Chicago International Film Festival | 10.6.11-10.20.11

The 47th annual Chicago International Film Festival, which opens this Thursday (October 6) and runs through October 20, is just a manageable road trip away.


From the viewpoint of a film fanatic, we live in both the best of times and the worst of times. It’s the best of times because never in the history of the medium have so many films been available to the average fan, and the worst of times because the opportunity to see a wide variety of films as films is diminishing. The key to this riddle, of course, is that while an incredible variety of films are available on DVD and instant view the theatres tend to be crammed with multiple showings of just a few titles (and don’t get me started on the shortcomings of digital projection). Much as I love the choices offered by alternative methods of delivery, there’s still something special about seeing a film in a theatre with a crowd of other interested viewers.

Hence the continuing appeal of film festivals which, among other things, are a great way to commune with your fellow film fanatics. The Saint Louis International Film Festival is coming up in November but if you need a fix before then, the 47th annual Chicago International Film Festival, which opens this Thursday (October 6) and runs through October 20, is just a manageable road trip away.

The opening night presentation this year, The Last Rites of Joe May, is pure Chicago through and through. Written and directed by Joe Maggio, it stars native son Dennis Farina as an aging short-money hustler reluctant to admit that he might be coming to the end of the line. Several members of Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Ensemble also appear and The Last Rites of Joe May was produced by Steppenwolf Films.

The closing night presentation on Oct. 20 will be the Cannes darling The Artist, a black-and-white film paying homage to the great films of the silent era. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist starts George Valentin as a silent movie star who fosters the career of a young extra (Bérénice Bejo) only to find his own career in jeopardy when talking pictures come to Hollywood.

In between these two special presentations you have more than 150 films to choose from. Here’s a few films and other presentations which may be of particular interest:

Leave It On the Floor, dir. Sheldon Larry, a musical set in the world of Los Angeles drag ball culture (think Paris is Burning on the West Coast), featuring music by Kim Burse (Beyoncé’s creative director) (10/07/2011, 10:50 pm; 10/08/2011, 10:50 pm)

Kaidan—Horror Classics, a portmanteau film presenting four ghost stories directed by Masayuki Ochiai, Shinya Tsukamoto, Lee Sang-Il and Hirokazu Kore-Eda (10/9/2011, 8:30 pm)

My Week with Marilyn, dir. Simon Curtis, which views events surrounding the 1956 filming of The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) and Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), through the eyes of set assistant Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) (10/12/2011, 7:00 pm)

The Bully Project, dir. Lee Hirsch, a heart-wrenching documentary (trust me, there were few dry eyes in the audience following its screening at Hot Docs) which examines the effect of bullying on the lives of five young people over the course of a school year (10/11/2011, 7:00 pm)

An Evening with Anthony Mackie: A Black Perspectives Tribute, a special presentation of highlights from his career, followed by an interview with Fox News Chicago host Robin Robinson (11/15/2011, 7:30 pm)

A complete schedule, ticketing information and directions are available from Tickets for most screenings are $10-$13 (various discounts are available) and may also be purchased through the festival hotline 312.232.FILM (Mon.-Fri. 10 am-6 pm; reservations must be made 24 hours in advance), through Ticketmaster ( or in person at the Festival Theatre Box Office (322 E. Illinois St.) or the Festival Office (30 E. Adams, Suite 800; Mon.-Fri. 10 am-6 pm). | Sarah Boslaugh





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