The Chicago International Film Festival unveiled the full film selections in the World Cinema and Documentary (out of competition) categories, plus the additional guests of honor. Special tributes are planned this year to Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin and past Silver Hugo winner at the Festival; Alfonso Arau, long-time actor and acclaimed director of Like Water for Chocolate; and iconic French filmmaker Claude Lelouch.
The World Cinema selection of forty features comprise a snapshot of the current cinematic landscape from around the world. Previously announced titles in this category include Andre Téchiné’s Being 17, Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden and Asaph Polonsky’s directorial debut One Week and a Day. Additionally, featured titles include the world premiere of The Daughter (La Hija) by filmmaker Luis Sampieri, whose previous film premiered at Berlin Film Festival (Argentina); You’re Killing Me Susana (Me estas matando susana), Roberto Sneider’s devilishly charming romantic comedy starring Gael Garcia Bernal (Mexico); and 93 Days, the drama starring Danny Glover (scheduled to attend the Festival) chronicling impressive effort to contain the spread of Ebola across Nigeria’s most populated city (Nigeria).
The documentaries screening at the October Festival out of competition, including American Anarchist, the story of the infamous counter-culture handbook “The Anarchist Cookbook,” directed by Chicagoland native Charlie Siskel (co-director, Finding Vivian Maier); Academy AwardⓇ-winning documentarian Errol Morris’s latest The B-Side: Elsa Dorman’s Portrait Photography; and the world premiere of Futures Past, featuring Chicago Mercantile Exchange pioneer Leo Melamed amid CME’s momentous recent technical changes. These and the complete list of films below join the previously announced out-of-competition documentaries Abacus: Small Enough to Jail by Chicago’s own Steve James and Kartemquin Films; Fire At Sea, the story of refugees stranded on the island of Lampedusa on their way to Italy; and Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, the story of Hollywood’s most dynamic mother-daughter duo. The Festival’s Documentary Competition selections will be revealed September 19.
Joining Peter Bogdanovich and Steve McQueen as honorees at the Festival, Geraldine Chaplin will attend the Festival for a Tribute and reception on Saturday, October 15 at Essanay Studios, the famed silent film studio where her father shot his first film. Ms. Chaplin will accept a Career Achievement Award that evening. A force behind and in front of the camera for decades, Alfonso Arau attends the Festival for a screening of his 1991 sensual masterpiece Like Water for Chocolate on Monday, October 17. Arau receives the Festival’s Artistic Achievement Award. With a storied filmography over more than half a century, Claude Lelouch receives the unique honor of career-spanning screenings, as the Festival hosts 50th anniversary screenings of the newly restored Canne Film Festival winner A Man and a Woman alongside his latest film Un + Une, starring Jean Dujardin. A longtime Festival favorite, Lelouch received the Silver Hugo at the 47th edition.
The 52nd Chicago International Film Festival is October 13-27.
A snapshot of the contemporary global cinematic landscape.
93 Days — Dir. Steve Gukas, Nigeria
When a feverish Liberian-American ambassador collapses in a hospital in Lagos, it’s clear the long-dreaded 2014 Ebola outbreak has finally arrived at Nigeria’s door. Over 93 gut-wrenching days, health officials rush to prevent the disease’s spread. At ground zero of the exposure is the hospital team (including co-star Danny Glover), whose lives and families are at stake in this compelling drama of sacrifice and courage.
Apprentice – Dir. Boo Junfeng, Singapore / Germany
In this seething social justice drama, a young prison worker studies under the head executioner in preparation to take his job. But the worker has other, vengeful reasons for this most unsettling of career paths. With an oversaturated green-and-yellow color scheme and a captivating lead performance, this intense, stylish film depicts a complicated portrait of Singapore’s longstanding addiction to capital punishment.
Arctic Heart (Le Secret des banquises) — Dir. Marie Madinier, France
With the help of penguins, two humans march toward love in this unique subzero romantic comedy. To get closer to her professor, who studies the flightless cold-weather birds, a graduate student injects herself with the penguin’s genetic material, giving herself up wholeheartedly to science. The sealed research environment generates chemistry between stars Charlotte Le Bon (The Walk) and Guillaume Canet (Tell No One).
