-in-law, a successful businesswoman and a grump in her own right. Still, the two must learn to co-exist while his son is off tending to the family farm. Based on the popular books by Tuomas Kyrö, the film peels away the surly layers of its characters to reveal a crowd-pleasing family comedy. . Official Selection, 2014 Toronto, 2015 Seattle film festivals. DIR/SCR Dome Karukoski; SCR Pekko Pesonen, Tuomas Kyrö, from books by Kyrö, PROD Jukka Helle, Markus Selin. Finland, 2014, color, 104 min. In Finnish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sat, Dec. 5, 5:15 p.m.; Tue, Dec. 8, 7:20 p.m.
Jacques Audiard (A PROPHET, RUST AND BONE) won the 2015 Palme d’Or at Cannes for this gripping tale of three Sri Lankan refugees who, seeking escape from their war-torn homeland, pose as a family to gain safe passage to France. Once settled in a suburban Paris housing project, all three — “father” Dheepan (playwright and novelist Antonythasan Jesuthasan, himself once a child soldier with the Liberation Tigers), “mother” Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and nine-year-old “daughter” Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby) — face new kinds of conflict. Official Selection, 2015 Cannes, Toronto, London, Chicago film festivals. DIR/SCR Jacques Audiard; SCR Thomas Bidegain, Noé Debré; PROD Pascal Caucheteux. France, 2015, color, 109 min. In Tamil, English and French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Wed, Dec. 2, 7:15 p.m.; Tue, Dec. 8, 7:15 p.m.
Afghanistan war vet Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts, BULLHEAD, RUST AND BONE) suffers from PTSD. He’s hired as a temp security guard at Maryland, the estate of Lebanese businessman Whalid (Percy Kemp). During a glitzy party, he gets a glimpse of Whalid’s icy German wife Jessie (Diane Kruger, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS), and later overhears a conversation that seems to indicate Whalid is involved in illegal arms dealing. Vincent’s paranoid episodes increase when he’s hired as a bodyguard for Jessie and her son. The question now is whether the threat is outside the gates of Maryland, or already within them. Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; Cannes Film Festival. DIR/ SCR Alice Winocour; SCR Jean-Stéphane Bron; PROD Emilie Tisné. France/Belgium, 2015, color, 101 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sun, Dec. 13, 1:00 p.m.; Tue, Dec. 15, 7:15 p.m.
A Moroccan immigrant now living in Lyon, France, Fatima works long hours as a cleaning lady to support her two daughters, Nesrine, 18 and a promising pre-med student, and Souad, 15 and rebellious. Her relationship with her younger daughter is especially tense, with the two often bickering, and Fatima’s poor grasp of French is a constant source of embarrassment to Souad. But the hard-working Fatima hasn’t yet met a challenge she can’t rise to. Official Selection, 2015 Cannes Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Philippe Faucon; SCR from books by Fatima Elayoubi; PROD Yasmina-Nini Faucon, Serge Noël. France, 2015, color, 79 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“Fidelio: Alice’s Odyssey”
Sun, Dec. 13, 7:20 p.m.; Wed, Dec. 16, 7:15 p.m.
This award-winning debut feature from writer/director Lucie Borleteau is notable for the strength and clarity of its vision and the courageous, charismatic performance of lead actress Ariane Labed (ATTENBERG, ALPS and next year’s ASSASSIN’S CREED), who won Best Actress at the 2014 Locarno Film Festival. After a passionate farewell to her boyfriend Felix (Anders Danielsen Lie), ships engineer Alice (Labed) joins up with the in-transit cargo ship Fidélio to replace her predecessor, who has met with an untimely death. The process of getting acquainted with her new shipmates is complicated by the fact that the ship’s captain, Gaël (Melvil Poupaud), is a former lover. DIR/SCR Lucie Borleteau; SCR Clara Bourreau; PROD Marine Arrighi de Casanova, Pascal Caucheteux. France, 2014, color, 97 min. In French, Romanian, English, Tagalog and Norwegian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“In the Shadow of Women”
Thurs, Dec. 3, 5:00 p.m.; Tue, Dec. 8, 9:40 p.m.; Thurs, Dec. 10, 5:10 p.m.
