Sneak Peek at the 53rd Chicago Int’l Film Festival


Once again, the Chicago International Film Festival has more than lived up to its name. This year’s run, its 53rd, features not only a collection of films but also an official poster selected from submissions that spanned the globe.

“We looked at more than 5,000 films,” artistic director Mimi Plauché told guests at the festival’s “Sneak Peek” in the gallery of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on Tuesday night.

“The number goes up every year,” she continued, “and it is our mission to search out the best, the most striking, the films that move us, that stun us, that we feel are really innovative.”

Although the festival jury is still narrowing the submissions down to approximately 120 that will screen during the October 12 – 26 event, a handful that already got the green light were revealed during the presentation. The list crosses a world of borders and genres.

Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me adds even more strength and charisma to the legend of the Rat Pack singer, dancer and actor who supported Nixon, converted to Judaism and supported civil rights during his famous career.

Three Billbouards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is a dark comedy starring Frances McDormand as a woman who paints messages on gigantic outdoor signs that are intended to help a police chief played by Woody Harrelson solve her daughter’s murder.

When the complete schedule is announced on September 19, Plauché is certain that cinema fans who delight in “dark alleys, crooked cops, uncommon obsessions and a pervasive sense of paranoia,” will be raring to go. This year’s program includes a spotlight on international Film Noir.

“These films navigate the uncertainty of our times with a trace of guile and a shade of spine-tingling thrills,” she says.

Dutch painter and graphic designer Edwin Smeenge has already felt to the calling. He won this year’s poster competition with a design that, according to founder and CEO Michael Kutza, “precisely captures the sense of curiosity, adventure, and discovery that our audiences bring to the Festival.”

His winning submission features the festival’s iconic logo, the eyes of Theda Bara, peering through a slit in an otherwise closed set of window blinds.

“My design was inspired by the old Film Noir movies and a little bit by Pop Art,” says Smeenge, who includes Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol among his major influences. “Anyone can be either the one behind the blinds or the person in front of it.”

To view ReelChicago’s photo album of the Festival’s “Sneak Peek” celebration, click here.

To learn more about the 53rd annual Chicago International Film Festival, click here.