Being 17 (Quand on a 17 ans) — Dir. André Téchiné, France
A bitter rivalry between two high school boys cools when circumstances force one to stay with the other’s family over Christmas. But close quarters breed unexpected emotions, as violence gives way to passion. In the heat of adolescent confusion, each boy tries to work out what kind of a man he will become. The picturesque French Pyrenees play home to a delicate coming-of-age drama from a veteran auteur.
Camera Buff (Amator) — Dir. Krzysztof Kieślowski, Poland
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Krzysztof Kieślowski, the Polish cinema auteur (Dekalog, Three Colors) and one of the greatest directors in film history. Celebrate his legacy with this restored version of his career-defining early film, the Gold Hugo winner at the Festival in 1980, about an obsessive amateur filmmaker in Communist Poland who attracts the attention of Party officials. A critique of censorship, and a love letter to filmmaking itself.
The Confessions (Le Confessioni) – Dir. Roberto Andò, Italy / France
When a powerful economist turns up dead during a secret G8 summit in a remote German coastal resort, the chief suspect is a mysterious Italian monk (Toni Servillo, The Great Beauty) on hand for an unusual confession request. The attending world leaders are also wary of other surprise guests-a rock star and a famous children’s author, whose presence could upset the fragile facade of power and order. Italian master Roberto Andó (Viva la Liberta!) skewers the state of European politics in this engrossing, satirical whodunit.
Crosscurrent (Chang jiang tu) — Dir. Yang Chao, China
A visually stunning odyssey traversing China’s Yangtze River, Crosscurrent follows a boat captain who sails upstream to the famed waterway’s source. Over repeated encounters with a beautiful woman who appears younger at each port, it becomes clear the shipman’s journey is taking him back in time through Chinese history. Shot on 35mm film by the celebrated cinematographer of The Assassin, this painterly masterpiece won a top prize at the Berlin Film Festival.
The Daughter (La Hija) — Dir. Luis Sampieri, Argentina
The Amado family, their fortunes dwindling, gathers at their country estate to say farewell to a home that represents a vanishing way of life. When their maid unexpectedly gives birth to a daughter, the family’s fragile façade comes crashing down. Long-simmering resentments, closely guarded secrets, and suppressed rivalries boil to the surface in this engrossing Bergman-esque story, which shrewdly unfolds to expose the cracks at the hearts of its characters.
Dog Days (San fu tian) — Dir. Jordan Schiele, China
In an impoverished Chinese suburb, nightclub dancer Lulu returns home to find her boyfriend and their infant child have gone missing. Stopping at nothing to find her son, she enlists the help of a drag queen at a local cabaret who knows more than he’s letting on. Lulu traverses the dark underbellies of modern Chinese society in her desperate search to recover her child in this bold, harrowing debut feature.
Glory (Slava) — Dirs. Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, Bulgaria/Greece
When Tsanko, a steadfast if simple railway worker, finds bags of cash on the tracks, he does the right thing and calls the authorities. But despite his best intentions, he unwittingly gets caught in a maelstrom of bureaucracy and media agendas. The simple premise of Glory unfolds into a Kafkaesque tale full of arch humor, deep emotion, and confounding personalities: a savvy dissection of class and power in contemporary Bulgaria.
The Handmaiden (Agassi) — Dir. Park Chan-Wook, South Korea
When the infamous director of Oldboy helms an erotic period thriller, all bets are off. In Japan-colonized Korea, two thieves pose as a handmaiden and a count to swindle a Japanese heiress out of her fortune and dump her in the madhouse. But nothing proves simple once the maid and the heiress fall madly in lust. Shocking twists and feverish pacing ensure there’s never a dull moment in this lavish bodice-ripper.
Harmonium (Fuchi ni tatsu) — Dir. Kôji Fukada, Japan
Winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, this wry, existential drama focuses on a middle-class family of three, who graciously invite a stranger to live with them. Quiet tensions and suspicions arise as their unusual guest, hauntingly played by Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer), settles into their home and insidiously upsets the delicate balance of the household.
