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Buffet of movies from around the world


Talk to three different festival programmers, even if they’re working at the same festival, and you’ll get three different ideas about what’s going through the minds of the filmmakers whose work fills the 59th Chicago International Film Festival, which begins October 11.

for CIFF art director Mimi Plauché, the word “rights” covers most of the thematic ground this year. “Human rights, political rights, women’s rights; this big question of what is an individual’s place in the system?” Many of the filmmakers represented at this year’s festival, he says, are immersed in larger questions, “drawing us into their characters’ dreams.”

For veteran programmer Anthony Kaufman, an expert on the world documentary scene, the word “context” emerges as the key to the best work he’s reviewed this year. Polish doc, one of the upcoming CIFF standout plays in every category “In Hindsight” It captures an aspect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a way that no other film on the subject has done — Kaufman says he’s watched nine or 10 nonfiction Ukrainian war films this year alone.

“The first round of Ukrainian documents gave us the onslaught of war, but without much context and in many cases without human stories. I guess you could say the earlier ones focused less on style and more on the direct violence, the sheer violence of it all.”

“In Rear Sight” works differently, with no less cumulative effect. Maciek Hamela, the first feature film producer born in Poland, bought a minibus and began evacuating Ukrainian citizens from their devastated hometown across the Polish border. He later bought two more vans and hired a camera operator. The camera remains mostly in place between the two front seats, recording the conversations, behaviors and remarkable insights of one truckload of refugees, then another, and another.

Many of the roads used here are in mortal danger: some are mined, some are impassably muddy. But by the time the calm and surprising 84 minutes of “In the Rearview” are completed, you, the viewer, will have a deeper understanding of the implications and consequences endured by 15 million displaced Ukrainians.

Now let’s give a little context about the festival itself.

This year, CIFF moved its main venue from its AMC River East location in the downtown Streeterville neighborhood to AMC NewCity 14 in the Goose Island neighborhood near the intersection of North and Clybourn.

First of all, CIFF programmer Sam Flancher says this is a step forward for moviegoers who use public transportation. “It’s one block from the CTA Red Line stop at North and Clybourn, and the Red Line also easily gets you to the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Music Box Theatre.” The festival also returns to these and other venues. Two new screening venues for CIFF this year: Harrison Park’s Chicago Park District fieldhouse in Pilsen and the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts in Hyde Park.

Preparing for Chicago’s festival selection, Flancher joined Plauché for annual expeditions to Berlin (February) and Cannes (May), two of the world’s largest and most prestigious film festivals. In a variety of roles during her decade at CIFF, Flancher says she learned to “trust my instincts about a film, even if I couldn’t fully articulate why the film stayed with me.” We will call this word “instinct” as Flancher’s programming search term, in line with Plauché’s “rights” and Kaufman’s “context”.

“I now realize that if I’m thinking about a scene or even a moment from a movie throughout the day, that means other people will probably be thinking about it too,” says Flancher.

opening scene "Point of Interest, directed by Jonathan Glazer.

The films filling NewCity’s auditoriums at the 2023 festival span the global coastline, with several high-profile favorites already proving successful on the international festival circuit. Many of these books, such as Jonathan Glazer’s remarkable adaptation of the Martin Amis novel Auschwitz “Area of ​​Interest” North American distributors (A24 for “Interest”) and a theatrical release date (December 8) are on the books.

Late additions to this year’s CIFF list include Alexander Payne’s comedy “The Held” (Paul Giamatti as a cranky New England boarding school professor); David Fincher “Join” (Singer Michael Fassbender in an assassination thriller) and debut feature filmmaker Cord Jefferson’s satire on race and culture, “American Fiction” winner of the audience award at this year’s Toronto festival (Jeffrey Wright as a novelist under extreme pressure).

Other films, which make up the vast majority of CIFF’s 100-plus feature films, represent what lies beneath the glaring tip of the marketing iceberg. There’s a healthy Chicago component to the list. Documentary “Bicycle Ship” It’s about a father-son road trip from St. Louis to Chicago, explores health and wellness issues in the black community, and is already approaching sell-out status in advance ticket sales for its CIFF screenings. Chicago native Haroula Rose’s sophomore feature is comedy“All Happy Families” will bring Rose back to the city from Los Angeles for the first Industry Days panel dedicated to (among other things) local filmmaking.

The filmmaker also appears in this panel (October 12, 16:00 at NewCity 14) Jennifer Reeder (“Perpetrator”); “Bear” unit production manager Llama’s Carrie Holt; and writer-director Minhal Baig start of flexible feature “We Have Grown Up Now” The festival, which took place in the Cabrini-Green housing projects in 1992, opens at the Music Box on October 11.

There is so much more, all I can really say is “there is so much more.” Michael Shannon’s feature debut is meticulous and frustrating “Eric LaRue” (The film, adapted by screenwriter Brett Neveu from his own play, starring Judy Greer) will be screened at the festival. Shannon will also hold a masterclass at the Gene Siskel Film Center as part of CIFF Industry Days events.

CIFF programmer Flancher wants to add this public service announcement: Check out the mainstream films showing at the festival if you must. “Your Killer” or “The Things You Delayed”. But by all means, try your hand at a few movies you know little to nothing about. For example?

"Bicycle Ship," St.  The world premiere documentary about a father-son journey from St. Louis to Chicago is being screened for the first time at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Well, for example “Family portrait.” Another debut feature from writer-director Lucy Kerr, this low-key indie project is set in early 2022, when the pandemic is new, wondrous, and arguably easy to tame, easy to vaccinate against. -It’s a public issue.

A Texas family gathered for their annual family portrait; Deragh Campbell, who is scheduled to attend the CIFF screening, plays a girl who arrives with her new boyfriend. On a lighter note, some members of his family are taking this frustrating COVID situation more lightly than others. With this skeletal premise, Kerr covers in less than 80 minutes a lot of things that Flancher says previous movies about COVID couldn’t cover without exaggeration or undercooked generalizations.

“We’ve seen so many bad movies about the pandemic that we were trying to capture the anxiety of those early days. But it’s a powerful distillation of what it actually feels like. “It’s a small film with a lot of vision.”

What programmers share this year, and every year, is the belief in offering the broadest possible range of cinematic perspectives. “This is our approach,” says Plauché. “Understanding cinema as an art form, but also understanding cinema as a way to expand our view of the world. “We are all interested in taking a broader look at the world we live in and understanding how people live.”

Chicago International Film Festival, October 11-22. The main venue is AMC NewCity 14, 1500 N. Clybourn Ave. For the full schedule and all venue locations go to: chicagofilmfestival.com.

Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.


excitement @phillipstribune


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