Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

2007 Chicago International Film Festival
By Marilyn Ferdinand

This is the time when I’m supposed to wrap up this year’s Chicago International Film Festival. I’m supposed to tell you what I liked, what I didn’t, who won what, what personal appearances impressed me, and what it all means.

Well, if you want to see what I liked and didn’t like, read the reviews linked below. They’ll also tell you about the guests—a palty number of them again this year—and what I learned from them. You can find the list of winners here.

So that leaves me with what it all means. Damned if I know. I know that something that has been in existence for 43 years ought to mean something, but like the great edifices of the ancient world—the Coliseum in Rome, the Pyramids of Egypt—perhaps the CIFF just endures. The films on display through the years have heralded the arrival of some new talents in the film industry who have gone on to great careers or faded to black rather ignominiously. I’m not sure it’s the job of a film festival to cultivate the filmmakers of tomorrow, but if it were, that’s what “it” all would mean.

Rather, I tend to think film festivals feed a mania certain of us have to be told stories and shown pictures in the dark. Not just any stories and pictures, mind you. If that’s all we wanted, we’d head to the cineplexes and enjoy what the mainstream of moviegoers enjoy. No, we want something we haven’t seen before. We’re curious explorers. We’re avaricious collectors of rarities. We’re looking for that untapped oil well.

We’re film geeks.

So I’ll just say that my belly is more than full, and I’m long overdue for a deep, drawn-out nap. My dreams will be of my own creation rather than those of the artists and lesser lights alike who have been burning my retinas for the past two weeks. When I’ve had my rest, I’m sure I’ll be back for more.

In the meantime, sweet dreams to you all, no matter where they come from. l

Previous CIFF coverage:

Yella: A mysterious, atmospheric tale of a troubled woman. (Germany)

Atagoal: Cat’s Magical Forest: A family-friendly anime about a fun-loving fat cat and the battle to save the world. (Japan)

4 Elements: A documentary that shows amazing footage of four dangerous occupations that seek to conquer earth, air, fire, and water. (The Netherlands)

Tehilim: A wife and her two sons struggle to understand the sudden disappearance of the man of the house and reconcile their grief and guilt with the Torah’s teachings. (Israel/France)

Her Wild Oat: Newly discovered and restored silent comedy starring the magical Colleen Moore as a lunch wagon owner with a yen for the good life—and handsome leading man Larry Kent. (United States)

Hallam Foe: A voyeur with a mommy complex finds true love through a pair of binoculars. (United Kingdom)

Lucky Miles: Desert survival meets a comedy of errors for illegal immigrants and the reservists sent to round them up in the desert of Western Australia. (Australia)

4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days: A harrowing tale of how an illegal abortion brings out all-too-human frailties in a woman, her best friend, and her lover. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. (Romania)

You, the Living: A visually wacky satire on Swedish society. (Sweden)

Wolfsbergen: A privileged but (what else?) dysfunctional family acts out when its patriarch decides to kill himself. (The Netherlands)

Becky Sharp: Thackeray’s feisty social climber gets a definitive portrayal by Miriam Hopkins in this, the first three-strip Technicolor film ever made. (United States)

My Brother’s Wedding: A 30-year-old man is forced to come of age in this gem by independent African American filmmaker Charles Burnett. (United States)

I Served the King of England: Sumptuous memory film about a little waiter who could, living through the decadence and insanity of Europe in the 20th century. (Czech Republic/Slovakia)

Faro: Goddess of the Waters: Mystery fans and explorers of traditional cultures should love this tale of an educated villager who returns to his tribe and the angry goddess who seems to resent his presence. (Mali/France/Canada/Burkina Faso/Germany)

  • lady wakasa spoke:
    5th/11/2007 to 1:11 pm

    Hiya, Marilyn – I just went through something similar for the New York Film Festival (unfortunately, Chicago and New York seem to run about the same time each year so I may never make it there). With only one movie in common (from what I can tell), I think I got the same feeling – festival fatigue. They began to project a sameness… except for the closing night film (the very excellent Persepolis), I started feeling a sense of detachedness, apartness to the films. Maybe it was the compressed schedule, maybe it was the work stress on top of it – but by the end, it was just hard to think about it all.
    Well, we’ll always have next year…

  • Marilyn spoke:
    5th/11/2007 to 1:57 pm

    Hey, LW, nice to see you in these parts! I have to say that, for the most part, the films I saw were good to great. I didn’t write up everything I saw (there were just not enough hours in the day for that), and I was lucky that the last night (3 films) was one of the best. What actually did me in was participating in the double bill blogathon (above). I didn’t write another word for a week after that.
    I hope you get a chance to see Her Wild Oat. It’s great.

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