Category Archives: Chicago Film Festival

Last Call for the 55th Chicago International Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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The ​Chicago International Film Festival​ is still accepting ​​entries for all programs of the Festival’s 55​th​ edition taking place October 16-27, 2019. Filmmakers can now submit feature-length, documentary, and short films on the ​Festival’s website​ through ​FilmFreeway​ or ​Withoutabox​. Competitive programs in the Festival include the ​International Feature Film Competition​, which awarded the Gold Hugo for Best Film to ​Alice Rohrwacher’s ​Happy as Lazzaro​ in 2018, along with the ​International Documentary Competition​, ​New Directors Competition​, ​Short Film Competition​, and more. The Festival continues to be an Academy Award-qualifying festival for the winners of the Best Live Action Short and Best Documentary Short competitions. Last submission deadline for the 55​th​ Chicago International Film Festival for all films is – July 8, 2019

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Full submission guidelines and eligibility requirements can be found at​. Questions about submissions can be directed​.

BECOMING ASTRID Opens in Los Angeles and New York

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Music Box Film’s Becoming Astrid, directed by acclaimed Danish filmmaker Pernille Fischer Christensen and inspired by events in Swedish author and literary icon (Pippi Longstocking) Astrid Lindgren’s formative years, is an engaging, heartfelt story of a teenaged Astrid Lindgren, played by Alba August in a breakthrough performance that delvers an emotionally riveting sojourn of the young writer’s early religious upbringing and her advent in becoming a storyteller of mythical proportions.

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After young Astrid accepts an internship at a local newspaper, she catches the eye of the married editor, Mr. Blomberg, portrayed by Henrik Rafaelsen, and soon becomes pregnant. Forced to leave her childhood home for Copenhagen to avoid the public outcry that could potentially remove her family from their stewardship of church land and to secretly give birth to a bastard child, Astrid perseveres learning difficult life lessons, eventually settling in Stockholm when her parents refuse her with her new son, Lars (Lasse). Reluctantly, Astrid leaves Lasse with a foster mother, Marie, portrayed by Trine Dyrholm, during her exiled time in Stockholm. Saving her money from a paltry secretary’s salary, Astrid visits young Lasse when she can. After Marie falls ill, Astrid uses her imagination and flair for storytelling to reconnect with her child. In spite of her struggles, Astrid emerges with a newfound courage that will form the foundation of a vast and beloved body of literary work.


While Astrid Lindgren is mostly remembered for her Pippi Longstocking and Karlsson-on-the-Roof book series, her titles have been translated into 85 languages and published in over 100 countries. Selling approximately 165 million books worldwide, much of her writing was based on her childhood memories growing up in a small Swedish village. Outspoken on topics as diverse as the Vietnam War, children refugees, nuclear power, and urban planning, she always had children and their future at the center of her concerns. In 1958, Lindgren received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the top international award in children’s literature.

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Becoming Astrid is an excellent film technically as well as aesthetically. The version I viewed was in Swedish and Danish with English subtitles and came in with a run time of a smooth 123 minutes. In addition, the film contained well-rounded cinematography, seamless continuity editing, a strong narrative structure, stellar acting performances, a beautiful mise-en-scene, and an uplifting and complementary, non-diagetic, musical score. Becoming Astrid recently won the Audience Award for Best Foreign-Language Feature in October at the recent Chicago International Film Festival and is a highly recommended film!

Becoming Astrid opened November 23rd at the Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in Los Angeles and in New York at the Film Forum and will soon be followed by a national rollout.


Chicago Film Fest CineYouth Challenge 2017 – Entries Now Open

Posted by Larry Gleeson

CineYouth Film Challenge
Do you know an aspiring young filmmaker? We’ve got a great opportunity for students ages 10-18 to participate in a single day filmmaking experience. Join us for CineYouth Film Challenge on Saturday, April 22, at Columbia College Chicago, where students will collaborate on making a short film from start to finish. The completed films will go on to screen at CineYouth Festival, May 4-6.
The Film Challenge is generously supported by sponsor Allstate Insurance and partner Columbia College Chicago.

