“13” and director Catherine Hardwicke WIDC 23rd festival opener March 13

Women in the Director’s Chair opens its 23rd annual film festival on March 13 with a reception honoring director Catherine Hardwicke and a screening of her acclaimed indie feature, “Thirteen,” at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

The festival runs at WIDC’s own 150-seat theatre in Uptown for five days, March 13-17, instead of the eight days of past years and offers 20 programs down from 30.

“We wanted to streamline the event and make it more centered and convenient in the same space,” said de facto festival chairman KJ Mohr, “and also to bring attention to our space and theatre.”

Five hundred entries from more than 20 countries were winnowed down to a select 80. There are four features, including the surreal narrative “Night Passage,” fresh from Trinh T. Minh-ha, who will be present for her screening. Documentary features are “Prison Lullabies,” “Beah: A Black Woman Speaks” and “Radical Harmonies.”

The festival is completely board and volunteer run this year. Seasoned seasoned programming committee members are Prudence Brown, Nina Xoomsai, Emily Vey Duke, Mary Patten and Jennifer Hsu.

Opening night’s “Thirteen” starts at 5:15 p.m. and a buffet follows the screening. The Siskel Center is at 164 N. State. Tickets, $25, are available through Ticketmaster. All screenings at the WIDC theatre, 941 W. Lawrence, tickets $10.