Philippe Garrel (REGULAR LOVERS, JEALOUSY) returns with this exquisite romantic drama, an examination of marital infidelity and a freewheeling riff on life, art and the never-ending battle of the sexes. Married couple Pierre and Manon (Stanislas Merhar and Clotilde Courau) collaborate on documentaries. While researching his current subject, an aging Resistance fighter, at a film archive, Pierre falls hard for Elisabeth (Lena Paugam), a beautiful young intern. When Manon discovers the affair, her reaction surprises both Pierre and herself. Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; Cannes, Toronto, New York film festivals. DIR/SCR Philippe Garrel; SCR Jean-Claude Carrière, Caroline Deruas-Garrel, Arlette Langmann; PROD Saïd Ben Saïd, Michel Merkt. France/Switzerland, 2015, b&w, 73 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“The Magic Mountain”
Sat, Dec. 12, 3:05 p.m.; Mon, Dec. 14, 5:05 p.m.
This wildly creative animated docudrama from Romanian filmmaker Anca Damian (CRULIC: THE PATH TO BEYOND) is a chronicle of the life story of Polish expat Adam Jacek Winkler (1937–2002), who settled in France after a lifetime of struggle and daring, from fighting against Poland’s Communist rule to a stint fighting for the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet army. Drawing from Winkler’s journals, photography and sketchbooks, Damian employs a range of animated styles and collage techniques to bring Winkler’s amazing story to vibrant life. Special Mention, 2015 Karlovy Vary Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Anca Damian; SCR Anna Winkler; PROD Guillaume de Seille, Benedicte Thomas, Joanna Ronikier, Wlodimierz Matuszewski. Romania/France/Poland, 2015, color, 89 min. In French, English and Polish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“My Golden Days”
Fri, Dec. 4, 7:15 p.m.; Wed, Dec. 9, 7:15 p.m.
Arnaud Desplechin (A CHRISTMAS TALE, 2008 AFI European Union Film Showcase) revisits his hapless romantic character Paul Dedalus, memorably played by Mathieu Amalric in 1996’s MY SEX LIFE… or HOW I GOT INTO AN ARGUMENT, this time exploring the character’s wild younger years in the 1980s, from the pangs of first love to amateur international espionage. Making their screen debuts, Quentin Dolmaire as Paul and Lou Roy-Lecollinet as his on-again, off-again love Esther are vivacious and charming in this quirky, sexy coming-of-ager. SACD Prize (Directors’ Fortnight), 2015 Cannes Film Festival; Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; 2015 New York, Chicago film festivals. DIR/SCR Arnaud Desplechin; SCR Julie Peyr; PROD Pascal Caucheteux. France, 2015, color, 123 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“A German Youth”
Fri, Dec. 11, 3:00 p.m.; Sat, Dec. 19, 3:15 p.m.
Before they became radicalized terrorists and members of West Germany’s infamous Red Army Faction, Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin and Holger Meins were journalists, artists and filmmakers. Documentarian Jean-Gabriel Périot recaptures the turbulent Germany of the ’60s and ’70s by interweaving a treasure trove of material culled from news footage, public affairs programming and student activist films, culminating with an excerpt from Rainier Werner Fassbinder’s GERMANY IN AUTUMN. Compared to Germany today, it might seem like an alternate history if it weren’t all true. Official Selection, 2015 Berlin, San Francisco film festivals. DIR/SCR Jean-Gabriel Periot; PROD Nicolas Brevière. France/Germany/Switzerland, 2015, color and b&w, 93 min. In German and French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sat, Dec. 12, 9:40 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 13, 7:15 p.m.
Angeliki Papoulia (DOGTOOTH) is galvanizing as Maria, a wife and mother driven to extremes by the collapse of her family, business and belief system in Syllas Tzoumerkas’ scathing thriller. The film cross-cuts between the present, where Maria takes off in her SUV with a suitcase full of money and a fire behind her, and the past, where the interplay of marital and family relationships is revealed, and where her shopkeeper parents’ mounting debt reflects Greece’s recent economic crisis. This drama of family tensions, rages and sexual passions leads to an explosive conclusion. Official Selection, 2014 Locarno, 2015 Rotterdam, Karlovy Vary film festivals. DIR/SCR Syllas Tzoumerkas; SCR Youla Boudali; PROD Jeroen Beker, Maria Drandaki, Ellen Havenith, Titus Kreyenberg. Greece, 2015, color, 83 min. In Greek, English and German with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec. 4, 9:20 p.m.; Sat, Dec. 5, 9:20 p.m.
