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59th Chicago International Film Festival Announces Audience Choice Awards, Presented by Xfinity

Audiences Embraced 2023 Lineup With Historically High Ratings, Full Houses

CHICAGO, Illinois (October 25, 2023) – The Chicago International Film Festivalclosed the 59th edition of North America’s longest-running competitive festival on Sunday, October 22, and today announces the winners of the Audience Choice Awards in four categories: U.S. Feature, International Feature, Documentary, and Short Film. The Festival’s Audience Choice Awards are presented by Xfinity.

In 2023, the 59th Chicago International Film Festival showcased 103 feature films and 57 shorts, selected from approximately 7,500 submissions from more than 120 countries. The films were screened at venues across Chicago including the AMC NEWCITY 14, the Music Box Theatre, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Chicago History Museum, the Hamilton Park Cultural Center in Englewood, Harrison Park in Pilsen, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Audience Choice Award for U.S. Feature is presented to Minhal Baig’s WE GROWN NOW, the 59th Chicago International Film Festival’s Opening Night presentation which also won the Chicago Award for an outstanding film in the City & State program. WE GROWN NOW is a rich, complicated, and lyrical Chicago story set in the Cabrini-Green housing project in 1992, grounded in empathy as it follows two 10-year-old boys navigating the heartbreak and joy of a community that is in the midst of upheaval. The Audience Choice Award for Documentary goes to THE SPACE RACE, directed by Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. THE SPACE RACE, from the Black Perspectives Program, is the untold story of Black astronauts – including Guion Bluford, Victor Glover, and Chicago’s own Mae Jemison – civil rights and outer space pioneers.

GREEN BORDER (Poland, France, Czech Republic, Belgium), a gripping story of refugees fighting for their survival directed by Polish master Agnieszka Holland,received the Audience Award for International Feature, and Claude-Aline T. Nazaire-Miller’s 376 DAYS (NICK CAVE: KEEP IT MOVIN’) was the audience favorite for Short Film.

“This year’s Audience Awards reflect the growing attention to unique and powerful stories of resilience, courage, and creativity in an ever-changing world,” said Chicago International Film Festival Artistic Director Mimi Plauché. “Truly reflecting a global perspective, the slate of films in this year’s 59th Festival brought our audiences to every corner of the planet to tell complex, evolving, and surprising stories while demonstrating the exceptional talent from both established and emerging filmmakers.”

On Friday, October 20, the Festival announced the winners of this year’s jury competitions.

The Gold Hugo in the International Competition went to Gábor Reisz’s EXPLANATION FOR EVERYTHING, which also won a Silver Hugo for Best Screenplay, for its brilliance in telling a multilayered story that encompasses its protagonist’s coming-of-age and the cultural changes of a country. Rodrigo Moreno’s THE DELINQUENTS took the Silver Hugo Jury Prize and Aki Kaurismäki’s FALLEN LEAVES took the Silver Hugo for Best Director. Amr Gamal’s THE BURDENED won the Gold Hugo and Ena Sendijarević’s SWEET DREAMS took the Silver Hugo in the New Directors Competition. The Roger Ebert Award, given to a film in the New Directors Competition in recognition of a filmmaker with a fresh and uncompromising vision, went to Mohamed Kordofani’s GOODBYE JULIA.

THE ECHO from Tatiana Huezo won the Gold Hugo in the International Documentary Competition, with the Silver Hugo going to Maciek Hamela’s IN THE REARVIEW.

The complete list of films receiving Hugos can be found here.

For more information, visit the Festival’s website at


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