The 2016 Chicago International Film Festival today announced the complete film and event lineup, including the International Feature Competition, Documentary Competition and Special Presentations. Additionally announced are the festival selections that comprise each of the Festival’s thematic programs – Black Perspectives, OutLook, Cinema of the Americas and City & State. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, September 21 for Cinema/Chicago members and September 23 for the general public.
In competition for the Festival’s top honor, the Gold Hugo, are previously announced selections including After The Storm (Kore-eda Hirokazu), Neruda (Pablo Larraín, and Chile’s Official Submission to the Academy AwardsⓇ) and The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi, and Iran’s Official Submission to the Academy AwardsⓇ). Also in competition this year is the North American premiere of Paradise, Andrei Konchalovsky’s taut war-time drama that follows three people as their lives fatefully intersect; and the U.S. premiere of award-winning director Mijke de Jon’s Layla M., the story of a young woman’s radicalization.
Following the announcement last week of the out-of-competition Documentary selections, the Festival today announces the full Documentary Competition selections. The nine non-fiction films in this category include the World Premiere of Among Wolves, the unexpected story of a humanitarian biker gang in the Balkans directed by Chicago’s own Shawn Convey; and the North American premiere of Samuel in the Clouds, Pieter Van Eecke’s haunting account of one of the highest ski slopes in the world and the man who works as its lift operator. Also featured are Random Acts of Legacy (Ali Kazimi), Karl Marx City (Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker), A Mere Breath (Monica Lazurean-Gorgan) and more; the full list follows.
Alongside the best and brightest in new independent filmmaking, the Festival will feature first Chicago screenings of some of the Fall’s most anticipated theatrical releases. These Special Presentations include Lion, directed by Garth Davis and starring Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and Dev Patel in the story of a young man who sets out to find his family – with the help of Google Earth – twenty-five years after being adopted; Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, starring Adam Driver as a bus driver with artistic dreams and a quiet life in Paterson, New Jersey; and the newly restored Daughters of the Dust, Julie Dash’s groundbreaking story of tradition, legacy and culture in one African American family at the turn of the century. The film screens as part of the 20th anniversary of Black Perspectives; Julie Dash is scheduled to attend the Festival.
With this full announcement of the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival film selections, Special Presentations and events, the Festival’s thematic programs come into focus, as selections from various categories comprise the Black Perspectives, OutLook, City & State and Cinema of the Americas programs. Each represents the strongest filmmaking of the year in their respective niches, from African-American indie gems to those locally-produced films from Chicago and across the state.
The 52nd Chicago International Film Festival is October 13-27.
2016 Chicago International Film Festival Lineup
International Feature Competition
Superb new films competing for the Festival’s top honors.
Patron: Penelope R. and Robert Steiner
24 Weeks (24 Wochen) – Dor. Anne Zohra Berrached, Germany
A popular stand-up comedian finds herself in a decidedly unfunny situation when her doctors inform her, several months into her pregnancy, that her unborn child will likely have both Down syndrome and a serious heart condition. As she and her husband face the life-altering choice of whether or not to have an abortion, the media goes public with her private dilemma. This poignant, compelling drama approaches its difficult subject with honesty and sensitivity.
After the Storm (Umi yori mo mada fukaku) — Dir. Kore-eda Hirokazu, Japan
Ryota is a deadbeat private detective and struggling novelist who would grift his mother for a quick buck (and does). But when he’s forced to wait out a typhoon in her tiny apartment, alongside his alienated ex-wife and son, the broken family confronts their grandest dreams and deepest failures over the course of one night. Kore-eda Hirokazu (Still Walking), the master of domestic drama, renders an intimate, compassionate family portrait.
Christine — Dir. Antonio Campos, U.S.
In 1974, Florida newscaster Christine Chubbuck shot herself during a live TV broadcast. Dramatizing the events that led to her death, this deeply riveting drama is propelled by a stunning performance from Rebecca Hall (Vicky Christina Barcelona) as a wounded soul struggling with depression, unrealized ambition, and the bloodthirsty landscape of TV news. Devastating and intelligent, Christine is a portrait of a woman’s downward spiral and a culture incapable of stopping it.
The Commune (Kollektivet) — Dir. Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark
Communal living: utopian ideal, or delusional hippie fantasy? One Danish family in the 1970s will find out the hard way after they invite friends and strangers alike to move into their sprawling family mansion. If the political and philosophical rifts don’t put friendships and marriages to the test, the illicit romances certainly will. The director of The Hunt and The Celebration plumbs his own communal upbringing for a freewheeling drama about messy human lives.