Alexis Alexiou’s hyper-stylish neo-noir follows 32 hours in the life of jazz club owner Stelios (Stelios Manias) as he tries to raise the money he owes gangster The Romanian (Mimi Branescu). Stelios tries to collect from the various characters who owe him money, but everyone from his drug dealer to the Albanian strip club operator to his cop brother have the same excuse: the economic crisis. Official Selection, 2015 Tribeca, Karlovy Vary film festivals. DIR/SCR Alexis Alexiou; PROD Thanassis Karathanos. Greece/Germany/Israel, 2015, color, 116 min. In Greek, German and Romanian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“Liza the Fox-Fairy”
Thurs, Dec. 17, 7:00 p.m.; Sat, Dec. 19, 9:40 p.m.
In 1970s Budapest, Liza (Mónika Balsai) is a live-in nurse for an ailing widow (Piroska Molnár, TAXIDERMIA). Lonely Liza has an imaginary friend: long-dead Japanese pop singer Tomy Tani. When real-life love arrives for Liza, fun-loving Tomy Tani becomes jealous, murdering his rivals. Is Liza a fabled Japanese fox-fairy, cursed to lead her mortal lovers to their doom? Károly Ujj Mészáros’ devilishly funny feature debut has won awards far and wide: Best Film, Best Special Effects, 2015 Fantasporto; New Directors Showcase Award, 2015 Seattle Film Festival; Jury Award, 2015 Fantaspoa; Audience Award runner-up, 2015 Fantastic Fest. DIR/SCR Károly Ujj Mészáros; SCR Bálint Hegedûs; PROD István Major. Hungary, 2015, color, 98 min. In Hungarian and Japanese with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2015 Oscar® Selection, Hungary
“Son of Saul”
Presented in cooperation with the Washington Jewish Film Festival
Mon, Dec. 7, 7:15 p.m.
László Nemes’ feature debut is both a riveting Holocaust drama and a bold experiment in cinema aesthetics. The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, 1944: Hungarian prisoner Saul Ausländer works in the Sonderkommando, assisting his captors with the extermination of his fellow prisoners. In the crematorium, Saul discovers the body of a boy he believes to be his son. As members of his unit ready their long-held plans to lead a camp uprising, Saul becomes obsessed with finding a rabbi in the camp to give the boy last rites and a burial. Grand Prix and FIPRESCI Prize, 2015 Cannes Film Festival; Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; Telluride, Toronto, New York, London film festivals. DIR/SCR László Nemes; SCR Clara Royer; PROD Gábor Rajna, Gábor Sipos. Hungary, 2015, color, 107 min. In Hungarian with English subtitles. RATED R
“You’re Ugly Too”
Fri, Dec. 4, 5:15 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 6, 5:45 p.m.
After the death of his sister, Will (Aiden Gillen, GAME OF THRONES) is given provisional release from prison six months early to act as guardian to his narcoleptic 11-year-old niece Stacey (Lauren Kinsella). With a welfare interview on the horizon, these two strangers can earn a measure of freedom if they can figure out how to become a family. Best Irish Feature, 2015 Galway Film Fleadh; Official Selection, 2015 Berlin, Edinburgh film festivals. DIR/SCR Mark Noonan; PROD Conor Barry, John Keville. Ireland, 2015, color, 78 min. In English. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec. 11, 9:20 p.m.; Wed, Dec. 16, 7:00 p.m.
Expanding on his award-winning short film A CHIANA, which chronicled race riots in Calabria sparked by conflict between the locals and African immigrants, Jonas Carpignano’s MEDITERRANEA is an illuminating portrait of the contemporary global refugee reality. Ayiva (real-life Burkinabe immigrant Koudous Seihon) and his friend Abas (Alassane Sy) make the dangerous journey from Burkina Faso to Italy, surviving the Sahara desert, murderous bandits and a stormy Mediterranean crossing. But in the land of their dreams, good work proves hard to find, and temptations for easier money abound. Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; 2015 Cannes, Karlovy Vary, Venice, London film festivals. DIR/SCR Jonas Carpignano; PROD Jason Michael Berman, Chris Columbus, Eleanor Columbus, Jon Coplon, Christoph Daniel, Andrew Kortschak, John Lesher, Ryan Lough, Justin Nappi, Gwyn Sannia, Marc Schmidheiny, Victor Shapiro, Ryan Zacarias. Italy/France/U.S./Germany/Qatar, 2015, color, 107 min. In French, Italian, English and Arabic with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sun, Dec. 13, 5:05 p.m.; Tue, Dec. 15, 9:00 p.m.
