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Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water
Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water

Lady Bird will screen as the Centerpiece Film; and The Shape of Water, winner of Golden Lion at the 2017 Venice Film Festival, will screen as the Closing Night Film of the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival, with a special tribute to star Michael Shannon.

”The Festival has a longstanding tradition of not only showcasing first features by emerging directors but also the filmmaking debuts of celebrated actors, from Alan Rickman and Faye Dunaway to Liv Ullman and, more recently, William H. Macy,” said Artistic Director Mimi Plauche.”We are excited to add Greta Gerwig to this list with her funny and bittersweet portrait of a girl learning to become a young woman as she negotiates life’s thornier issues of love, friendship and independence.”

“We’re also thrilled to present the most recent work of one of the Festival’s favorite auteurs Guillermo del Toro as our Closing Night film,” added Festival Founder and CEO Michael Kutza. “Mr. del Toro has been a long-time friend of the Festival. We paid Tribute to del Toro’s creative genius when we honored him at the 46th Festival. The Shape of Water is a stunning work that gorgeously combines a delicate love story with a Cold War spy thriller woven together by a magical thread.”

“The Festival finale will include a tribute to Michael Shannon, an actor who first started out in Chicago theater and has now achieved international recognition,” said Plauché. “Over the years, we have showcased Michael’s immense talents, starting in 1997 with the Chicago-made features The Ride and Chicago Cab. In between, we presented his first collaboration with director Jeff Nichols, 2006’s Shotgun Stories. And he was last at the Festival in 2013 with John McNaughton’s The Harvest. It is fitting that we celebrate his outstanding talents in the city that helped to shape his creative process as an actor.”

Centerpiece Film: Lady Bird — Dir. Greta Gerwig, U.S.
Greta Gerwig (Francis Ha) arrives as a bold new cinematic voice with her directorial debut, excavating both the humor and pathos in the turbulent bond between a strong-willed teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan) and her opinionated mother (Laurie Metcalf). Set in Sacramento, in 2002, amid the shifting economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the beauty of a place called home. 93 min.

Closing Night Film: The Shape of Water — Dir. Guillermo del Toro, U.S.
From master storyteller Guillermo del Toro comes The Shape of Water, an otherworldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. But the facility’s single-minded authoritarian, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), threatens to stand in the way of her happiness. Rounding out the cast are Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones and Michael Stuhlbarg. English, ASL with subtitles. With in-person tribute to Michael Shannon.

Michael Shannon, Recipient of Artistic Achievement Award
Academy Award-, Golden Globe- and Tony Award-nominated actor Michael Shannon has worked with the industry’s most respected talent and treaded the boards in notable theaters around the world, including in Chicago, A Red Orchid (where he is an ensemble member, Lookingglass and Steppenwolf.) Shannon most recently was seen in Bart Freundlich’s Wolves and can also be seen in Werner Herzog’s thriller, Salt and Fire. Later this year, Shannon will be seen in Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s The Current War and in Seth Henrikson’s Pottersville. Shannon also lensed Meredith Danluck’s State Like Sleep and will be seen in the Nicolai Fuglsig-directed Horse Soldiers. Shannon is currently in production in writer-director Elizabeth Chomko’s drama, What They Had and will star and co-executive produce the mini-series Waco. In 2016, Shannon was seen in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, receiving an Academy Award and Critics Choice nomination. Earlier that year, Shannon marked his fifth collaboration with director Jeff Nichols with a cameo in his drama Loving, and starred in his sci-fi thriller Midnight Special. Shannon’s previous collaborations with Nichols include Take Shelter, for which he received a 2011 Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor; as well as the films Mud and Shotgun Stories. Most notably, Shannon garnered critical acclaim for his Oscar-nominated supporting role in Revolutionary Road. He went on to receive additional acclaim for Ramin Bahrani’s timely drama 99 Homes and was nominated for a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice, Gotham Award and Film Independent Spirit Award on behalf of this performance. He has had more than forty roles in films, with credit in Martin Scorsese’s HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, which recently completed its fifth and final season.

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