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Happy Valley

Director Amir Bar-Lev doesn't push the irony. He doesn't push anything, really. He just recounts the whole sordid story of the Penn State football scandal…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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CIFF 2007 Photo Album

I've now gathered about 3,000 photos taken at film festivals, of everyone from Cate Blanchett to Johnny Rotten, and the 43rd Chicago International Film Festival gave me more opportunities. Most of those photos are squirreled away here and there on this site, often linked to the festival at which they were taken. Maybe someday we'll compile an index. And maybe someday I'll scan in some of my pre-digital prints. It's not like I have anything else to do. I was a newspaper photographer from the age of 15, using an old Rolicord, and I remembered one rule I learned at that time: Compose the photo to your satisfaction, and then take a big step forward.

Members of the Chicago Film Festival jury, visiting filmmakers and Chicago movie folk gathered at our house for a party toward the end of the festival's first week, at which the highlight was undoubtedly the legendary German actor Udo Kier doing his impression of Marlene Dietrich singing "Lili Marleen."

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