As part of University of Cincinnati's ongoing European Film Festival, four screenings were added at Esquire Theatre, with dates there slated Feb. 28-March 10. Underscoring the festival is its theme, which tests the "Limits of European Cinema."
Though the fest itself kicked off Jan. 26 at The Mini Microcinema, the Esquire showcases were confirmed earlier this month; there are also screenings at the Contemporary Arts Center (see screening info below).
Unlike the other two venues, Esquire's screenings are ticketed, though Michael Gott — a UC film professor and program director — notes that the format is roughly the same; an introduction and discussion led by UC professors and guest speakers will proceed each film.
The Esquire's first film in the lineup, We Were Just Playing (Feb. 28, 7 p.m.), follows two boys from disparate backgrounds — one is from Germany, the other from Ukraine — who forge an unlikely friendship. Directed by Ann-Kristin Revels, it "examines and confronts the limits of borders, friendships and childhood," according to the fest's press release. UC teaching assistants Meaghann Dynes and Felicia Hofner will lead the discussion.
Todd Herzog — UC's German studies department head and the director of the Center for Film and Media Studies — will present the next film in the lineup: Comic Sans, directed by Nevio Marasović (March 3, 7 p.m.). Despite a successful professional life, Alan Despot finds himself at odds with his girlfriend and father. He travels to the Croatian island of Vis in an attempt to salvage these relationships — and it works. Kind of. Though he repairs the relationship with his father, hijinks ensue when Alan is reunited with his ex-girlfriend… and her fiancé. Cringe.
The documentary The Other Side of Everything (March 6, 7 p.m.) centers on a locked apartment door that has kept a family separated for over 70 years in Belgrade, Serbia. Directed by Mila Turajlic, the film navigates "the political fault line" that has kept her family apart. But, as the release describes, it becomes a "searing portrait of an activist in times of great turmoil, questioning the responsibility of each generation to fight for their future." It was named one of the best films of 2018 by The New Yorker's Richard Brody and has received several festival accolades. Nevena Daković of the University of Arts in Belgrade and UC's Sunnie Rucker-Chang will lead the discussion.
La Villa (March 10, 7 p.m.) — also known as The House by the Sea — is presented by European Film Festival director Gott himself and centers on three siblings who return to their childhood home to be with their dying father. Set in the French port city of Marseille — also home to director Robert Guédiguian — the Mediterranean coast acts as the film's backdrop as the characters navigate both the personal and political.
The CAC's portion of the festival kicks off March 13 with a double-screening of Borders and Treblinka. Starting at 6:45 p.m., the evening features two contemporary directors from opposite sides of Europe — Slovenia and Portugal, respectively. The former comes from Damian Kozole; at 8-minutes, this short is a response to Southeast Europe's "migrant crisis" in the second half of 2015. The latter — directed by Sérgio Tréfaut — blurs the techniques used in documentary and fiction to recount the experience of Treblinka death camp survivors. Based on the memoir of Chil Raichman, the film asks us "to question how we see — and no longer see — images of horror" through recreations of train voyages, which travel across Poland, Ukraine and Russia.
Originally scheduled for Jan. 31, Schmitke was postponed but will now screen March 28 at the CAC at 6:45 p.m. From director Štěpán Altrichter, this mystery film is "equal parts Kafkaesque and Quixotic," according to its description. Named after its protagonist, engineer Julius Schmitke, it takes us into the Sudetenland boderlands (the northern, southern and western areas of former Czechoslovakia) where he must repair a wind turbine. While there, his colleague disappears and strange things begin happening in the forest.