I Promise You Anarchy (Te prometo anarquía) — Dir. Julio Hernández Cordón, Mexico/Germany
Erotic and transfixing, I takes a voyeuristic look at the street and gang cultures of Mexico City. A young skateboarder pays for an endless summer of drugs and sex by running a black-market blood bank on behalf of drug cartels. Meditative scenes merge with dreamy cinematography and gritty naturalism to create a stunning, cautionary love letter to lives and romances that drain the blood in more ways than one.
Illegitimate (Illegitim) — Dir. Adrian Sitaru, Romania / Poland
This riveting, unconventional morality play revolves around the Anghelescus: family patriarch and obstetrician Victor and his four adult children. When Victor’s activist daughter discovers that her father informed on women seeking illegal abortions under Ceausescu’s regime, the revelation sends the already dysfunctional family into a scandalous downward spiral. Fast-paced and superbly acted, Illegitimate is a compelling family drama that blurs the lines between conviction and hypocrisy.
In Bed with Victoria (Victoria) — Dir. Justine Triet, France
A vibrant romantic comedy buoyed by irresistible lead performances, In Bed with Victoria stars Virginie Efira as a high-powered criminal lawyer trying to juggle her career, kids, and love life without much success. While defending a former friend on assault charges (with the victim’s Dalmatian the only witness), Victoria finds herself caught in a whirlwind of personal and professional chaos. Will she eventually find love again and rediscover herself? Find out in this hilarious and tender tale.
In the Last Days of the City (Akher ayam el medina) — Dir. Tamer El Said, Egypt
This requiem for a lost Cairo follows Khalid, a filmmaker trying to piece together footage of his ailing mother, his neighborhood, and his colleagues on the sidelines of an approaching revolution. In this profound, melancholic portrait, workers’ strikes alternate with Islamist marches and building demolitions, while prophetic conversations hint at the political and social upheaval on the horizon. For Khalid and his compatriots, life will never be the same.
Kaleidoscope — Dir. Rupert Jones, U.K.
Rehabilitated ex-con Carl Byrne (Toby Jones) tries to return to the dating game while adjusting to life on the outside. A hopeful date night is shattered by the unwelcome appearance of his dreaded mother, whose mere presence sends Carl into a psychological tailspin-with deadly consequences. This twisted, Hitchcockian tale of mother and son gleefully explores how just the right push can send anyone over the edge.
Kati Kati — Dir. Mbithi Masya, Kenya/Germany
Kaleche, a young woman, wanders into the otherworldly village of Kati Kati, not knowing who she is or how she got there. She finds a community of eccentrics led by the charismatic Thoma, to whom she is inexplicably drawn. As the residents begin to discover what is keeping them there, and the living and the dead ominously intersect, the film becomes a magical-realist reflection on the legacy of violence and survival in Kenya.
Kékszakállú – Dir. Gastón Solnicki, Argentina
A group of young women inch toward adulthood in this masterfully wrought impressionistic portrait inspired by the Béla Bartók opera Bluebeard’s Castle. It’s summertime in modern-day Argentina and the lithe and languid young women spend their days lounging by the pool, working in factories, experiencing first love, and reflecting on their futures. Excerpts from the opera fade in and out as a patchwork of vignettes create a melancholic glimpse of lives in transition.
Lost in Paris (Paris pieds nus) — Dirs. Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon, France / Belgium
From the dynamic comedy duo of Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon (The Fairy, Rumba) comes a quirky, utterly charming comedy that follows the antics of a hapless Canadian (Gordon) who journeys from her remote winterland to the French capital on a mission to save her aunt (Academy Award® nominee Emmanuelle Riva) from a nursing home. As one mishap leads to another, she becomes entangled with a fleet-footed homeless man (Abel) in a world of Tati-esque deadpan sight gags, class commentary, and brightly colored sets.
Love is Thicker Than Water — Dirs. Ate de Jong and Emily Harris, U.K.
Arthur is a poor Welsh student. Vida is an affluent Jewish cellist. Together, they’re an inseparable pair of lovers. Yet when the fates of their two families converge, their differences push the relationship past its breaking point. Punctuated by quirky animated sequences, Love Is Thicker Than Water is a whimsical modern-day Romeo & Juliet, a sexy, heartwarming tale of upstairs-downstairs love.