Director Margherita Buy projects calm confidence, but the mounting strain of various life challenges is starting to take a toll. Her mother (Giulia Lazzarini) is hospitalized with heart trouble, her movie shoot is not going well, she’s just broken up with her actor boyfriend (Enrico Ianniello) and her daughter (Beatrice Mancini) is flunking Latin. Add to this mix the arrival of American actor Barry Huggins (John Turturro), whose cartoonish ego and tales of working with Stanley Kubrick mask a ham actor with so-so Italian. The latest film from auteur Nanni Moretti blends melancholy with the madcap, to moving effect. Official Selection, 2015 Cannes, Toronto film festivals. DIR/SCR/PROD Nanni Moretti; SCR Francesco Piccolo, Valia Santella; PROD Domenico Procacci. Italy/France, 2015, color, 106 min. In English and Italian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“Tale of Tales”
Sat, Dec. 12, 7:00 p.m.; Thurs, Dec. 17, 7:15 p.m.
Neapolitan filmmaker Matteo Garrone (former AFI European Union Film Showcase titles GOMORRAH and REALITY) gives full rein to his visionary imagination with this suite of fairy tales penned by Giambattista Basile (1566–1632). Even bawdier and bloodier than tales by the Brothers Grimm, Garrone’s film will fascinate fans of folklore and fantastic cinema. The international cast includes Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, Shirley Henderson, Stacy Martin and Alba Rohrwacher. Score by Alexandre Desplat. Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; 2015 Cannes, Karlovy Vary film festivals. DIR/SCR/PROD Matteo Garrone; SCR Edoardo Albinati, Ugo Chiti, Massimo Gaudioso, from “Pentamerone” by Giambattista Basile; PROD Anne Labadie, Jean Labadie, Jeremy Thomas. Italy/France/UK, 2015, color, 125 min. In English. NOT RATED
Wed, Dec. 16, 9:20 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 20, 3:00 p.m.
This stunning first film from Piero Messina (AD on Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar®-winning THE GREAT BEAUTY) stars Juliette Binoche as Anna, a grieving mother holed up at a Sicilian villa. When her son’s girlfriend Jeanne (Lou de Laâge, BREATHE) shows up unexpectedly, Anna isn’t able to break the tragic news, instead pretending he will return in a few days. While waiting for him to arrive, the two strike up a complicated friendship, in which Anna can delay the inevitable and bask in Jeanne’s reality where her son still lives. This breathtakingly beautiful film marks Messina as a new talent to watch in Italian cinema. Official Selection, 2015 Venice, Toronto, London film festivals. DIR/SCR Piero Messina; SCR Giacomo Bendotti, Ilaria Macchia, Andrea Paolo Massara, from works by Luigi Pirandello; PROD Carlotta Calori, Francesca Cima, Fabio Conversi, Nicola Giuliano, Jérôme Seydoux. Italy/France, 2015, color, 100 min. In Italian and French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Thurs, Dec. 3, 7:00 p.m.
Longtime pals Fred (Michael Caine), a retired composer, and Mick (Harvey Keitel), a filmmaker, visit their favorite alpine spa in Switzerland, as they have for the past 20-odd years. The old friends walk, talk and spritz together in peace until the announcement of their children’s divorce — Fred’s daughter (Rachel Weisz) is married to Mick’s son (Ed Stoppard) — intrudes upon their tranquility. This bittersweet rumination on life and how to live it from Oscar® winner Paolo Sorrentino (THE GREAT BEAUTY) also features Jane Fonda and Paul Dano as two Hollywood actors struggling with their own senses of self. Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; 2015 Cannes, Toronto film festivals. DIR/SCR Paolo Sorrentino; PROD Carlotta Calori, Francesca Cima, Nicola Giuliano. Italy/France/Switzerland/UK, 2015, color, 118 min. In English. RATED R
Presented in cooperation with the Washington Jewish Film Festival
Sun, Dec. 13, 9:00 p.m.; Thurs, Dec. 17, 5:10 p.m.