Graduation (Bacalaureat) — Dir. Cristian Mungiu, Romania/France
Dr. Romeo has long prided himself on his personal and professional ethics. When his daughter, on the verge of earning a scholarship to study abroad and escape Romania, is attacked before her final exams, he must decide to what lengths he is willing to go to ensure her success. The latest masterwork from the visionary behind 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a searing look at the social and personal costs of corruption.
The Last Family (Ostatnia rodzina) — Dir. Jan P. Matuszyński, Poland
An unsettling and wryly subversive portrait of Polish surrealist painter Zdzisław Beksiński, his wife, and their neurotic DJ son, The Last Family is like no biopic you’ve seen before. Less interested in Beksiński’s surrealist art and more in his combustible family dynamics, the film patiently traverses the years from 1977 to 2005 as the parents try to cope with their unhinged son against a backdrop of funerals, near-death experiences, and changing trends in pop music.
Layla M. — Dir. Mijke de Jong, Netherlands/Belgium
A Dutch-Moroccan teen living in Amsterdam, fed up with the discrimination she and other Muslims face on a daily basis, decides to take action. Street protests and online activism are only the beginning of her unsettling journey into fanaticism. Nora El Koussour delivers a riveting performance as the headstrong rebel Layla, in this empathetic and incendiary exploration of the causes and consequences of radicalization.
Like Crazy (La pazza gioia) — Dir. Paolo Virzi, Italy / France
Two unstable women-a prattling pathological liar and a quiet depressive-break free from a mental institution and take Tuscany by storm. One fancies herself a member of the upper crust, while the other is still nursing a devastating breakdown from years ago. Celebrate life outside the box with this edgy, hysterical dark comedy that pokes fun at contemporary Italian values and questions what it means to be truly sane.
Neruda — Dir. Pablo Larraín, Chile/Argentina
Forget everything you know about Pablo Neruda. In this fanciful “anti-bio,” the legendary Communist poet and senator goes on the lam after the Chilean government issues a warrant for his arrest. Across Chile, Neruda eludes a fictional, self-important Clouseau-like detective (Gael García Bernal), a Pinochet lackey determined to bring him to justice. The director of Festival Silver Hugo winner The Club reveals profound truths about one of this century’s finest writers.
Paradise (Rai) — Dir. Andrei Konchalovsky, Russia / Germany
The lives of three different souls intertwine in Nazi Europe: a Russian member of the French resistance arrested for hiding Jews; the French collaborator who entraps her; and an idealistic if naïve aristocratic SS officer assigned to root out corruption in the concentration camps. Each recounts their stories, as we flash back to the moments when their lives fatefully intersected. In luminous black-and-white, this striking period drama from the director of Runaway Train chillingly recounts the costs exacted by loyalty to one’s convictions.
The Salesman (Forushande) — Dir. Asghar Farhadi, Iran/France
After a Tehran couple barely escapes their crumbling apartment building, they think the worst is over. But a world of trouble unfolds when they move into their new home and are mistaken for the previous tenant. From the Academy Award®-winning director of A Separation, this multi-layered, wildly suspenseful drama reveals deep domestic and social fissures in the wake of a personal tragedy.
Sieranevada — Dir. Cristi Puiu, Romania
In Romania, Lary and his wife travel to his mother’s crowded, dark apartment to attend a memorial service for his recently deceased father. Dark truths of the family’s past slowly emerge as everyone wrestles with the patriarch’s complicated legacy. The talk of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the latest uncompromising drama from the acclaimed director of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu deftly captures a family in pain, with a cast of deeply sympathetic characters.
The Student ((M)uchenik) — Dir. Kirill Serebrennikov, Russia
Righteous fundamentalism is the weapon of choice for Venya, a disturbed teenager hellbent on exposing hypocrisy within Russian society. Brandishing a Bible, he challenges his mother, classmates, and teachers about moral decadence up to (and, in some cases, beyond) their breaking points. In Kirill Serebrennikov’s provocative, pitch-black satire, few institutions-secular or religious-are spared from savage criticism.
Things to Come (L’avenir) — Dir. Mia Hansen-Løve, France / Germany
Isabelle Huppert stars as Nathalie, a renowned philosophy professor whose life unexpectedly falls apart: her husband leaves her for another woman, while her publisher decides to stop printing her once field-defining textbook. But instead of resigning to middle age, Nathalie embraces the freedom to reinvent herself, matching wits with a former student and following a group of young idealists. This profoundly humanist drama is a gentle rebuke to fatalism.