(Source: Chicago Press Office)

53rd Chicago Int’l Film Fest – Poster Competition

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Be the look of the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival! Cinema/Chicago is again hosting its annual design competition seeking the unique poster to be the key image for this year’s Festival, Oct 12-26, 2017. The winning designer, selected by a panel of Festival officials, will receive a $2,500 cash prize!


The official Festival poster is the signature look of the Chicago International Film Festival each year. Poster submissions should convey the experience of the Festival and be designed with the tagline “BECAUSE LIFE IS A MOVIE” Poster submissions must also conform to Cinema/Chicago’s design and submission guidelines and include the $25/entry fee. Submissions without the required elements (see below) or submission fee will not be considered.

Entries must be submitted by March 31, 2017 at 11:59pm CST. Late entries will not be accepted. Please read the Designer Agreement fully here. Complete rules and details are available here.

Design Guidelines:

  • All designs must be 27” x 40”, or scale to 27” x 40”
  • Must be vertically orientated
  • Design must be easily translated into a variety of mediums (online banners, book covers, etc.)
  • Design must incorporate the Festival’s official “eyes” logo (available here)
  • Design must reflect the theme “BECAUSE LIFE IS A MOVIE” and include that text
  • Design must clearly state: 53rnd Chicago International Film Festival
  • Design must include the festival dates: October 12-27, 2017
  • Design must include website:
  • Artists must use their own original artwork; Copyrighted characters, images or clip art will not be accepted (with the exception of the Chicago International Film Festival logo)

Submission Guidelines:

  • All file submissions must be in pdf, jpeg or png format
  • Entries must be submitted at 300 dpi (CMYK)
  • File must be no larger than 12MB
  • Entries must include a completed Submission Form
  • To submit multiple designs, submit the Form and entry fee for each design

Good luck!




FILM REVIEW: Holy Motors (Carax, 2012): France

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson.

mv5bodk2mdc4mdk2of5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtcyody1oa-_v1_uy268_cr00182268_al_Viewed at the AFI Fest 2012 at the Egyptian Theatre. Holy Motors, winner of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival’s Award of the Youth and the Hugo Award for Best Feature at the 2012 Chicago International Film Festival, directed by controversial Frenchman Leos Carax of Tokyo! fame, tells a beguiling tale of one Monsieur Oscar, a master of disguise, as he journeys from one appointment to another through the course of the dark hours of the night in Paris.  He is, in turn, a beggar,  captain of industry, an assassin, a bizarre reptilian-like virtual sexcapade participant, a sewer-dwelling, underground railroad member resurfacing as a  cemetery-robbing monster gorging himself on flower bouquets and eventually kidnapping a famous model (played stunningly by Eva Mendez) complete in accompaniment with accordion players and more bizarre culinary choices with Ms. Mendez’s hair and paper Euros.

The film opens with a beautiful shot of the night sky. From there the unusualness begins. We see a sleeping audience. Then, the “appointments” begin with the old woman without a care begging on the sidewalk.While his stretch limo motors from locale to locale Monsieur Oscar utilizes the commute time to change his appearance through elaborate forms of  make-up and disguise techniques. Carax gives the viewer an eyeful with a frontal nudity scene while paying tribute to American Beauty with rose petals and in a more human form with the camera presence of beauty Mendez. Throughout Holy Motors Carax allows famed cinematographer, Caroline Champetier (Of Gods & Men ) the camera ample time in the limo itself. This choice amplifies the effects of Monsieur Oscar’s ability to metamorphisize while on the go from appointment to appointment lending a genius effect that Monsieur Oscar is involved in transacting business, of sorts.

I initially was excited to see Parisian scenes and the River Seine. And while I did get to see these, I also got to see a lot more in the way of artistic license as Carax pushes the limits of normalcy through the antics of Monsieur Oscar through the dark of night in an unseen before Parisian form. Finally, towards the end of the night the viewer is returned to a sense of normalcy as Monsieur Oscar plays a caring family only to be trumped by a surprise ending

I do recommend this film. It has a most interesting style of storytelling. While it may or may not be mainstream, it has unusual artistic value in the subtlety Carax implements to drive home his point that in the end French cinema is all about business in one form or another. Well done, Mr. Carax.