More than 100 years ago, two men were born in Riga. They would become revolutionary Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and celebrated Russo-British philosopher Isaiah Berlin. Filmmaker Davis Simanis playfully explores their divergent paths throughout the important moments of the 20th century, leading to their sole meeting in post-war Moscow. From Eisenstein’s Hollywood encounters with Charlie Chaplin to Berlin’s time at the British Embassy in Washington, DC, Simanis employs spirited reenactments that mimic archival footage in a style that recalls both Guy Maddin and Woody Allen’s ZELIG. “A rarefied treat for cinematic historians.” — The Hollywood Reporter. DIR/SCR Davis Simanis, Jr.; PROD Liga Gaisa, Gints Grube. Latvia/Russia/UK, 2014, b&w, 69 min. In Latvian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2015 Oscar® Selection, Lithuania
“The Summer of Sangaile”
Sun, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.; Thurs, Dec. 10, 9:00 p.m.
Alanté Kavaïté won a Best Director award at Sundance for this rapturous portrait of two teenaged girls’ summertime love affair. Staying at her parents’ lakeside home for the summer, the sullen Sangaile (Julija Steponaityte) meets free-spirited local lass Auste (Aiste Dirziute) at an airshow. Auste, a talented artist and clothes designer, takes Sangaile under her wing. The two become fast friends and soon something more. Directing Award, World Cinema – Dramatic, 2015 Sundance Film Festival; Best Film, Best Actress and Best Art Direction, 2015 Lithuanian Film Awards. Official Selection, 2015 Berlin, Karlovy Vary film festivals. DIR/SCR Alanté Kavaïté; PROD Zivile Gallego, Antoine Simkine. Lithuania/France/ Netherlands, 2015, color, 88 min. In Lithuanian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2015 Oscar® Selection, Luxembourg
Mon, Dec. 7, 9:50 p.m.; Wed, Dec. 9, 5:10 p.m.
Living alone with his single mother, 13-year-old X is a troubled teen, removed from reality. He keeps to himself, not counting his imaginary friend Johnny, who taunts him and encourages him to act out. Sent into a remedial class after his latest violent outburst at school, X meets Shirley, and the two teens retreat into a world of sex, drugs and violence. But in finding each other, they just might have a chance to survive. Examining contemporary Europe through the eyes of two lost teens looking to connect, first-time narrative filmmaker Donato Rotunno adapted the story from a novel by Tullio Forgiarini. DIR/SCR Donato Rotunno; SCR/PROD Nicolas Steil; SCR from the novel “Amok” by Tullio Forgiarini. Luxembourg, 2015, color, 90 min. In Luxembourgish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2014 Oscar® Selection, Malta
Tue, Dec. 8, 5:10 p.m.; Wed, Dec. 9, 9:45 p.m.
Based on a true story from the frontlines of Europe’s migrant crisis, set on the Mediterranean Sea around the tiny island country of Malta, south of Sicily. Young Theo is excited to go out on his father’s tuna fishing boat, the Simshar, for the first time. But things go terribly wrong and the boat sinks, leaving the crew stranded far out in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, Red Cross doctor Alex has been dispatched to a Turkish merchant ship carrying rescued African migrants, including a pregnant woman. Their two stories converge on the high seas, with life-altering results. DIR/SCR Rebecca Cremona; SCR David Grech; PROD Leslie Lucey. Malta, 2014, color, 101 min. In Maltese with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sat, Dec. 19, 11:00 a.m.
Saskia Diesing’s award-winning debut feature, an ’80s-set coming-of-age tale, features a winning lead performance by Abbey Hoes. Growing up on the Dutch-German border, teenager Nena enjoys Goethe’s poetry and goth style, but really goes wild for her blue-haired, baseball-playing new boyfriend, Carlo. The two youths’ pursuit of happiness is tempered by Nena’s immense challenges acting as caregiver for her paralyzed father, whose desire to live is waning. Official Selection, 2015 Berlin Film Festival. DIR/SCR Saskia Diesing; SCR Esther Gerritsen; PROD Hanneke Niens, Hans de Wolf. Netherlands/Germany, 2014, color, 94 min. In Dutch and German with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec. 18, 7:15 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 20, 1:00 p.m.
Małgorzata Szumowska won Best Director at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival for this oddball investigation into people’s relationships with their minds, bodies and spirits. At a loss to cope with his anorexic, depressed daughter Olga (Justyna Suwala), her coroner father (Janusz Gajos) has her institutionalized for therapy. Olga’s counselor Anna (Maja Ostaszewska) gets good results with the girls in her care, but has an unconventional sideline as a medium, putting the living in touch with their dearly departed. Olga’s father is dismissive of Anna’s “gift,” but even he has seen the ghost of his dead wife once or twice… DIR/SCR/PROD Małgorzata Szumowska; SCR/PROD Michal Englert; PROD Jacek Drosio. Poland, 2015, color, 92 min. In Polish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sat, Dec. 12, 11:00 a.m.; Tue, Dec. 15, 5:10 p.m.
