Look for Linney, Affleck, Hopkins, Sayles, Wright and more at Oct. 4-17 Chicago Int’l Film Festival

The world spotlight will shine on Chicago Oct. 4 when the 43rd Chicago International Film Festival?the longest running film festival in North America?opens for a two week run.

Some 150 features, shorts, student films and docs from more than 40 countries, many brightened by their stars and directors, will screen at five downtown and North Side venues.

The opening night program will be dedicated to Roger Ebert, who will be celebrated as the man who changed the way audiences watch movies.

The Festival staples of World Premieres competing for the Gold Hugo, New Directors, Docufest, Black Perspectives and Shorts, are augmented by several new programs this year:

A series of “Gala Presentations,” where notable and new Hollywood talent attend one-night-only screenings of their most hotly anticipated new films, as well as Late Nite Screamings, Restored and Rediscovered Films, Family Programming on weekends, and an Anime Focus.

Highlights (in chronological order) include:

Oct. 4 ? Launching the Festival and the 15 films representing the finest in the world and compete for the festival’s highest honor, the Gold Hugo, will be the U.S. premiere of “The Kite Runner,” directed by Marc Forster and starring Khalid Abdalla at the Chicago Theatre.

Oct. 7 ? Alison Eastwood’s directorial debut, “Rails & Ties,” starring Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden, will be a Special Presentation screening at AMC River East 21. Eastwood will be in attendance.