October 15-29: The Chicago International Film Festival


The Infinite Happiness

Copenhagen’s “8 House,” an ultramodern loop of apartments created by architect Bjarke Ingels, reinvents the concept of “home.” Its 500 residents can traverse all nine floors by bike while their kids attend kindergarten on the ground floor. This exuberant documentary profiles the (mostly) happy residents, including a group of children who experience the best scavenger hunt ever, offering a hopeful, inspired picture of communal living by design.


Motley’s Law

This captivating documentary follows tough-as-nails lawyer (and former Mrs. Wisconsin) Kimberley Motley, the only American allowed to practice law in Afghanistan. Motley defends US and European citizens caught in the country’s legal and political quagmire, even as she finds herself under threat of assassination. While Motley brazenly chastises Afghani judges on behalf of her clients, she must also balance the needs of her family a world away.



The Homecoming

Bestselling self-help author Gunnar’s own advice cannot help him when his son returns home with a gorgeous, uncannily familiar fiance. Confronted with a past he thought long buried, Gunnar must choose between guarding his own secrets and protecting his son. A deliciously dark comedy about the skeletons in our closets, The Homecoming upends the safe haven of family and sends up one of the biggest taboos of all.



When a prizewinning ram in a small Icelandic farming town is suspected of carrying a deadly disease, the government mandates the slaughter of all the rams in the area. But for two farmer brothers who haven’t spoken to each other in 40 years, the disease is just the latest salvo in a long-running sibling rivalry. With colorful characters and an offbeat wit, Rams is a peculiar tale ingeniously told.

CIFF Link / Read our review


Forced to return to the remote village of his childhood to live with his estranged father, teenager Ari has never felt more isolated. While his hard-partying dad and loving but frail grandmother do their best to mend the broken past, local bullies and rough living leave Ari struggling to find his place. Unfolding with pathos and understated emotion, Sparrows is a bittersweet coming-of-age story about learning to stand up for yourself.



Last Base

Two base jumpers hike to the mountains to wave their late friend goodbye. Shot in the monumental, ravishing Norwegian mountain landscape, this story of passion, friendship, and death will take you to dizzying heights.



Girls Lost

A taboo-busting teen fable about gender fluidity, Girls Lost conjures one of the screen’s most vividly realized transgender characters. Three girls discover a mysterious flower with the power to change their sex, which causes tomboy Kim to recognize her own urgent need to live as a boy. Brilliant male/female dual performances and a dreamy color palette give this film a propulsive energy.


The Here After

After serving time in juvenile detention, teenager John returns to the strained confines of the home he shares with his father and younger brother. As he attempts to reintegrate into home and school life, the shadow of his violent past haunts him, his family, and their scarred community. Tensions mount until John has no choice but to face the pain he has caused.


Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.