Documentarian João Pedro Plácido captures the look and feel of rural life in this portrait of a tight-knit community of farmers in the village of Uz in northern Portugal. Daniel is a young farmer, who, unlike many his age who have left Uz for the city, has chosen to stay home and continue the traditional working of the land. The film follows Daniel across a year’s time as the seasons change and as the possibility of love with a girl from a neighboring village blooms. Official Selection, 2015 London Film Festival. DIR/SCR João Pedro Plácido; SCR Laurence Ferreira Barbosa; PROD Luís Urbano, Sandro Aguilar. Portugal/Switzerland/France, 2014, color, 78 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2015 Oscar® Selection, Romania
Fri, Dec. 11, 7:15 p.m.; Mon, Dec. 14, 7:15 p.m.
In the principality of Wallachia, life is more Dark Ages than Age of Enlightenment, even in 1835. Constable Costandin and his son have been dispatched by a nobleman to track down a runaway slave accused of seducing the landowner’s wife. Foul-mouthed and quick-tempered, Costandin rides roughshod on the local peasantry in his search, explaining to his teenaged son that he’s upholding the social order. Radu Jude won Best Director at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival for this visionary historical epic — a European “eastern” counterpoint to the American Western. Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; 2015 Berlin, Tribeca, Karlovy Vary, London film festivals. DIR/SCR Radu Jude; SCR Florin Lazarescu, PROD Ada Solomon. Romania/Bulgaria/Czech Republic/France, 2015, color, 108 min. In Romanian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“One Floor Below”
Tue, Dec. 15, 9:45 p.m.; Thurs, Dec. 17, 9:45 p.m.
On his way up to his apartment, Sandu overhears a violent argument between neighbors Laura and Vali. Later that day, he learns that Laura is dead — possibly murdered. When the police question the building’s tenants, Sandu says nothing. He goes back to his daily routine: work, home, walk the dog. But then Vali pays a visit. Radu Muntean (TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS) deconstructs crime movie conventions with this vision of a society too quick to sweep others’ problems under the rug. “A moral dilemma of quasi-Dostoevskian proportions.” — Variety. Official Selection, 2015 Cannes, Karlovy Vary, Toronto, London Film Festivals. DIR/SCR Radu Muntean; SCR Alexandru Baciu, Razvan Radulescu; PROD Dragos Vilcu. Romania/France/Germany/Sweden, 2015, color, 93 min. In Romanian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sat, Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Unemployed Adrian asks neighbor Costi for a loan to fend off foreclosure on his apartment. Rebuffed, Adrian entices Costi to become his partner on a scheme to dig up a mysterious treasure, the existence of which was promised by Adrian’s late grandfather. Splitting the cost of hiring a professional metal detector, the odd-couple fortune hunters hit the road. Based on a true story, this deadpan comedy of manners from Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST; POLICE, ADJECTIVE) digs into Romania’s uneasy relationship with its past. Un Certain Regard Prize, 2015 Cannes Film Festival; Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; 2015 Karlovy Vary, Toronto, New York film festivals. DIR/SCR Corneliu Porumboiu; PROD Marcela Ursu. Romania/France, color, 89 min. In Romanian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sat, Dec. 19, 1:00 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 20, 7:15 p.m.
Leaving her third stint in rehab for alcoholism, faded actress Eva Nová (leading light of Slovak stage and screen Emília Vásáryová) is intent on reconnecting with her estranged son Dodo (Milan Ondrík). But Eva is facing hard times and, with little hope to revive her acting career, must take a job at a grocery. For his part, Dodo wants nothing to do with his mother, but he has more in common with her than he might be willing to admit. This debut narrative feature from documentarian Marko Skop (OSADNÉ) won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Marko Skop; PROD Jan Melis. Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2015, color, 106 min. In Slovak with English subtitles. NOT RATED
2015 Oscar® Selection, Slovenia
Thurs, Dec. 17, 9:40 p.m.
Mother Milena (Katarina Stegnar), teenager Alek (Jernej Kogovsek) and nine-year-old Veli (Lukas Matija Rosas Ursic) don’t venture outside their house. Across three chapters, each exploring the perspective of a single family member, the family’s story and the reasons they fear their neighbors gradually come into focus. Sonja Prosenc’s debut feature is a gripping drama that “masterfully maintains an air of steadily mounting tension” — Museum of the Moving Image. Official Selection, 2014 Karlovy Vary Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Sonja Prosenc; PROD Rok Sečen, Sandra Ržen. Slovenia/Italy, 2014, color, 90 min. In Slovene and Albanian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“A Perfect Day”
Opening Night: Tue, Dec. 1, 7:15 p.m. with reception, tickets $20/$18 AFI Members (Also screening Sat, Dec. 5, 3:05 p.m.)
The Balkans, 1995: Fighting has wound down and peace talks have begun, but problems still confront Mambrú (Benicio Del Toro) and his colleagues at NGO Aid Across Borders, including Tim Robbins, Mélanie Thierry and Olga Kurylenko. Tasked with removing a corpse from a well and Decontaminating its water, their progress is impeded by roads laced with unexploded land mines, untrusting villagers, gun-toting bandits and bureaucratic red tape. This is a fine seriocomic warzone tale from Fernando León de Aranoa (MONDAYS IN THE SUN, PRINCESAS), with strong performances from its outstanding cast. Official Selection, 2015 Cannes, London film festivals. DIR/SCR/PROD Fernando León de Aranoa; SCR from the novel “Dejarse llover” by Paula Farias. Spain, 2015, color, 106 min. In English. NOT RATED
Sun, Dec. 6, 3:15 p.m.; Mon, Dec. 7, 7:10 p.m.
Academy Award® winner Penélope Cruz stars in the latest from visionary Spanish filmmaker Julio Medem (SEX AND LUCIA). Diagnosed with breast cancer and recently left by her husband, a chance encounter with a Real Madrid scout (Luis Tosar, CELL 211) leads to an unexpected romance for Magda (Cruz). Magda and her supportive doctor and family soldier on through treatment, until unexpected but welcome news presents a new set of challenges. Featuring a brilliant performance by Cruz, this transcendent melodrama is filled with love, warmth and, most of all, life. Official Selection, 2015 Toronto Film Festival. DIR/SCR/ PROD Julio Medem; PROD Penélope Cruz. Spain/France, 2015, color, 111 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
“The Here After”
Sat, Dec. 5, 11:00 a.m.; Tue, Dec. 8, 9:20 p.m.
Teenager John (played by Swedish pop star Ulrik Munther) returns to his home in rural Sweden after two years away in a secure institution. It’s not immediately revealed what his crime was, but it soon becomes clear that the other kids in school have no intention of forgiving him. Magnus van Horn’s powerful debut feature has won acclaim on the international film festival circuit and heralds the arrival of a distinctive new talent. Official Selection, 2015 Cannes, Toronto, London film festivals. DIR/SCR Magnus von Horn; PROD Madeleine Ekman, Mariusz Wlodarski. Sweden/Poland/France, 2015, color, 102 min. In Swedish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Thurs, Dec. 10, 7:00 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 13, 3:00 p.m.
Plans for Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) Mercers’ 45th anniversary party are thrown into turmoil at the arrival of a letter informing Geoff that the body of his girlfriend Katya has been recovered from the mountain where she fell to her death 50 years ago. Shaken, Geoff withdraws, taking inventory of memories long shelved away. The news affects Kate just as deeply, as Geoff’s state of distraction breeds uncertainty and increasingly angrier emotions. Directed and written by Andrew Haigh (WEEKEND, HBO series LOOKING). Best Actor and Actress, 2015 Berlin Film Festival; Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; 2015 Karlovy Vary, Telluride, Toronto film festivals. DIR/SCR Andrew Haigh; from the story by David Constantine; PROD Tristan Goligher. UK, 2015, color, 95 min. In English. NOT RATED Screenings supported by D.C. Academy of Collaborative Professionals
Fri, Dec. 18, 5:05 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 20, 5:15 p.m.
Sixtysomething Hector McAdam (Peter Mullan, TRAINSPOTTING) has been living rough in Scotland since an unspeakable family tragedy some 15 years before. Hector has his demons but he still has his dignity, and friendships with several others in straitened circumstances like his own, including Jimbo (Keith Allen) and Hazel (Natalie Gavin). With Christmas coming, Hector resolves to reconnect with his estranged siblings. Jake Gavin’s debut feature is a refreshingly unfussy celebration of caring and community, with wry comic touches amid the affecting personal drama. Official Selection, 2015 Edinburgh, Chicago film festivals. DIR/SCR Jake Gavin; PROD Stephen Malit. UK, 2015, color, 87 min. In English. NOT RATED
“Kill Your Friends”
Fri, Dec. 11, 9:40 p.m.; Sat, Dec. 12, 9:20 p.m.
