Facets Cinémathèque

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May 22–28, 2015

Chicago Theatrical

The Lesson

Film still: The Lesson Film still: The Lesson Film still: The Lesson


Best Bulgarian Feature
Audience Award
Special Jury Prize
Sofia Intl Film Fest
Special Jury Prize
Tokyo Grand Prix
Tokyo Intl Film Fest
"A precisely paced, nightmarish thriller... It's a tough, gripping watch made emotionally rewarding through trenchant plotting and [Margita] Gosheva's tight-lipped expressiveness"
  —Village Voice
"The naturalistic style of the storytelling is stealthily enthralling, as is the lead performance by Margita Gosheva"
"Ms. Gosheva's [performance is] disciplined, quietly heartbreaking and almost subliminally witty"
  —New York Times
3 stars½ "[Filmmakers] Grozeva and Valchanov [are] perverse humanists. They coax the audience's guard down with their empathy, only to turn the narrative screws on their characters with surprising ferocity"
  —Slant Magazine
"Quietly compelling"
  —Screen International
"The kinetic yet poker-faced filmmaking renders the narrative turns especially jolting"
  —Chicago Reader

In a small Bulgarian town, Nade (Margita Gosheva) is an honest, hard-working elementary school teacher struggling to keep her life together. When some money is stolen from her purse, she repeatedly urges the student who took it to come forward, but no one ever does. After returning home, she discovers that her husband has amassed a great deal of debt and the bank is threatening to foreclose on the home where they live with their young daughter. Also, the agency where she translates legal documents to English for extra cash is going under and is unable to pay her for work already done. With few options left, she solicits help from a local loan shark who is happy to give her what she needs at a steep price. Nade soon discovers that her moral choices, untouched by the realities of economic desperation and moral compromise, would have appalled her in the past, as she makes one last extreme effort to avoid financial ruin.

While on the one hand The Lesson is a story about a teacher's misfortunes, it is also informed by universal concerns such as the contradictions contained in a society that is ultimately ruled by economic demands. This debut film marks the emergence of a new and promising directorial duo who excel at depicting the unexpected twists that can occur in the course of everyday life.

Directed by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, 2014, Bulgaria/Greece, 105 mins. In Bulgarian with English subtitles.


  • Fri., May 22 at 7 & 9 pm
  • Sat., May 23 at 5, 7 & 9 pm
  • Sun., May 24 at 5:30 & 7:30 pm
  • Mon.–Thurs., May 25–28 at 7 & 9 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation