The Chicago International Film Festival announced the full lineup of its 57th edition, running October 13 – 24, 2021.
This year’s Festival expands across the City, with screenings at AMC River East 21, Music Box Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center, drive-in screenings at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen, and neighborhood pop-up screenings at Bronzeville’s historic Parkway Ballroom. The program includes nearly 90 feature films and 70 shorts, four World Premieres, one International Premiere, 17 North American Premieres, and 17 U.S. Premieres, and showcases cinema from countries including France, Turkey, Colombia, Sweden, Japan, Canada, India, Chile, and Egypt, representing every continent – including the Antarctic. Nearly 50 titles will also be available virtually for in-home screenings via the Festival’s streaming platform to audiences throughout Illinois and six other states, including Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
The 57th edition of the Chicago International Film Festival opens at the Music Box Theatre with Wes Anderson’s THE FRENCH DISPATCH, a love letter to journalists featuring an all-star cast, and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, the Opening Night at the Drive-In presentation at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen, with a special virtual Q&A with director Todd Haynes. The Closing Night film is KING RICHARD, the inspirational journey of Richard Williams (Will Smith), an undeterred father raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time — Venus and Serena Williams. The Centerpiece Film is C’MON C’MON, a powerfully resonant and hopeful portrait of our times starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Mike Mills. The Festival will also host the Chicago premieres of Denis Villeneuve’s hotly anticipated DUNE; Pablo Larrain’s portrait of Princess Diana, SPENCER, starring Kristen Stewart; and visionary director Ridley Scott’s THE LAST DUEL, a gripping tale of betrayal and vengeance set against the brutality of 14th century France. The full schedule is available in the digital Festival Program.
The 57th edition of the Chicago International Film Festival presents the World Premieres of four films including MAYOR PETE, Jesse Moss’ behind the scenes look at the campaign of the first openly LGBTQ presidential candidate; Joe Winston’s PUNCH 9 FOR HAROLD WASHINGTON, telling the story of Chicago’s first Black mayor; Chicagoan Holly Morris’ EXPOSURE, following 11 women from across Arab and Western countries on a trek to the North Pole; and LOVE, CHARLIE: THE RISE AND FALL OF CHEF CHARLIE TROTTER, Rebecca Halpern’s absorbing, unvarnished portrait of chef Charlie Trotter. The Festival will host the International Premiere of THE LAST EXECUTION, a white-knuckle political thriller based on the true story of Werner Teske from director Franziska Stünkel. This year’s program sees the North American Premieres of 17 features, and another 17 films will hold their U.S. Premieres.
Honors and Tributes
The Chicago International Film Festival has a proud tradition of honoring the year’s most acclaimed filmmakers and actors. The 57th edition adds to the Festival’s rich tapestry of past honorees, bestowing a tribute and Lifetime Achievement Award to Academy Award©-nominated Sir Kenneth Branagh at a Special Presentation of his humorous, tender, and deeply personal BELFAST; and honoring actor-turned-director Rebecca Hall with an Artistic Achievement Award at a Special Presentation of her new film, PASSING, the story of two childhood friends whose reunion threatens their carefully constructed realities.
Local Stories In the Spotlight
Showcasing the best and the brightest local productions, the 57th edition of the Chicago International Film Festival’s City & State program includes six features and eight short films. Headlined by the World Premieres of PUNCH 9 FOR HAROLD WASHINGTON and LOVE, CHARLIE: THE RISE AND FALL OF CHEF CHARLIE TROTTER, feature films include Isidore Bethel and Francis Leplay’s exploration of gay hookup culture ACTS OF LOVE; Margaret Byrne’s ANY GIVEN DAY, following a trio of participants in a probation program established for people with mental illnesses; documentary mavens Gordon Quinn and Leslie Simmer’s FOR THE LEFT HAND; and BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION, a throwback thriller brilliantly channeling 70’s paranoid cinema from director Jacob Gentry.
25th Anniversary of Black Perspectives
Founded in collaboration with Spike Lee to showcase the excellence and diversity of films by African Americans and the African diaspora from around the world, this year’s Black Perspectives program, celebrating its 25th anniversary, showcases nine feature films and six shorts, including the Closing Night film, KING RICHARD and a Special Presentation of PASSING. Other features include Jaymes Samuel’s action-packed revenge Western THE HARDER THEY FALL; Mahmet-Saleh Haroun’s raw, honest celebration of the power of women working in solidarity LINGUI, THE SACRED BONDS; CITIZEN ASHE, a profile of groundbreaking tennis star and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe from co-directors Sam Pollardand Rex Miller; and Francesco Zippel’s OSCAR MICHEAUX – THE SUPERHERO OF BLACK FILMMAKING; as well as the World Premiere of PUNCH 9 FOR HAROLD WASHINGTON and the U.S. Premieres of THE LAST SHELTER from Ousmane Samassekou and Khadar Ahmed’s THE GRAVEDIGGER’S WIFE.
In its 25-year history, the Black Perspectives program has premiered the first film by acclaimed director Ava Duvernay, and has featured the work of luminaries including Lee Daniels, George Tillman, Maya Angelou, Steve McQueen, and Ousmane Sembene, and has given tributes to film artists, including Viola Davis, Forest Whitaker, and Sidney Poitier.
The Chicago International Film Festival is the longest running competitive festival in North America, and in its 57th year, the tradition of introducing U.S. audiences to bold and accomplished new films from around the world continues with a slate of titles representative of their countries’ styles, stories, and cultures. Films vie for the Gold Hugo in the following categories: International Feature, New Directors, International Documentary, Short Film, and OutLook (LGBTQ+) Competitions.
Building on the success of last year’s Drive-In Screenings program, the 57th Chicago International Film Festival will present titles at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen, including a special Opening Night at the Drive-In event on Wednesday, October 13, featuring documentary THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, with a virtual Q&A with director Todd Haynes. Other Drive-In screenings include THE HARDER THEY FALL; Michael Pearce’s thriller ENCOUNTER, starring Oscar-nominated actors Riz Ahmed and Octavia Spencer; and a late-night presentation of indie coming-of-age occult horror hit HELLBENDER.
Virtual Screenings and Programs
The Chicago International Film Festival proudly offers nearly 50 titles virtually to audiences across Illinois, and throughout six other Midwestern states including Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin, via the Festival’s online streaming platform and Festival apps for Roku and Apple TV. Virtual screenings are ticketed, and streaming movies will be viewable in the comfort of one’s home beginning Thursday, October 14 at noon CT through Sunday, October 24, 2021.
Festival Passes are on sale now, with individual tickets going on sale September 21 for Cinema/Chicago members and September 24 to the general public. Passes can be purchased at www.chicagofilmfestival.com/festival/tickets/.