United States of Love (Zjednoczone stany miłości) — Dir. Tomasz Wasilewski, Poland/Sweden
As the Soviet bloc dissolves, four women in 1990s Poland attempt to find their place in a rapidly changing society. Despite the promise of unification, these women are lonely and adrift in lives of lost affections and unrequited, obsessive love. In this sensitive drama, impassioned performances and frosty cinematography portray a landscape where love seems to always be just out of reach.
From the personal to the political, these films represent the best new nonfiction films from around the world.
Among Wolves — Dir. Shaun Convey, U.S./Germany
From Chicago’s own Shawn Convey comes this empathetic, beautifully shot profile of a humanitarian biker gang. Convey’s skilled eye captures the Balkan community of Livno and its Wolves Motorcycle Club in the aftermath of the region’s civil war. Clad in patched leather uniforms, the Wolves keep busy with a not-so-average mission: protecting the endangered wild horses of Bosnia and Herzegovina, all the while grappling with their communal trauma.
Forever Pure (Tehora La’ad) — Dir. Maya Zinshtein, Israel/U.K.
Beitar Jerusalem, an intensely nationalist soccer team in the Israeli Premier League, inspires as much extreme fandom as it does controversy. The powderkeg erupted in 2013, when the team owner, a provocative Russian arms trafficker, signed two Chechen Muslim players. The hires pushed Beitar over the edge, pitting lifelong fans and longtime players against each other in this eye-opening account of the intersection between politics, racism, and sports.
Girls Don’t Fly — Dir. Monika Grassl, Austria
An uplifting story of female empowerment? Not quite. This engrossing documentary captures the complex relationship between Jonathan Porter, a British man who dreams of teaching young Ghanaian women to be pilots, and his pupils, who discover his aviation academy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A story of goodwill gone awry, where charity and education meet exploitation, Girls Don’t Fly reveals the blurry line between colonialism and modernization.
Karl Marx City – Dirs. Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, U.S. / Germany
A personal documentary and paranoid thriller rolled into one, Karl Marx City follows director Petra Epperlein’s investigation into her father’s suicide and the rumor that he may have worked as a spy for the Stasi in East Germany. Uncovering the truth-as fictionalized in The Lives of Others-through Stasi archives and former agents, Epperlein takes us on a haunting trip back to the GDR, peppered with dark ironies and the enduring legacy of the surveillance state.
A Mere Breath (Doar o rasuflare) — Dir. Monica Lazurean-Gorgan, Romania
Dobrin Sicrea is a devoutly religious father who prays for a miracle to heal his youngest daughter, Denisa, who was born with spina bifida. Dobrin dutifully attends church and hopes for divine intervention, but will his love and devotion save his family, or destroy it? This exquisitely crafted documentary charts seven years in the life of Dobrin and his family as their faith-in God and each other-is profoundly tested.
Random Acts of Legacy — Dir. Ali Kazimi, Canada
A rare and illuminating glimpse of midcentury American life, this touching documentary introduces us to a unique Chicago family. From the 1930s on, first-generation Chinese immigrant Silas Fung captured his family’s bourgeois life in copious 16mm home movies. The Fungs fervently embraced their adopted home, from fried-chicken picnics to an obsession with the 1933 World’s Fair. The American family, the film implies, fits no single image.
Samuel in the Clouds — Dir. Pieter van Eecke, Belgium/Netherlands
On one of the highest ski slopes in the world atop a Bolivian glacier, Samuel has tirelessly worked for decades as a lift operator. Every day he walks miles up the mountain to cater to tourists from all over the world. But now the glacier is melting, and with it, an entire way of life. More than a vivid snapshot of climate change, Samuel in the Clouds is a sublime, haunting study of a man who longs for a sacred past.
The Swedish Theory of Love — Dir. Erik Gandini, Sweden
In the 1970s, the Swedish government promoted a manifesto titled “The Family of the Future,” calling for a shift away from traditional households toward personal independence. In this inquisitive documentary, Erik Gandini (Videocracy) explores the troubling outcomes of this utopian effort; for example, one-quarter of Swedes now die alone. Through alluring cinematography and shocking anecdotes, Gandini offers a cautionary tale for our modern world.
Where You’re Meant to Be — Dir. Paul Fegan, U.K.
Touring the bonnie Scottish countryside, pop-rocker Aidan Moffat has a musical mission: To update classic folk ballads with bawdy modern lyrics. But Sheila Stewart, a 79-year-old wayfaring balladeer and Scotland’s unofficial queen of national folk anthems, doesn’t approve. And she’s not alone, as Moffat discovers on the road from Loch Ness to Falkirk in this humorous and tender ode to national heritage and the resilience of tradition.
Get a first look at this year’s most anticipated films
Patron: Jeanne Randall Malkin Family Foundation
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.