Malaria — Dir. Parviz Shahbazi, Iran
A young woman elopes with her boyfriend to Tehran. To cover her tracks, she tells her father she’s been kidnapped. With her family in hot pursuit, the couple takes up with a band of bohemian street musicians and forms an elaborate plan for a more permanent escape. Mixing real-life on-the-streets footage with a tense lovers-on-the-run drama, Festival alum Parviz Shahbazi crafts a lively look at the cultural clashes that exist deep within Iranian society.
Ministry of Love (Ministarstvo ljubavi) — Dir. Pavo Marinković, Croatia/ Czech Republic
A hapless biologist-turned-bureaucrat lands the least desirable government job in Croatia: spying on war widows in order to cut off their pensions should they find new partners. But what his bosses, including his father-in-law, don’t know is that he just may be romance’s unlikeliest champion. Ministry Of Love is a quirky, sardonic, blisteringly funny road trip through the idiosyncrasies of finding one’s passion in the unlikeliest of places.
Moon in the 12th House (Yareach BeBayit 12) – Dir. Dorit Hakim, Israel
Sisters Mira and Lenny, separated at youth by traumatic circumstances, are young women when they finally meet again. The older and wilder Mira, who works in a hip Tel Aviv nightclub, unexpectedly returns to their childhood home, where the dutiful Lenny has stayed to care for their father. This reunion leads them on an emotional journey of healing and reconciliation. Commanding performances and hypnotic cinematography elevate this moving meditation on family ties and lost youth.
Night of a 1000 Hours (Die Nacht der 1000 Stunden) — Dir. Virgil Widrich, Luxembourg / Austria
When the Ullrichs gather at their Vienna palace to determine who will inherit the family business, the matriarch drops dead just as she’s about to sign on the dotted line. But much to everyone’s surprise, she reappears. And she’s not the only one. Generations of befuddled, deceased ancestors also rise up, bringing with them long-buried family secrets, including unsavory ties to Austria’s fascist history. This inventive, Clue-like mystery-cum-love-story comes to terms with the past-as it’s happening.
The Oath (Eiðurinn) — Dir. Baltasar Kormákur, Iceland
After a string of Hollywood action hits (2 Guns, Everest), Baltasar Kormákur returns to his native Iceland to direct and star in this tense, intimate thriller. A celebrated surgeon and devoted family man sees his daughter slipping away from him at the hands of a sleazy drug dealer. The drastic measures he takes to save her trigger a profound ripple effect that will change his family forever.
One Week and a Day (Shavua ve Yom) — Dir. Asaph Polonsky, Israel
The Shiva, the weeklong Jewish grieving period for the dead, has ended. But for one older Israeli couple mourning their son, the “fun” (if you can call it that) is just beginning. Disputes over pot and grave plots, the antics of a neighbor’s slacker son, and one wild air guitar session are all part of the healing process in this black comedy that convinces us to stare down death with a smile.
Ordinary People (Pamilya Ordinaryo) — Dir. Eduardo Roy Jr., Philippines
In this gritty, hard-knock drama, teenagers Jane and Aries run with a group of street kids who navigate the chaos of Manila working as pickpockets and petty thieves. The young couple’s lives take a radical turn when they become teenage parents. Desperate to care for her newborn, Jane falls prey to a cross-dressing conman, who kidnaps and then sells their child. With nothing left to lose, the two resort to desperate measures to reunite their family.
Panamerican Machinery (Maquinaria Panamericana) – Dir. Joaquin del Paso, Mexico
Panamerican Machinery may be the happiest place in the world to work. Factory hands and management get along like one tight-knit family as they celebrate birthdays with cake and are encouraged by daily motivational messages. But when the company president suddenly dies, the façade quickly crumbles. Refusing to let go of the dream, the workers lock themselves in the factory, vowing to do whatever it takes to uphold their boss’s legacy. This endearingly quirky, devilishly dark satire tips its cap to Luis Buñuel.
