The Chicago International Film Festival, revealed its first 24 films and several events to be featured at the 51st edition of the Festival taking place this October 15 to 29 2015.  This initial lineup announcement includes the top prizewinner from the Cannes Film Festival, a look at what it takes to build one of the world’s greatest restaurants, a once-lost Sherlock Holmes film, a Guillermo del Toro-produced buddy movie, and breakout performances from Michael Caine, Cate Blanchett, and Sarah Silverman.

“This preview into our 51st Festival includes innovative new work representing a variety of cultures and ideas from around the world, which pays tribute to our mission,” said Michael Kutza, Founder and Artistic Director of the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival. “It has always been my goal to bring the most exciting work in contemporary international cinema to Chicago during the Chicago International Film Festival. This year is no different.”


An Evening with Howard Shore
Sunday, October 18th
Three-time Oscar® winner Howard Shore is one of cinema’s most celebrated composers. Along with scoring the entire Lord Of the Rings trilogy, Shore has created soaring, propulsive compositions for the greats, from Martin Scorsese to David Cronenberg’s entire oeuvre. Shore will reflect on his career in film in a can’t-miss event.

Industry Tribute: Gigi Pritzker
Thursday, October 22th
Prolific film executive Gigi Pritzker headlines Industry Days, the Festival’s new hub for filmmakers and industry professionals. Producer of such noted films as Jon Stewart’s Rosewater and the Ryan Gosling thriller Drive, Pritzker will be celebrated with an onstage conversation along with film clips from her producing achievements.

All films listed will receive their Chicago premiere at the Festival unless otherwise indicated.

45 Years
Country: UK
Director: Andrew Haigh

45 Years Andrew Haigh
Synopsis: Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling deliver award-winning performances in this engrossing marital drama. A couple celebrating their 45th anniversary receive a jolt when they learn that the corpse of a woman from the husband’s past has been discovered in a melting glacier, and he’s listed as her next-of-kin.

Country: Japan
Director: Naomi Kawase
Synopsis: Sweet red bean paste is the filling in this poignant tale of life, compassion, and delicious desserts. An uninspired pastry chef is brought to life when a plucky septuagenarian’s irresistible homemade recipe turns his red bean pancakes into a local hit. The latest from highly regarded Japanese auteur Naomi Kawase is a tasty philosophical dish.

Country: Ireland/UK/Canada
Director: John Crowley
Synopsis: BROOKLYN tells the moving story of Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland for the shores of New York, where she finds love. But unexpected developments force her to choose between her family’s home and her adopted land.

Country: USA
Director: Todd Haynes

CAROL Starring Cate Blanchett
Synopsis: In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, CAROL follows two women (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change.

Cemetery of Splendor (Rak ti Khon Kaen)
Country: Thailand
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Synopsis: Thai surrealist master and School of the Art Institute of Chicago alum Apichatpong Weerasethakul astounds with a deeply spiritual drama about a group of soldiers who catch a strange coma after disturbing ancient royal graves. While a hospital volunteer nurses the ill, spirits lull us into a captivating cinematic dreamscape.

Country: South Africa
Director: Charlie Vundla
Synopsis: In this wry, intimate drama, a young American professor in Johannesburg falls apart after his gorgeous wife leaves him for another man. His old school chum, now a homeless life coach, props him back up. But when his wife reappears at his doorstep, she sparks a gripping chain of deception.

Dheepan (pictured in main image above)
Country: France
Director: Jacques Audiard
Synopsis: Winner of the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Jacques Audiard’s explosive immigrant drama depicts a Sri Lankan rebel fighter who attempts a better life in Paris under a dead man’s identity. Real-life novelist and former child soldier Antonythasan Jesuthasan gives a breakout lead performance.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato
Country: Netherlands
Director: Peter Greenaway
Synopsis: This radical, stylistically brilliant biopic chronicles Soviet revolutionary filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s 1931 sojourn to Mexico, where, in Peter Greenaway’s imaginative retelling, he lost his virginity to his male guide. A treat for cinephiles, the film adapts Eisenstein’s own feverish editing rhythms and features a giddy performance by Elmer Bäck as Eisenstein.

For Grace
Country: USA
Director: Kevin Pang and Mark Helenowski
Synopsis: After cooking his way through Chicago’s top kitchens, renowned Chef Curtis Duffy begins plans for his dream establishment, Grace. A delicious look at what it takes to build one of the world’s greatest restaurants, and the complex story of a man forging a new future out of his traumatic past.

Country: France/USA
Director: Kent Jones
Synopsis: In 1962, Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut conducted a weeklong conversation about the craft of Hitchcock’s movies, and of cinema itself. The result: the seminal book Hitchcock/Truffaut. This brilliant behind-the-scenes account of their conversation—along with memorable clips from Hitch’s works—is an inspiring and illuminating look inside the mind of a master craftsman.

