It's that time of year again: the 54th Chicago International Film Festival
starts tonight. Included in the lineup are many films made by Chicago-born or -based filmmakers or else set in our city. Here’s a quick and dirty guide about the films that really put ‘Chicago’ in the festival:
An Acceptable Loss
Evanston-based director Joe Chappelle went to Northwestern and worked in advertising in the city before becoming a filmmaker. He’s also the executive producer of Chicago Fire
and has directed several episodes of the show. This film, starring Jamie Lee Curtis as a U.S. president caught in a scandal, was shot downtown and in some surrounding suburbs.
Sat 10/13, 3 PM, and Mon 10/15, 1 PM
The Band Wagon
The legendary Vincente Minnelli—director of The Band Wagon
(1953) along with such classics as Meet Me in St. Louis
and An American in Paris
, but perhaps best known among non-cinephiles for being Judy Garland’s husband and Liza’s father—was born in Chicago. He worked at both Marshall Field’s and the Chicago Theater when it was known as the Balaban and Katz Chicago Theater. This classic MGM musical stars Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse.
Sun 10/14, 4 PM
The film’s star, Steve Carell, who plays a father struggling with his son’s (played by Call Me By Your Name
star Timothée Chalamet) drug addiction, lived in Chicago for almost ten years and studied improv at the Second City Training Center.
Wed 10/10, 6:30 PM, 6:45 PM (sold out), and 7 PM
The City That Sold America
Forget Don Draper—this documentary is about the history of advertising in Chicago, with appearances from some of the industry's current luminaries. Director Ky Dickens
(Fish Out of Water
) is Chicago-based.
Thu 10/11, 5:45 PM, and Sat 10/13, 11:30 AM
The Feeling of Being Watched
Chicago-based Algerian-American journalist and filmmaker Assia Boundaoui, declared one of Filmmaker Magazine'
s 25 New Faces of Independent Film for 2018, explores FBI surveillance of Arab-Americans in Bridgeview.
Thu 10/18, 5:30 PM, and Fri 10/19, 3:30 PM
A documentary about Chicago-born director William Friedkin
, perhaps best known for The French Connection
and The Exorcist
. He will appear in person at the Monday screening (billed as a William Friedkin Tribute, where he’ll receive a Lifetime Achievement Award), as well as the Sunday screening of The Band Wagon
, one of his favorite films.
Mon 10/15, 6 PM, and Tue 10/16, 12 PM
The Hate U Give
Based on the best-selling young adult novel, the film is directed by George Tillman Jr., who graduated from Columbia College in 1991. He’s since directed several films set in or shot in Chicago, including Soul Food
(1997) and Barbershop
Thu Oct/11, 7 PM
In Search of Greatness
Director Gabe Polsky (Red Army
), born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, explores the source of athletic greatness in this documentary featuring such sports superstars as Wayne Gretzky, Pelé, and Jerry Rice.
Fri 10/19, 6 PM, and Sat 10/20, 12:15 PM
Both director Gregory Dixon and writer-star McKenzie Chinn
are based in Chicago, and their new film’s set here as well. Chinn stars as an artist who has to contend with work and love. Dixon and Chinn are scheduled to attend all screenings.
Mon, 10/15, 5:30 PM; Tue 10/16, 8:45 PM; and Fri 10/19, 1 PM
The Other Side of the Wind
critic Jonathan Rosenbaum
will introduce the screening of this much-hyped posthumous Orson Welles film; he’ll also conduct a post-screening Q&A.
Sun 10/21, 2:30 PM
The Power and the Glory
Spencer Tracy stars in this 1933 William K. Howard film as a much-hated railroad tycoon whose life is recounted in flashback after he commits suicide; Colleen Moore plays his wife. A star of the silent era, Moore also co-founded the Chicago International Film Festival with Michael Kutza in 1964. Another Chicago native, Preston Sturges, wrote the script. The screening is billed as a tribute to Moore, and her grandson, Billy Hargrave, will appear in conversation with Kutza.
Sun 10/21, 2:15 PM
Relax, It’s Probably Just a Parasite
The creator of this animated short, Joel Benjamin, teaches at the School of the Art Institute.
Shorts Program 2: Outside the Lines (Animation), Wed 10/17, 3:30 PM, and Thu 10/18, 7:45 PM
Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland
The subject of this documentary from Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (who also co-directed Stonewall Uprising
and The Newburgh Sting
) is Sandra Bland
, a Chicago native whose 2015 death in a Texas jail cell was one of the incidents that inspired the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and attorney will appear at both screenings.
Tue 10/16, 8:15 PM, and Wed 10/17 at 1 PM
Shorts Program 1: Around the Corner (City & State)
It doesn’t get any more local than this—every short in this program is from a local filmmaker: Margaret Bialis (Opening Night
), Michael Paulucci (Hashtag Perfect Life
), Dan Rybicky (Accident, MD
), Felix Piñeiro (I Am Not Broken
), Jake Zalutsky (Mike Mollo Prepares for a Fight
), Pam Austin (Whimper
), and Spencer Parsons (Commodity/Fetish
Thu 10/11, 6:15 PM; Sat 10/13, 12 PM; and Thu 10/18 at 3:30 PM
Shorts Program 8: Meditations (Experimental)
Three of the four filmmakers whose work is featured in this program have Chicago connections. The much-lauded Apichatpong Weerasethakul
) studied at the School of the Art Institute (SAIC's Sullivan Gallery held a survey exhibition of his work last year, titled "Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness."). Both Deborah Stratman (Optimism
) and Melika Bass (Creature Companion
) are both Chicago-based: the former is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the latter an assistant professor at the SAIC.
Mon 10/15, 8:30 PM
"[A] major focus of the film is Chicago, where skaters dance to DJs spinning James Brown edits," writes
critic Kevin Ritchie in NOW Magazine
. Buddy Love, who owns Rich City Skate, one of the country's few black-owned rinks, is also featured.
Fri 10/12, 6:15 PM, and Sat 10/13, 1:30 PM
What They Had
Writer-director Elizabeth Chomko's set this film in her native Chicago. Hilary Swank stars as a woman who returns home to the city after her mother (Blythe Danner) begins rapidly deteriorating due to Alzheimer’s disease; Old Town Ale House regular Michael Shannon stars as her brother.
Mon 10/15, 8:30 PM
Steve McQueen’s latest endeavor was filmed in Chicago (yes, Liam Neeson and Viola Davis were in our streets) from a script co-written by Chicago-based author Gillian Flynn. The film follows a group of widows (Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo) as they attempt to complete their dead husbands’ failed heist.
Sat 10/13, 7 PM