Paris 05:59 (Théo et Hugo dans le même bâteau) — Dirs. Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, France
At a crowded bathhouse, sparks fly between two young men who meet, have sex, and spend the rest of the night walking around Paris, trying to determine whether their instant connection goes beyond the physical. A raw, emotionally charged hybrid of Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy and Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, Paris 05:59 transpires in (mostly) real time over the course of one memorable evening in the City of Lights.
Rauf — Dirs. Baris Kaya and Soner Caner, Turkey
An impressionable young boy learns about love and death in the rugged conflict zone of Eastern Turkey. Amid the sounds of rockets exploding just beyond his Kurdish village, Rauf apprentices with a busy coffin maker and sets out on a quest to find pink fabric for the object of his affections. Wonderful characters and evocative cinematography blend to create a wistful story of coming-of-age in a time of war.
Saint George (São Jorge) — Dir. Marco Martins, Portugal / France
In the wake of Portugal’s 2011 financial crisis, an earnest, out-of-work boxer named Jorge struggles to provide for his girlfriend, who has given up on the promise of a better future together, and their son. Out of desperation, Jorge begins working as hired muscle for an unforgiving debt collection agency. Brutal, engrossing, and strikingly realistic, Jorge’s story puts a deeply human face on a nation’s economic troubles.
Soul on a String (Pisheng shang de hun) — Dir. Zhang Yang, China
After discovering a sacred stone in the mouth of a deer, Taibei, a lone Tibetan cowboy, embarks on a spiritual quest: to bring it back to a holy mountain. On the way, he encounters a passionate woman, a mute with psychic powers, and two vengeful brothers. With gorgeous, sweeping cinematography of Tibet’s majestic steppes and sprawling deserts, this unconventional Asian Western pairs swordfights with the Buddhist philosophy of letting go.
Staying Vertical (Rester vertical) – Dir. Alain Guiraudie, France
From the director of the highly acclaimed Stranger by the Lake comes a bizarre, sexy portrait of a frustrated artist. Searching for inspiration in the remote French countryside, filmmaker Leo impregnates a shepherdess. When she abandons him and their newborn son, he sets out on a crazy journey through his own sexuality. Real life collides with the shocking and absurd.
Sweet Dreams (Fei bei sogni) – Dir. Marco Bellocchio, Italy / France
Turin, 1969. Nine-year-old Massimo’s idyllic childhood is shattered by the mysterious death of his mother, and the young boy is inconsolable in the face of this brutal loss. Years later, now an accomplished journalist, Massimo is forced to come to terms with his personal trauma as he prepares to sell his childhood home. Master Italian filmmaker Marco Bellochio (My Mother’s Smile) directs this powerful and tender drama co-starring Bérénice Bejo (The Artist).
The Teacher (Ucitelka) — Dir. Jan Hřebejk, Slovak Republic / Czech Republic
In Bratislava during the waning days of Communist rule, a cunning middle school teacher (a terrific Zuzana Maurery) uses her Party connections to manipulate students, parents, and co-workers alike for her own personal gain. This piercing, shrewd story uses dark humor to expose the insidious and far-reaching effects of corruption at all levels of society. From Czech favorite Jan Hřebejk (an Academy Award® nominee for Divided We Fall), The Teacher is a richly sardonic and intelligent look at totalitarianism in all its forms.
The Together Project (L’Effet aquatique) — Dir. Solveig Anspach, France/Iceland
Smitten by a spirited swimming instructor at the local pool, a French-Arab construction worker signs up to take private lessons-even though he already knows how to swim. But when he is shamelessly caught in his bald-faced lie, he’ll have to travel all the way to Iceland to win back his crush’s trust. It’s sink or swim in this quirky romantic comedy, the final film by the late, great director Solveig Anspach (Queen of Montreuil).
Un + Une – Dir. Claude Lelouch, France
In Claude Lelouch’s latest, a scintillating romance, Jean Dujardin (The Artist) stars as a famous film composer who goes to India to write a score for a Bollywood adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. There, he meets the beautiful wife of the French ambassador (Elsa Zylberstein, I’ve Loved You So Long), and soon the predestined paramours find themselves entangled in a steamy and complicated affair, in this modern spin on his classic A Man and a Woman.