The Homecoming (Blóðberg)
Country: Iceland
Director: Björn Hlynur Haraldsson
Synopsis: Self-help author Gunnar’s humdrum routine is shaken when he realizes his son’s new fiancée may be a bit closer to him than they think. He must choose between keeping his secret or protecting his son. A dark, unpredictable “family” comedy ensues, as everyone scrambles to recover their grip on the truth.

I Smile Back
Country: USA
Director: Adam Salky
Synopsis: I SMILE BACK explores the life of Laney (Sarah Silverman), an attractive, intelligent suburban wife and devoted mother of two adorable children. She has the perfect husband, a pristine house, and a shiny SUV for carting the children to their next activity. However, just beneath the façade lie depression and disillusionment that send her careening into a secret world of reckless compulsion. Only very real danger will force her to face the painful root of her destructiveness and its crumbling effect on those she loves.

The Infinite Happiness
Country: France/Denmark
Director: Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine
Synopsis: Copenhagen’s “8 House,” an ultramodern loop of apartments by architect Bjarke Ingels, reinvents the concept of “home.” Its 500 residents traverse all nine floors by bike and hike on its lush green roofs. This exuberant documentary profiles the (mostly) happy residents, offering a hopeful, inspired picture of communal living by design.

James White
Country: USA
Director: Josh Mond
Synopsis: A violent, emotionally unstable young man, still processing the recent death of his long-absent father, must care for the now terminally ill mother who raised him. This raw, affecting drama features a revelatory lead performance from Christopher Abbott (Girls), with Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City) as his ailing mother.

Mia Madre
Country: Italy
Director: Nanni Moretti
Synopsis: John Turturro provides madcap comic relief as a self-important American actor in master filmmaker Nanni Moretti’s latest autobiographical work. A director tries to complete her movie while caring for her much-beloved hospital-bound mother. Real life and art clash violently in this moving personal drama about the heavy cost of artistic integrity.

Orphans of Eldorado (Órfãos do Eldorado)
Country: Brazil
Director: Guilherme Coelho
Synopsis: In this sensual, mythical tale of obsession, a man returns to his hometown by the Amazon, where he resumes a dangerous old affair and begins another one with a woman who seems to emerge and disappear from the river itself. An immersive film that plunges into Oedipal desires and Brazilian legends.

A Perfect Day (Un día perfecto)
Country: Spain
Director: Fernando León de Aranoa
Synopsis: Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins join a motley crew of aid workers bumbling through the Balkan War in this M*A*S*H*-like black comedy about struggling to do good in bad places. When fishing a corpse out of a well, a sense of humor helps.

Sherlock Holmes (1916)
Country: USA
Director: Arthur Berthelet
Synopsis: Lost for nearly a century, this silent-era screen incarnation of the classic character (one of the first) miraculously reappeared last year in a French cinema archive. Filmed at Chicago’s own Essanay Studios and starring William Gillette, theater’s most famous Holmes of the time, the film is a once-in-a-lifetime treat.

Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows
Country: USA
Director: Rob Hatch-Miller
Synopsis: Velvet-voiced soul singer Syl Johnson struggled for decades before leaving the biz in the 1980s to open a Chicago fried-fish chain. Since then, he’s become one of the most-sampled artists in hip-hop. With a lively soundtrack, this buoyant world premiere documentary celebrates one man who can’t stop the music.

They Look Like People
Country: USA
Director: Perry Blackshear
Synopsis: After receiving an ominous phone call, a young man crashing his friend’s flat becomes convinced mysterious creatures are inhabiting the bodies of everyone around him. This tension-filled horror indie will leave you on high alert, taking a good look at your co-worker, your neighbor… and even your best friend.

The Thin Yellow Line (La delgada línea amarilla)
Country: Mexico
Director: Ceslo García
Synopsis: This hilarious Guillermo del Toro-produced buddy movie follows five men tasked with painting the median line on a lonely rural road. Good-natured male bonding blends with gorgeous landscape cinematography in this thoughtful portrayal of a day’s honest work in modern Mexico.

Country: Italy
Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Youth, Paolo Sorrentino
Synopsis: Fred (Michael Caine), an acclaimed composer, vacations in the Swiss Alps with his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and best friend Mick (Harvey Keitel), a renowned filmmaker. While Mick finishes the screenplay for his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. The men find that the most important experiences can come later in life.

Short Films
Funny, quirky, striking, moving, eye-opening… Find your own personal gem in our selection of shorts featuring animation, documentary, drama, horror, and experimental works from international and local talent. Highlights from this year’s program include: Feminist erotic filmmaker ERIKA LUST shows off her explicit works and discusses sex from the female perspective. In the animated WAVES ’98, a Beirut drifter stumbles into a multicolored, imaginary world.

Subscribe for Blog Updates

Sign up for our latest updates.