Movie listed as a must-see at 52nd Chicago Film Festival by Chicago Mag

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Chidumga Izuzu

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-3-55-23-pm93 Days, the only Nollywood movie to ever screen at the Chicago International Film Festival, has been listed as one of the must-see movies at festival.

The movie which will premiere in Chicago at the Chicago International Film Festival on Tuesday, October 20, 2016, has been listed as one of the must- see movies at the 52nd Chicago Film Festival by Chicago Magazine.

With close to 200 films and countless screenings spread across two weeks, Chicago International Film Festival programming director Mimi Plauché, made a list of the top five features from this year’s slate of films.

93 Days has been listed alongside Catholics vs. Convicts, Jackie, Christine,”and That Day We Sang.

A compelling human story of dedication, sacrifice, resilience and survival, 93 Days is directed by Steve Gukas, and produced  by Bolanle Austen-Peters, Dotun Olakunri and Steve Gukas.

The movie demonstrates the bravery of the late Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh and her colleagues. From their encounter with the late American-Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who was the index case of the Ebola Virus Disease, to ensuring that the right medical procedures were in place to stop the spread of the disease in the country.

Starring Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey as Patrick Sawyer, the movie also stars Bimbo Akintola as Nigerian hero, Dr Stella AdadevohGideon Okeke, Somkhele Idhalama, Bimbo Manuel and veteran Hollywood actor, Danny Glover.

After its successful screening at The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the world premiere of 93 Days took place on Friday, September 9, 2016, at The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Following its Toronto premiere, the movie made its debut in Nigeria at House on the Rock Cathedral, on Tuesday, September 13, 2016.

93 Days will premiere in Chicago at the Chicago International Film Festival on Thursday, October 20, 2016, at the AMC River East 21, E. Illinois Street Chicago.



Chicago Film Festival Marks 52nd Year

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Lisa Fielding

The Chicago International Film Festival is America’s longest running competitive film festival, and organizers are promising something for everyone this year.

Michael Kutza, Founder and Director, Chicago International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Emily Oscarson)

“Young people films like ‘Trolls’ in 3D for kids, up to musicals like ‘La La Land,’ which is a big, Oscar potential, and we have a whole section on musicals. But really the festival is based on discovering new directors and honoring some of the old ones who’ve been here over the years,” says Michael Kutza, Founder and Artistic Director.

Kutza founded the CIFF in 1964 and has been bringing independent and foreign films to the masses for years.

“We do a mix of independent and Hollywood. We close with a big Hollywood film to tempt you to come see some of our foreign films. It’s a tough town, but we want to get you to see the world, and so we tempt you with Hollywood,” he says.

Kutza says not only does the festival educate fans about films they would never have seen otherwise, but the 15-day festival offers hundreds of feature films. It’s an opportunity to see many features before they are released.

“You want the best films, you want the winner of the Cannes Film Festival, Venice, Sundance, then you start with that. We go all over the world to find what’s best and bring it to film fans here in Chicago,” he says.

There will also be documentaries, films by first-time filmmakers, short-subject films, educational films, big name directors and actors along with films submitted for the Academy Awards.

There’s even a new section this year, an International Musical section.

Programming Director Mimi Plauche, Chicago International Film Festival (Photo from

“We found everything from an Israeli-Palestinian hip-hop musical. Three different Polish musicals were made this year, and we have two of them. It’s really kind of fun looking for and finding a whole new genre of films from around the world,” says Mimi Plauche, programming director.

This year’s main competition jury president is actress Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin. She will join Kutza for a conversation about her career and the 23 days her famous father spent at Chicago’s Essanay Studios in 1915.

Actress Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin, will serve as the main competition jury president for the 52nd Chicago Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Chicago International Film Festival)

“I was just in Cuba and spent ten days on a jury with Geraldine. I asked her if she’d ever been to Chicago and she said no. I told her to come and take part and we can honor you and you talk about your life and your dad’s films,” Kutza says.

Directors Peter Bogdonovich, left, and Steve McQueen will be honored at the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival. (Photo credit:

This year, directors Peter Bogdonovich and Steve McQueen will be honored. The film fest opens on Thursday and runs through Oct. 27. For more information, click here.