Walk With Me (De standhaftige) — Dir. Lisa Ohlin, Denmark
In this romantic tale of able minds and bodies, battle-hardened soldier Thomas won’t let the loss of his legs in Afghanistan thwart his dream of returning to combat. But to train on his prosthetics, he’ll need the help of a lively ballet dancer struggling with her own demons. As his family worries he’s pushing his recovery too fast, Thomas must learn there’s more to life than war.
You’re Killing Me Susana (Me estas matando Susana) — Dir. Roberto Sneider, Mexico
Gael García Bernal is effortlessly charming in this hilarious culture-shock comedy about a womanizing Mexican actor whose wife abandons him in the dead of night. Lovesick and a bit bullheaded, he tracks her down to a writer’s conference in Iowa, provoking one international incident after another as he pursues her across the border. Soon, this couple will test the limits of their patience-and their love.
Zoology (Zoologiya) — Dir. Ivan I. Tverdovskiy, Russia/France
This wholly original “ugly duckling” comedy follows Natasha, a Russian spinster who lives with her overbearing mother and works a low-level job at the local zoo. More comfortable with the animals than with humans, one day she unexpectedly starts growing a tail-and the appendage leads to a new lease on life. Neighbors whisper about a demon’s work, but for Natasha, getting in touch with her animal side is the best thing that could have happened to her.
DOCUMENTARY (Out of Competition)
From the personal to the political, these films represent the best new nonfiction films.
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail — Dir. Steve James, U.S.
From acclaimed Chicago filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) comes a saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings Bank in New York’s Chinatown. Accused of mortgage fraud, the Sungs must defend themselves and their dignity, even as the true architects of the 2008 financial crisis walk free. This high-stakes courtroom documentary screens as part of Kartemquin Films’ 50th anniversary.
American Anarchist — Dir. Charlie Siskel, U.S.
From the co-director of the Academy Award®-nominated Finding Vivian Maier comes another captivating portrait of a private subject: William Powell, who at 19 authored the infamous militant manifesto The Anarchist Cookbook. Now an educator in his 60s, Powell is deeply haunted by his own creation. In this cautionary tale of rebellion and its unintended effects, Chicago native Charlie Siskel catches up with a man caught between regret and responsibility.
The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography — Dir. Errol Morris, U.S.
Academy Award®-winner Errol Morris (The Fog of War) offers his most intimate work yet: a profile of his friend, Elsa Dorfman. A prominent photographer of such ’60s icons as Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan, Dorfman was one of the first artists to utilize large-format Polaroid cameras. But with her preferred film stock nearly extinct, Dorfman decides to retire. Morris captures her past and present as he examines the fragility and perishability of traditional photography-and our lives.
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds — Dirs. Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens, U.S.
Screen icons Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ in the Rain) and Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) make for one of the most memorable mother-daughter pairs in Hollywood history. But two generations of showbiz life is enough to warp any family dynamic. In this fantastically entertaining warts-and-all portrait, these legendary female leads radiate wit and deep-rooted dysfunction as they battle with aging, the whims of celebrity, and each other.
Do Not Resist — Dir. Craig Atkinson, U.S.
Urgent and engrossing, this award-winning documentary is a provocative investigation of police militarization in America. From witnessing military-style protest crackdowns in Ferguson, Missouri to riding along with a South Carolina S.W.A.T. team, director Craig Atkinson captures our current policing policies with blunt and visually stunning force. With post-screening panel discussion.
The Eagle Huntress — Dir. Otto Bell, U.S./Mongolia
The Eagle Huntress follows Aisholopan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter, and rises to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries. Set against the breathtaking expanse of the Mongolian steppe, the film features some of the most awe-inspiring cinematography ever captured in a documentary.
Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare) — Dir. Gianfranco Rosi, Italy / France
This top prizewinner at the Berlin Film Festival transports us to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, where scores of refugees from Africa and the Middle East end up in overcrowded boats trying to reach the mainland. While migrants struggle to survive, and sing their tragic stories in detention centers, an innocent Italian boy lights firecrackers on the beach and tries to prepare for a fisherman’s way of life. Powerful, lyrical filmmaking bridges the gap between both worlds with poeticism and urgency.
