Wachowskis’ epic ‘Cloud Atlas’ is CIFF centerpiece

Leave it to founder/artistic director Michael Kutza and the board and staff of the Chicago and the 48th International Film Festival to elevate the city’s culture level with three  weeks’ worth of world films, Oct. 11-25, at AMC River East theatre, 322 E. Illinois.

The festival’s centerpiece film, screening Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. and opening theatrically Oct. 26, could not be a better festival curtain opener than the “Cloud Atlas.”  The controversial, imaginative, anticipated and powerful epic is from Chicago’s hometown heroes, the Wachowski siblings, Andy, who lives in Chicago, and sister Lana, of L.A. 

The Wachowskis directed the $100 million-budgeted, three hour film with Tom Tykwer (“Run, Lola, Run”), with whom they wrote the screenplay, based on David Mitchell’s best-selling novel. 

Released by Warner Bros., an Anarchos Pictures production, the international cast includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Keith David are part of an international cast.  “Cloud Atlas” was filmed in London and throughout Europe.  

And since the Wachowskis are masters of visual effects, it is unsurprisingly that the production employed some 350 visual artists alone.

Steppenwolf’s Joan Allen Other festival highlights: Awards to three great actresses

Joan Allen (Oct. 14), Helen Hunt (Oct. 20) and Viola Davis (Oct. 22) will receive Silver Hugos “for their significant achievements and contributions to the arts, and accept the awards during three successive special evenings at the AMC River East theatre.

During the An Evening with Joan Allen,” the Illinois native, Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member, Tony Award winner and Academy Award nominee, discusses her extensive career and various accomplishments on both stage and screen.  The “Evening” begins with a 6 p.m. red carpet presentation at 6 p.m.

Viola Davis receives CIFF’s Career Achievement Award during the festival’s Black Perspectives program Oct. 22.  The red carpet rolls out at 6:30 p.m. followed by the award ceremony and a retrospective of Davis’ work.

Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy winning actress Helen Hunt will attend the Special Presentation of Ben Lewin’s anticipated film The Sessions,” and participate in post-screening Q&As.  The story is about a man confined to an iron lung who is determined, at age 38, to lose his virginity.  Cinema/Chicago Junior Board starts on the red carpet at 7 p.m.

Columbia College is a presenting partner; sponsors are American Airlines, AMC Theatres, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Major Partner: Intersites.

Supporting Partners: DePaul University School of Cinema and Interactive Media; Stella Artois; Chris Pagano: Realtor, Land Rover; WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9FM; ShutterBox Photobooth; Cultivate Studios.  Participating Partners: iN Demand; EC Charro; Brugal Rum; Creative America; Gibsons Restaurant Group; Second City Computers; Optimus and CIFF’s Headquarters Hotel, JW Marriott Chicago.