Daughters of the Dust — Dir. Julie Dash, U.S.
Newly restored for its 25th anniversary, Julie Dash’s visually stunning achievement follows a Gullah family on a small South Carolina island at the turn of the century. Descendants of West African slaves, they clash in their struggles to preserve their heritage while forging new lives for themselves in the U.S. A poetic vision of lost black history, the film’s take on tradition, legacy, and culture continues to resonate today, from Black Lives Matter to Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
Elle – Dir. Paul Verhoeven, France
Michèle (Isabelle Huppert in an enthralling performance) seems indestructible. Head of a leading video game company, she brings the same ruthless attitude to her love life as to business. But Michèle’s life is changed forever when an unknown assailant attacks her in her own home. With hidden desires unexpectedly aroused and childhood traumas resurfacing, she goes on a journey that challenges our most widely held assumptions about femininity and power.
I, Daniel Blake — Dir. Ken Loach, U.K.
Winner of the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, this powerful drama lifts up an everyman hero: a hardworking, widowed Newcastle carpenter. Always determined to do right by others, Daniel becomes trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare when he must fight for his own life. In his latest ode to the working class, master social-realist craftsman Ken Loach puts an achingly human face on the modern welfare crisis.
Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate) — Dir. Alfonso Arau, Mexico
The winner of the Festival’s 1992 Audience Choice Award tells the entrancing story of Tita, a gifted cook who is forced to care for her aging mother instead of marrying Pedro, the love of her life. When Pedro marries her sister instead, Tita channels her sexual energies into her mouthwatering recipes. Director Alfonso Arau will be honored at this special screening of his sensual magical realist touchstone.
Lion – Dir. Garth Davis, Australia
Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.
A Man and a Woman (Un homme et une femme) — Dir. Claude Lelouch, France
On its 50th anniversary, enjoy a newly restored print of the classic, Cannes-winning 1966 romantic charmer by Claude Lelouch, longtime friend of the Festival. Two Parisian widowers, Anne (Anouk Aimée), a film script supervisor, and Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a racecar driver, have a chance encounter at their children’s boarding school. Though haunted by their late spouses, Anne and Jean-Louis try to forge a new life for themselves.
Mirzya — Dir. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, India
An epic Bollywood production, Mirzya tells a timeless tale of star-crossed lovers across two worlds: modern-day India, and a mythical, folkloric land of horseback-riding archers. A popular Punjab folktale of tragic romance finds new life with lavish filmmaking on a grand, sweeping scale, featuring pulse-pounding music and the screen debuts of two talents from legendary Bollywood families.
Moonlight — Dir. Barry Jenkins, U.S.
Moonlight is the tender, heartbreaking story of a young man’s struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the pain and beauty of falling in love. Anchored by astonishing performances and the vision of filmmaker Barry Jenkins, Moonlight is an intoxicating piece of cinema that uncovers deep truths about the moments that define us, the people who shape us, and the ache of love that can last a lifetime.
Paterson — Dir. Jim Jarmusch, U.S.
Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey – they share the name. Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route, he writes poetry into a notebook; he walks his dog; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer; he goes home to his wife, Laura. By contrast, Laura’s world is ever-changing. The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.
A Quiet Passion — Dir. Terence Davies, U.K./Belgium
The celebrated director of The House of Mirth paints the life of Emily Dickinson in lush, appropriately poetic tones, with a powerful lead performance by Cynthia Nixon as the celebrated American poet and co-starring Jennifer Ehle as her sister Vinnie. Living in self-imposed isolation from the world in her Massachusetts family home, yet still very much a part of high society, Dickinson uses her wit as a safeguard against her struggles with mental health and the patriarchal demands of her time.
Trespass Against Us – Dir. Adam Smith, U.K.
Trespass Against Us is set across three generations of the Cutler family, who live as outlaws in their own anarchic corner of Britain’s richest countryside. Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender) is heir apparent to his bruising criminal father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson), and has been groomed to spend his life hunting, thieving and tormenting the police. But with his own son coming of age, Chad soon finds himself locked in a battle with his father for the future of his young family.
Daughters of the Dust
Girls Don’t Fly
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice
Two Trains Runnin’
Shorts Program 7: Another Country
I Promise You Anarchy
Santa y Andrés
Strike a Pose
Utopians: Director’s Cut
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?
Women Who Kill
Cinema of the Americas
Like Water for Chocolate
Samuel in the Clouds
Santa & Andres
We Are the Flesh
Where I Grow Old
You’re Killing Me Susana
City & State
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Insatiable: The Homaru Cantu Story
Random Acts of Legacy
The View From Tall
Shorts Program 1: Think Locally