Futures Past — Dir. Jordan Melamed, U.S.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and its prickly pioneer, Leo Melamed, anchor this poignant documentary about a father, a son, and the struggle for success. Director Jordan Melamed, Leo’s son, skillfully portrays his competitive relationship with his dad alongside the CME’s recent period of momentous technological change. Nearly 10 years in the making, Futures Past deftly examines the importance of human contact, whether in families or in “the pits.”
Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story — Dir. Brett A. Schwartz, U.S.
From childhood homelessness to international recognition, Chicago chef and molecular gastronomist Homaro Cantu was a turbine of creativity, business savvy, and scientific prowess. Using intimate interviews with friends, associates, and Cantu himself, Insatiable cooks up an in-depth picture of a tragic figure feeding Chicago’s foodies with extravagant concoctions, while attempting to tackle world hunger and obesity with his passion project: the miracle berry.
The Last Laugh — Dir. Ferne Pearlstein, U.S.
Can the Holocaust be funny? In this witty and moving documentary, spanning decades of humor on the most taboo of subjects, button-pushing comics like Mel Brooks and Sarah Silverman discuss why and how they joke about the genocide of their own people, from “Springtime for Hitler” to stand-up zingers. Meanwhile, Holocaust survivors and Jewish community leaders try to decide when they can laugh and when they draw the line. 85 min.
My Journey Through French Cinema (Voyage A Travers Le Cinema Français)
— Dir. Bertrand Tavernier, France
From the celebrated director of A Sunday in the Country comes this loving tribute to the history of Gallic film. While Truffaut and Godard get their due, Bertrand Tavernier’s exquisitely edited montage focuses more on his own personal “movie godfathers” (Jean-Pierre Melville, Claude Sautet) and other kinsman in craft (Jacques Becker, Marcel Carné). A masterclass in the art of the moving image, this impassioned compendium of French classics is also an ode to the universal power of cinema.
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice — Dir. Deborah Riley Draper, U.S.
Jesse Owens wasn’t the only black athlete who drew Adolf Hitler’s ire. In this enlightening story of glory in the face of racial oppression, director Deborah Riley Draper profiles the 18 black athletes, including Chicago’s own Ralph Metcalfe and Tidye Pickett, who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Intimate archival footage illuminates how these “Black Eagles” defied bigotry and hatred through their athletic prowess.
One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich & the Lost American Film — Dir. Bill Teck, U.S.
Peter Bogdanovich, one of the preeminent directors of ’70s New Hollywood (The Last Picture Show), receives a poignant tribute in this look at his storied career. Pivoting around his 1981 screwball detective yarn They All Laughed, Bill Teck’s film examines the personal tragedy that haunted his misunderstood masterpiece: the murder of his star and lover, Dorothy Stratten. Bogdanovich will attend the screening and receive a Tribute and Lifetime Achievement Award.
Raising Bertie — Dir. Margaret Byrne, U.S.
Three young African-American men enter adulthood over a period of six years in Bertie County, North Carolina, a community that lives in the shadow of the 27 prisons that exist within a 100-mile radius. Here, local youth are faced with a stark choice: either get their education in the classroom, or in jail. This latest longitudinal gem from Kartemquin Films coincides with the historic Chicago documentary studio’s 50th anniversary.
Starless Dreams (Royahaye Dame Sobh) — Dir. Mehrdad Oskouei, Iran
One of the year’s most acclaimed documentaries, Starless Dreams plunges us into the lives of teenage girls at a juvenile detention center on the outskirts of Tehran. As the New Year approaches, the innocent-seeming youngsters reveal, with surprising candor, the circumstances behind their incarceration, from patricide to bank robbery. With incredible empathy, startling access, and visual assuredness, this heartbreaking film delivers an unforgettable cinematic portrayal of innocence lost and found.
Strike a Pose — Dirs. Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan, Netherlands/Belgium
Go behind the curtains of Madonna’s controversial 1990 “Blonde Ambition” tour to meet the pop star’s backup dancers, whose lives were changed forever by their time in the spotlight. While some privately struggled with H.I.V. diagnoses, they became sensational symbols of sexual freedom. This electrifying look at celebrity uses amazing archival footage and emotional testimony to craft a stirring, intimate chronicle of fame in the shadow of the A.I.D.S. crisis.
