Architecture, racecars, and the Blues

Buddy Guy in "The Torch"

Buddy Guy in “The Torch”

The ChiFilmFest
2019 program
offers moviegoers
art, thrills, and
the music
that inspired
Buddy Guy

The Chicago International Film Festival announced an ambitious schedule for its 55th annual run during a press event yesterday morning at AMC Theatres River East.

Hosted by Artistic Director Mimi Plauché and programmers Anthony Kaufman, Alissa Simon, and Sam Flancher, the presentation illuminated a startling range of films and ventured into a multitude of topics, genres, and passions that the October 16-27 celebration will explore this year.

Alysa Nahimias’ The New Bauhaus celebrates the essential role that Chicago played in growing an internationally renowned style of architecture and design. James Mangold’s Ford V Ferrari is a high-speed historical thriller starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. Jim Farrell’s The Torch is a “stirring” documentary about Chicago Bluesman Buddy Guy.



The festival opens October 16 with Motherless Brooklyn, a jazzy thriller directed by and starring Edward Norton. The centerpiece film is Knives Out, Rian Johnson’s “modern-day murder mystery” featuring a cast that includes Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Michael Shannon. The Torch closes out the festival on October 27 during an event that will include director Jim Farrell and Blues legend Buddy Guy.

To view the full program, click here.



Combined with events, appearances, and workshops, the lineup transforms the festival into a joyfully astonishing abundance of film-related things to do. Plauché and her associates described dozens of highlights during yesterday’s hour-long event. Below are just a few.

ALSO READ: ChiFilmFest unveils Industry Days agenda

Mimi Plauché, Artistic Director
International Competition

Japanese director Koji Fukada’s A Girl Missing explores a kidnapping that is “not a question of who did it, but how the truth is going to come out.” French Director Celine Siamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire is “a period romance that is brought to life with passion, nuance and grace.”

New Directors Competition
Iranian director Saeed Roustaee’s Just 6.5 chronicles the “complexity of human and social relations” in the format of a “thrilling, action-packed drama.” Spanish director Belen Funes’ A Thief’s Daughter is naturalistically-styled and emotionally impactful story of a young lady “struggling against the odds to make a better life for herself, for her younger brother, and for her young son.”


ALSO READ: ChiFilmFest unveils Gala & Special Presentations programs

Anthony Kaufman

Lauren Greenfield’s The Kingmaker, a documentary about former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, is a “riveting, scary story that will resonate with anyone living in America right now.”

The First Rainbow Coalition documents how a Hispanic activist group called The Young Lords joined together with a group of poor white activists to “right the wrongs” involving Civil Rights in the late-60s/early-70s.

Alissa Simon
Eastern European

Levan Akin’s And Then We Danced, a story about traditional Georgian dance by a Swedish director of Georgian ancestry, is also an Oscar contender.

Czech director Vaclav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird, the horrifying story of a young Polish boy who travels through Eastern Europe during World War 2, is a “grim and violent reflection on human nature.”

Sam Flancher

“There’s the Local, the Animated Shorts, the After Dark Shorts, the Doc Shorts, the Drama Shorts, the Comedy Shorts, the Black Perspective Shorts, the Experimental Shorts, and the Architecture Shorts, so be sure to remember all of those,” he said.

German director Yorgos Lanthimos’ Nimic features “Matt Dillon looking moody on a train.” Canadian director Brandon Kronenburg’s Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You is “this incredible visual examination of dreams and nightmares” appearing within an “experimental treatment in a psychiatric facility.”

Local shout-outs
Kaufman also gave shout-outs to hometown producer Brenda Robinson, who worked her magic on, Jump Shot, a “great sports doc Chicagoans will love.” Haroula Rose’s award-winning Once Upon a River will have its Chicago premiere during the celebration. And Jennifer Reeder’s festival hit, Knives and Skin is just one of the films that will be featured in the “boundary-pushing” After Dark program.

Send your film updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton,