ChiFilmFest opens with fresh new buzz

Vivian Teng, Jennifer Reeder, Gigi Pritzker, and Mimi Plauché

Vivian Teng, Jennifer Reeder, Gigi Pritzker, and Mimi Plauché

red carpet
helps launch
Windy City


The Chicago International Film Festival opened with an all-female red carpet ceremony at the AMC River East last Thursday night. Adding a fresh buzz to decades of Windy City tradition, the 55th annual launch was anchored by Artistic Director Mimi Plauché and Cinema/Chicago Managing Director Vivian Teng.

The pair graciously provided Reel Chicago with an inside scoop on this year’s program.

Plauché, who oversees all of the festival programming, described the ChiFilmFest’s new partners.

“We’re really excited to be presenting two films at the Museum of Contemporary Art,” she said. “Just thinking about how what we are doing impacts the community and how do we welcome Chicagoans or audiences from all over the world.”

Teng, who handles “everything other than programming,” is keen on the new branding campaign that asks viewers What Role Will You Play? created by Ogilvy Chicago

“You know, What Role Will You Play? is really like catching from our casting call,” she says. “It’s inviting. It’s fun. It’s a little cheeky.”

Also walking the red carpet were producer Gigi Pritzker, CEO of MWM Studios and producer of the opening night film, Motherless Brooklyn; and filmmaker and jury member Jennifer Reeder, whose 2019 Illinois-made teen noir, Knives and Skin, screened as part of this year’s After Dark program. They each gave Reel Chicago a dose of filmmaker wisdom as well.

Pritzker offered up some behind-the-scenes insight on how she got involved with Motherless Brooklyn as well as what she liked about working on the film.



Reeder described her role as a jury member and explained the themes of social justice that are woven into Knives and Skin.



Also in attendance were hundreds of fans eager to catch the Chicago premiere of Motherless Brooklyn, which opened this year’s Chicago International Film Festival.

Directed by and starring Edward Norton, Motherless Brooklyn tells the story of “a lonely private detective living with Tourette Syndrome” named Lionel Essrog (Norton), who “ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis).”

Following the event was a reception at the expansive Burlington Room in Union Station. The late-night soiree attracted audience members as well as friends and supporters of the Chicago International Film Festival. To view photos from the event, click here.

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