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Geraldine Chaplin
Geraldine Chaplin

The 2016 Chicago International Film Festival announced the complete list of filmmakers and industry professionals who comprise the various Festival juries, awarding films in competition with the Festival’s top honors.

In addition to a special Festival Tribute on October 15, Geraldine Chaplin is named the President of the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival’s International Feature Competition jury. Also on this year’s International Feature Competition jury are filmmakers Juan Taratuto (It’s Not You, It’s Me), Yulene Olaizola León (Shakespeare and Victor Hugo’s Intimacies), and David Verbeek (R U THERE) and actor/producer Chin Han (The Dark Knight). Extended biographies for members of this year’s impressive International Feature Competition jury are below; the International Feature Competition is made possible with the support of Penelope R. and Robert Steiner.

The Festival honors international documentary filmmaking with a jury comprised of film curator Livia Bloom (Icarus Films), filmmaker Dan Rybicky (Almost There) and art-house distributor Blandine Mercier-McGovern (Cinema Guild). The Documentary Competition is sponsored by SundanceNow Doc Club. Those first and second feature films included in the New Directors Competition (sponsored by Columbia College Chicago and the John and Jacolyn Bucksbaum Family Foundation) will be reviewed and awarded by jury members Patricio Castilla, cinematographer and author, Helen du Toit, independent producer, and Nick Allen, assistant editor and film critic at The New Directors Competition jury will also present the Roger Ebert Award, given to a filmmaker with a fresh and uncompromising vision and whose work allows audiences to enter into and empathize with, the lives of all types of people

Those films included in the Festival’s OutLook Competition, honoring achievement in LGBTQ cinema, will be juried by SCUD (Amphetamine, Voyage), Mihai Chirilov, and Q-Hugo Award-winning filmmaker Stephen Cone (Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party). The Festival’s short films are also juried; the complete list of the Short Film Juries is below.

Finally, the Chicago Award honors a film that showcases the best in film production that embraces the city, the state and its spirit. The City & State program and the Chicago Award will be juried by filmmakers Kris Swanberg (Unexpected), Michael Caplan (Algren) and Nicole Bernardi-Reis (Radical Grace).

52nd Chicago International Film Festival Juries

Geraldine Chaplin (Jury President) — A Golden Globe-nominated actress and the daughter of screen legends Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill, her half-century-plus career spans more than 100 films, including legendary turns in Nashville, Doctor Zhivago, Welcome to L.A., The Age of Innocence and Chaplin, in which she played her own grandmother. She was a 2014 Festival Silver Hugo winner for Sand Dollars.

YULENE OLAIZOLA LEÓN is a director, writer, producer, and editor. She was born in Mexico City and studied film at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica. Her first film, Shakespeare and Victor Hugo’s Intimacies, won more than 30 awards on the international festival circuit, including San Sebastian, Buenos Aires, and Transylvania. Her second film, Artificial Paradises, played in the Tribeca Film Festival, where it won Best Cinematography. FOGO, her third film, screened at the Director´s Fortnight in Cannes in 2012.

JUAN TARATUTO is a director, writer, and producer from Buenos Aires. His 2004 film It’s Not You, It’s Me played at the Chicago International Film Festival and became the highest grossing independent film in Argentina. In 2013, his movie The Reconstruction premiered at Venice and won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Valladolid International Film Festival, as well as many other awards worldwide. His most recent film, I Married a Dumbass, was a smash hit in Argentina, having become the highest-grossing locally produced film of the year to date.

DAVID VERBEEK is a director and writer from Amsterdam. He lived in China after graduating film school, where he made his second feature film Shanghai Trace, which competed at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. His other films include the Taiwan-set R U THERE, selected for Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival; Club Zeus, which won the Return of the Tiger award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival; the Gold Hugo-nominated How to Describe a Cloud; and Full Contact, which won awards for Best Actress and Best Cinematography at the Chicago International Film Festival.

CHIN HAN is an actor and producer. His acting credits include The Dark Knight, 2012, Contagion, Restless, Independence Day: Resurgence, and the upcoming U.S. remake of Ghost in the Shell, as well as recurring roles on TV’s Arrow and Marco Polo. Born in Singapore, he is a prominent figure in his home country’s theater scene and an avid golfer. He was named one of Asia’s top 25 greatest actors of all time by CNNGo.

Nick Allen An Assistant Editor and Film Critic at, he has been writing about film online since 2007, contributing to various publications including The Film Stage, Movie Mezzanine, and Magill’s Cinema Annual. In 2014, he was a programmer for the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival.

Patricio Castilla A cinematographer, author, and painter, he has worked on fiction films and documentaries in Chile and Cuba, where he sought political asylum in 1973 following the Pinochet coup in his native Chile. He is married to Geraldine Chaplin and is now based in Europe.

Helen du Toit A programmer and independent producer, she co-produced Mark Cousins’ 15-hour documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey and ran the Toronto International Film Festival’s Talent Lab for five years. She served as Artistic Director of the Palm Springs International Film Festival for the last seven years.

Livia Bloom A film curator and Vice President of Icarus Films, she has presented cinema programs at institutions including the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Film Forum, and the Museum of Modern Art. She edited the book Errol Morris: Interviews, and her writing has appeared in Cinema Scope, Cineaste, and Film Comment.

Blandine Mercier-McGovern The Head of Distribution at Cinema Guild, she handled theatrical marketing at Argot Pictures in her former job. She holds a Masters in Film Studies from Sorbonne Nouvelle and lives in Brooklyn.

Dan Rybicky A director and tenured professor in Cinema Art and Science at Columbia College Chicago, he recently produced and co-directed the acclaimed feature documentary Almost There. Dan has worked with and consulted in various production capacities for Martin Scorsese, John Sayles, and John Leguizamo.

Mihai Chirilov The artistic director and co-founder of the Transilvania International Film Festival and artistic director of the Making Waves Romanian Film Festival in New York, he is the co-author of the books Lars von Trier: The Films, the Women, the Ghosts and New Romanian Cinema: From Comrade Ceaușescu to Mr. Lăzărescu.

Stephen Cone A Chicago-based filmmaker and educator, his most recent feature film, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, screened at BAMcinemaFest and won the Silver Q Hugo Award at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival. His prior film The Wise Kids was a New York Times Critics Pick. Cone teaches at Northwestern University.

SCUD Born in China, he had a 20-year I.T. career and travelled to 80 countries before settling in Sydney. Realizing that he had fulfilled the dreams of others but not his own, he returned to Hong Kong to direct acclaimed films such as Amphetamine and Voyage.

Michael Caplan A director, producer, and educator, his documentary Algren played at the Festival in 2014. His other films include A Magical Vision, Stones from the Soil, and Microcosm. Caplan is an Associate Professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Kris Swanberg A director, writer, and actress, her first feature, It was great, but I was ready to come home, played in competition at the SXSW Film Festival in 2009. Unexpected, starring Cobie Smulders and Anders Holm, premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and is Swanberg’s third feature.

Nicole Bernardi-Reis A documentary producer, her work has aired on a wide range of broadcast outlets including A&E, E!/Style, HGTV, and the Science Channel. Her most recent documentary is Radical Grace, winner of the Festival’s 2015 Chicago Award. She is the Executive Director of IFP/Chicago.

Short Film Juries
Julian Grant – Associate Professor in Cinema Art and Science at Columbia College Chicago, Visual Effects Coordinator
Sergio Mims – co-founder of the Black Harvest Film Festival, co-founder of
Mehrnaz Saeedvafa – Professor in Cinema Art and Science at Columbia College Chicago

Steve Socki – Assistant Professor at DePaul University School of Cinematic Arts
Kera MacKenzie – Artist and co-director of ACRE TV
Patrick MacDonald – Film critic

Ruth Leitman – Assistant Professor in Cinema Art and Science at Columbia College Chicago
Maria Finitzo – Director, writer, producer
Mark Helenowski – Director, producer

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