WE GROWN NOW Opens, THE BIKERIDERS Closes 59th Edition of North America’s Longest Running Competitive Festival, Running October 11 - 22, 2023
Chicago, Illinois (September 18, 2023) – The Chicago International Film Festival today announced the full lineup of films and programs included in this year’s 59th edition of North America’s longest-running competitive film festival, running October 11 - 22, 2023. This year’s Festival unspools films across the city, with screenings at AMC NEWCITY 14, the Music Box Theatre, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Chicago History Museum, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and pop-up screenings at the Hamilton Park Cultural Center in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood and Harrison Park in Pilsen, as well as a curated selection of films available virtually via the Festival’s streaming platform. The program includes 99 feature films and 58 shorts, three World Premieres, an International Premiere, 19 North American Premieres, and 19 U.S. Premieres, and showcases cinema from countries around the world including Ukraine, South Korea, Spain, Georgia, China, France, Mexico, Japan, Iran, Argentina, and more.
The 59th Chicago International Film Festival opens October 11, 2023 with celebrated Chicago filmmaker Minhail Baig’s WE GROWN NOW, the heartfelt story of two ten-year-old boys as they revel in the freedoms of boyhood and the joys of friendship growing up in Cabrini-Green in 1992 Chicago. Closing Night on October 22 sees writer-director Jeff Nichols receiving the Festival’s Artistic Achievement Award with his THE BIKERIDERS, a furious drama following the rise of a fictional 1960s Midwestern motorcycle club through the lives of its members. The Festival’s Centerpiece presentation is SALTBURN, in which Academy Award-winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell brings us a beautifully wicked tale of privilege and desire screening October 19 with Fennell in attendance to receive the Festival’s Visionary Award.
Special Presentations include THE BOY AND THE HERON from animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki; Wim Wenders’ 3-D documentary ANSELM; Andrew Haigh’s mysterious drama ALL OF US STRANGERS; MAY DECEMBER from Todd Haynes; David Fincher’s highly anticipated THE KILLER; THE HOLDOVERS from Alexander Payne, seeing Paul Giamatti’s curmudgeonly instructor babysitting a handful of prep school students over Christmas break; and Michael Shannon’s directorial debut ERIC LARUE and Christos Nikou’s offbeat romance FINGERNAILS, with both directors attending the Festival.
This 59th edition of North America’s longest-running competitive film festival sees previous award winners return with new films in competition including Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s EVIL DOES NOT EXIST; Aki Kaurismäki’s FALLEN LEAVES; LA CHIMERA from Alice Rohrwacher; and Tatiana Huezo’s THE ECHO, among others. The Festival continues its proud tradition of giving a platform to fresh new voices and exciting emerging filmmakers with this year’s International Premiere of Vera Egito’s volcanic portrait of a leftist student movement bracing for violence during Brazil’s dictatorship in THE BATTLE; The Netherlands’ official Oscar entry SWEET DREAMS from director Ena Sendijarević; and GOODBYE JULIA, Mohamed Kordofani’s look at two women from different class and racial backgrounds forming a dangerous bond against the backdrop of South Sudan’s impending secession.
The Chicago and Illinois production communities take center stage in the Festival’s City & Stateprogram, featuring the World Premiere of Haroula Rose’s delightfully dysfunctional family comedy ALL HAPPY FAMILIES; Clare Cooney’s update on the teen slasher DEPARTING SENIORS, holding its North American premiere at the Music Box Theatre on Opening Night; and FOOD ROOTS from Michele Josue, charting Chicago restaurateur Billy Dec’s journey to reconnect with his Filipino heritage.
The Festival presents succinct yet mighty films that demonstrate the virtuosity and craft of the short format with this year’s nine shorts programs. Highlights include 376 DAYS following the creative process of artist Nick Cave leading up to his solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art; Jon Siskel’s return to the Festival with MEMORIAL, chronicling the Fourth of July shooting in Highland Park; NĂI NAI & WÀI PÓ, Sean Wang’s playful, touching, and wisdom-infused portrait of his two cohabitating grandmothers; and the darkly funny THE BREAKTHROUGH, starring Greta Lee and Ben Sinclair as a couple “interrupted,” by director Daniel Sinclair.
Running concurrently with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, 2023’s program also features a special Architecture program exploring the relationships between people and the structures they inhabit, in the context of the shifting urban landscapes of our communities and cities. Films include PICTURES OF GHOSTS, a personal essay film from Brazilian auteur Kleber Mendonça Filho and DEPOT - REFLECTING BOIJMANS, about the construction of a revolutionary Dutch open-access art storage space, which screens at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The program also includes Portuguese visionary João Canijo’s innovative two-film pairing BAD LIVING and LIVING BAD, which both take place in the same dilapidated hotel, first focusing on the staff, and then on the guests.
The 2023 Black Perspectives program boasts fascinating and powerful documentary stories with special guests in attendance, including Raoul Peck (I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO) in person, presenting his shocking story of a Black family who fought to keep their ancestral land, SILVER DOLLAR ROAD; Roger Ross WIlliams’ STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING, narrated by bestselling author Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, who will be on hand for a post-screening discussion; THE SPACE RACE, the as-yet-untold story of the Black astronauts who boldly go where no Black Americans had gone before, featuring Chicago’s own Dr. Mae Jemison and directed by attending filmmakers Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza; and the World Premiere of local filmmaker Eric D. Seals’ BIKE VESSEL, in which father and son embark on an epic bike ride from St. Louis to Chicago, taking a hard look at health disparities in the Black community. Narrative feature highlights include Raven Jackson’s lyrical, decades-spanning exploration of a woman’s life in Mississippi, ALL DIRT ROADS TASTE OF SALT, playing in the International Feature Film Competition; and Colman Domingo’s towering and electrifying performance as the architect of 1963’s momentous March on Washington in George C. Wolfe’s RUSTIN.
The Chicago International Film Festival runs October 11 - 22, 2023 with film screenings and programs presented at venues across the city including 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. Tickets for Opening Night are on sale now, with tickets to the rest of the Festival’s presentations going on sale September 22, 2023. Cinema/Chicago members’ pre-sale tickets go on sale September 19, 2023; memberships now available at www.chicagofilmfestival.com/membership.
For more information, visit the Festival’s website at https://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/.
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