The Chicago International Film Festival selected Chicago’s own Michael Zhang as the winner of 2018’s poster design competition. Zhang’s design will be the signature look of the Festival, held October 10 to 21, 2018.
Zhang won a truly global contest, which in the past three years has featured winners from Scotland, Taiwan and the Netherlands. His design was chosen from more than 200 submissions spanning 30 countries. The poster depicts the façade of a vintage movie theater, presenting the exciting thrill of a neon-lit marquee and a classic art deco design. This year’s event tagline, “Everybody Loves Movies,” runs across the marquee alongside the Festival’s beloved “eyes” logo. Zhang, a Chicago resident, also incorporated the City of Chicago’s time-honored four-star flag design into the poster.
“This competition is meant to gather diverse perspectives on what the Festival is and what it means to people,” Cinema/Chicago Founder and CEO Michael Kutza said. “Michael’s design captures the glamour and allure of a visit to a classic movie house while also being very contemporary, and we loved his personal connection to the art, Chicago and the Film Festival itself.”
“I’m honored and so excited to see it in print at the Festival. I’ve been attending the Festival for a few years now, so this really means a lot to me,” Zhang said. “No matter what theater you go to, the excitement of marquee lights are a part of every movie-goer’s experience. For me, the lights were always a sign that I was about to leave the real world behind and get lost in a story on screen. When designing this poster, I wanted to evoke a similar sense of wonder and nostalgia.”
As the winner of the competition, Michael will receive a $2,500 USD prize and his design will be utilized in marketing materials throughout the city, including on the cover of the Festival guide, posters and merchandise.
Zhang is a graphic designer and illustrator living in Chicago. He volunteered at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival in 2017 and studied graphic design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently freelancing and available for design or illustration work. You can find more of his work by following him on Instagram