CIFF intros Industry Days during Oct. 15-29 festival

For the first time in its half-century history, the Chicago International Film Festival is going beyond its general audience screenings with what CIFF founder/artistic director Michael Kutza calls “a new dimension in the ways we are connecting with the industry.”

When the 51st CIFF kicks off Oct. 15-29, it will introduce “Industry Days,” a four day conference, Oct. 22-24, that will bring together trade experts in production, distribution and film financing and more for the first time at CIFF.

Leading the new initiative is programmer Anthony Kaufman, one of the most knowledgeable all-around national film journalists who joined CIFF last May. 

In addition to his byline having appeared in a plethora of publications (Time Out Chicago, IndieWire, Filmmaker, New York Times, Village Voice) he is also a programmer (last March’s “Docs at the Box”) and teacher (The New School).

The conference starrts Thursday, Oct. 22 with an Industry Tribute to Chicago film and theatre executive producer Gigi Pritzger of OddLot Entertainment, followed by a reception afterwards.

Anthony Kaufman, CIFF Industry Days programmerAll day Friday and Saturday will be devoted to panels and workshops led by industry hard hitters from Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, “experts who can help take projects to the next level,” Kaufman says.  They will speak on the pertinent subjects of crowdfunding, new distribution platforms, selling a film, relationship with critics and filmmakers and how to build a sustainable film industry.

Sunday’s event will be a Pitch Session, a collaboration between CIFF and IFP/Chicago. It’s a first for CIFF and a revival after a 10 year absence for IFP.

The Pitch Session is soliciting entries, with an Aug. 31 deadline, with details on its website.

A panel of judges, comprised of professionals from New York and LA who will be attending CIFF, will select five to six producers to convince them why their project is worthy of winning.  The prize will be a package of in-kind services provided by local suppliers and consultation with film industry experts in getting their projects screentime. 

Early Bird registration discount for the CIFF Industry Days Badge through Aug. 17 is $85. It includes priority access to panels and workshops, Industry Days cocktail parties.