The 14th Annual European Union Film Festival

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 14, 2011 4:30PM

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Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in "The Trip"
Other than the start of Daylight Savings Time, a few college basketball games, and St. Patrick's Day, the most notable thing to occur in March every year is the Siskel's European Union Film Festival. The 14th edition, which opens March 4, is enough to make us crack open our thesaurus; words like "awesome," "amazing," and "stupendous" are too banal to express our giddy anticipation.

Past incarnations have brought us masterful films like I Am Love, Battle for Haditha, and Bluebeard. Running through March 31, this year's festival is the biggest yet: 64 films, 24 nations. The lineup is a smorgasbord of cinematic delights. Romanian Christi Puiu's newest headscratcher Aurora, 101-year-old Manoel de Oliveira's The Strange Case of Anjelica, Catherine Breillat's The Sleeping Beauty, and Pedro Costa's Change Nothing are among the films representing major filmmakers. But, as always, one of the festival's genuine delights is the chance to discover work that's more obscure. Disco and Atomic War, from Estonia, is worth a look based on the title alone; The Red Chapel, a mockumentary about two comedians who infiltrate North Korea, The Temptation of St. Tony, a nightmarish black comedy that's been compared to Eraserhead, and the documentary Plastic Planet are other unknown-to-us movies that caught our eye. A Dario Argento-inspired horror flick from Belgium, Amer, also looks promising.

And we will definitely not miss the Closing Night film, The Trip. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon go on a cross-country foodie tour and bicker all the way, just as they did in Tristram Shandy. Check out a clip entitled "This Is How Michael Caine Speaks" and then head down to the Siskel and buy a ticket. If you're not a Film Center Member all ready, now's the perfect time, since admission to all films is only $5 for Members. Otherwise buy a European Union festival pass for $50; 6 movies for the price of 5, plus a free small popcorn with each film.