Two Trains Runnin’ — Dir. Sam Pollard, U.S.
In 1964, two different groups of music fans set off to find the lost titans of blues in Mississippi. Meanwhile, activists worked tirelessly in the state trying to register African-Americans to vote. Through its vivid mix of interviews, animated re-enactments, and new performances, Two Trains Runnin’ shows how these parties converged on one fateful summer day. The venerable Sam Pollard (Eyes on the Prize) and narrator Common play us the soundtrack to a revolution.
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? (Mi yohav oti achshav?) — Dirs. Barak Heymann and Tomer Heymann, Israel
Saar Maoz is a 39-year-old Israeli man who has found his adopted home and voice as a member of the London Gay Men’s Chorus. But after being diagnosed with H.I.V., he longs to make amends with his estranged family back in Israel. To find their love and acceptance, this proud gay man must confront their fears and prejudices. An Audience Award winner at the Berlin Film Festival, this inspiring true story finds harmony in family and forgiveness.
Tribute: Geraldine Chaplin – Saturday, October 15
Join us for this one-of-a-kind salute to the legendary actress, Silver Hugo winner, and Hollywood royalty. Known for her acclaimed performances in Doctor Zhivago, Nashville, and Welcome to L.A., the daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill will appear onstage at the Essanay Studios-the exact soundstage where her father shot his first film. Clips from Geraldine Chaplin’s decades-spanning film career will accompany a discussion with film critic and historian David Robinson, author of Chaplin, the official biography of Charlie Chaplin. She will receive the Festival’s career achievement award. This evening is not to be missed! Sponsored by Wintrust Community Banks
Tribute: Alfonso Arau – Monday, October 17
The multitalented Mexican actor-director Alfonso Arau has lit up the screen for decades. In front of the camera he has entertained in such classic films as The Wild Bunch and Romancing the Stone, while behind it, he has channeled the romance and the mysticism of Mexican culture into spellbinding images. In a tribute to him, the Festival screens his sensual 1991 magical-realist masterpiece Like Water for Chocolate, which was Mexico’s official Best Foreign Language Film entry to the Academy Awards®. Arau will attend and receive the Festival’s artistic achievement award. Sponsored by AARP and Wansas Tequila
Tribute: Peter Bogdanovich – Sunday, October 16
A member of the original “new wave” of filmmakers, Peter Bogdanovich’s most critically acclaimed film is 1971’s The Last Picture Show. Currently discussing past filmmakers and their films at blogdanovich.com, his decades-spanning career as actor, filmmaker, author and documentarian has garnered Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominations and a Best Screenplay BAFTA Award for The Last Picture Show. Bill Teck’s One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich and the Lost American Film chronicles the woes that surrounded Bogdanovich’s 1981 production of They All Laughed, the madcap private-eye caper starring Audrey Hepburn.
A Tribute to Steve McQueen – Saturday, October 22
Academy Award® winner Steve McQueen is a British filmmaker and artist, renowned for his visceral, deeply humane storytelling. His films include Hunger, Shame, and 12 Years a Slave, which received outstanding critical acclaim and accolades. The Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards®, PGA, BAFTA and Golden Globes, to name but a few, 12 Years a Slave received ten BAFTA nominations, nine Academy Award® nominations, and seven Golden Globe nominations. A recipient of the Turner Prize, McQueen’s work is held in museum collections around the world. In 2011 he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to visual arts. Sponsored by AARP, with support from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Claude Lelouch: Romantic – Various screening times
Since hiding from the Gestapo in a movie theater during WWII, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch has ascended to become one of the world’s most revered directors. A longtime Festival favorite who received the Silver Hugo at the 47th edition, Lelouch first rose to prominence with his Cannes- and Academy Award®-winning 1966 romance A Man and a Woman, now celebrating its 50th anniversary at the Festival with a restored print. With more than 50 films under his belt, Lelouch continues to work regularly today, and the Festival will also present his most recent film, Un + Une, starring Jean Dujardin.