“Do these look like the shoes of someone who gives a f–k about the Velvet Underground?” Former A&R exec John Niven’s cult novel, about music biz excess and Machiavellian maneuvering during the UK’s late-’90s Britpop craze, is translated to the screen by first-time feature director Owen Harris in all its scathing outrageousness. Nicholas Hoult is Steven Stelfox, whose ruthless ambition, lack of moral compass and appetite for excess have gotten him far. But to get to the top, he’ll have to sink lower than ever before. With James Corden, Craig Roberts, Rosanna Arquette, Edward Hogg and Moritz Bleibtreu. Official Selection, 2015 Toronto Film Festival. DIR Owen Harris; SCR John Niven, from his novel; PROD Gregor Cameron. UK, 2015, color, 100 min. In English. NOT RATED
“The Lady in the Van”
Sun, Dec. 6, 1:00 p.m.
Following THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE (1994) and THE HISTORY BOYS (2005), former National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner and playwright Alan Bennett’s third screen collaboration may be their best yet, featuring a bravura performance by Maggie Smith. In 1973, the residents of the leafy London enclave of Camden Town found their liberal pieties tested by the arrival of an eccentric, elderly vagrant, Mary Shepherd (Smith), who lived out of her van and upset the neighborhood’s prevailing pretensions of charity and inclusiveness. Hustled from one parking spot to another, Shepherd eventually wheedled her way into the driveway of Bennett (Alex Jennings), a spot she would not relinquish for the next 15 years. Official Selection, 2015 AFI FEST; 2015 Toronto Film Festival. DIR/PROD Nicholas Hytner; SCR Alan Bennett, from his memoir and play; PROD Damian Jones, Kevin Loader. UK, 2015, color, 104 min. In English. RATED PG-13 Screening supported by Amtrak
Fri, Dec. 4, 9:45 p.m.; Sat, Nov 5, 9:45 p.m.
Things are grim up north, in the economically depressed Manchester and its surroundings of 1974. But on the dance floor of the local youth center, kids are grooving to American soul, a welcome source of joy amid their straitened circumstances. It’s there that John meets Matt, bonding over their shared love for the music and taste for the high life. Soon the two are making pilgrimages to the famous Wigan Casino dance hall and dreaming of becoming top DJs themselves. This labor of love for photographer-turned-filmmaker Elaine Constantine boasts spot-on period décor, fab threads and a soundtrack of floor fillers from the likes of Edwin Starr, Tobi Legend, Linda Jones and Frankie Valli. DIR/SCR Elaine Constantine; PROD Debbie Gray. UK, 2014, color, 102 min. In English. RATED R
Sat, Dec. 19, 5:15 p.m.
Playwright Debbie Tucker Green’s provocative feature film debut focuses on a modern-day miraculous conception incurred by a married, middle-class mother in Britain. The unexpected, unexplained pregnancy is devoid of any religious connotations, and causes upheaval in the family dynamics among wife Jackie (Nadine Marshall), husband Mark (Idris Elba, LUTHER, THE WIRE) and their 11-year-old son Jerome (Kai Francis Lewis). Official Selection, 2014 Toronto, London, 2015 Rotterdam film festivals. DIR/SCR Debbie Tucker Green; PROD Polly Leys, Kate Norrish. UK, 2014, color, 105 min. In English. NOT RATED
“A Royal Night Out”
Sat, Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 6, 7:15 p.m.
V-E Day, 1945: after nearly six years of war, peace is won and London erupts into a spontaneous celebration, extending long into the night. Accompanied by two military officers, teenaged princesses Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon, A DANGEROUS METHOD) and Margaret (Bel Powley, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL) are allowed by the King and Queen to slip out of Buckingham Palace incognito and join in the historic revelry. As portrayed by talented actresses Gadon and Powley, the royal sisters’ big night out is an unforgettable and fun-filled affair, inspired by true events. With Emily Watson, Rupert Everett, Jack Reynor and Roger Allam. DIR Julian Jarrold; SCR Trevor De Silva, Kevin Hood; PROD Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae. UK, 2015, color, 97 min. In English. NOT RATED