Considering how wild 2020 has been it is turning out to be a great year for film lovers! That has greatly to do with film festivals that decided to reformat their yearly event and move ahead with the festivities, celebrating the spectacle that is visual storytelling while embracing the difficulties the pandemic has brought.
Chicago International Film Festival is one of these film festivals that is gearing up to do just that. The festival is running from Oct. 14th-23rd and is highlighting an incredibly diverse selection of films sure to delight its audiences and start quite a buzz on the socials for weeks to come. Like many other film festivals this year, they are choosing to embrace the digital format that helps keep us safe int these times, as well as showing many of its offerings on big screens at at the ChiTown Movies Drive-In in Pilsen. We cannot ignore the difficulties festivals are enduring right now but we can absolutely be grateful for working hard to find ways to keep us up to date with some of the worlds best.
This year Chicago International Film Festival is kicking up their opening night with the highly anticipated world premier of the upcoming SHOWTIME® original documentary *Belushi*. The doc features a number of never before heard interviews with close friends, family and colleagues of **John Belushi** discussing the complicated life and tragic demise of the comedy legend. A one of a kind documentary shining a light on a once in a lifetime entertainer. After opening with a doc that is sure to move its audiences, the festival keeps the momentum going with a diverse lineup of feature films from across the globe including short films from 46 different countries. Such is the power and influence of international film festivals such as this one and spanning every genre in existence.
Below you can find some of the films featured in this *56th* annual iteration of the festival. Make sure to visit chicagofilmfestival.com for the full program and make sure you catch these films if you can. Keep an eye out for more on Chicago International Film Festival on our site, including mini-reviews for all of the content we catch while attending virtually!
And Tomorrow the Entire World
Language: German with English subtitles
Synopsis: How far would you go to stand up for what you believe in? Wide-eyed and idealistic law student Luisa is convinced by best friend Batte to move into an Antifa commune in Berlin, leaving the comfort of her parents’ middle-class home behind. While most of the residents hold to non-violent ideals, one faction, led by the charismatic Alfa, starts preparing to take more radical action to counter the ever-louder voices of their adversaries on the far-right. Already torn between her loyalty to her longtime friend and her attraction to Alfa, Luisa soon finds herself surprised by the changing nature of her own personal and political convictions. This urgent, layered drama finely details the many faces of activism and dissects the nature of justice in the face of extremis
Countries: Greece, Poland, Slovenia
Language: Greek with English subtitles
Synopsis: In this chimerical, brooding feature debut, a mysterious pandemic rages across the globe causing sudden amnesia in the infected. When solitary Aris is afflicted, he finds himself enrolled in an experimental rehabilitation program. His treatment: performing prescribed tasks mimicking life’s milestone moments and capturing these new memories with a Polaroid camera. Just as Aris is finding his footing, an encounter with a woman undergoing the same therapy sets him on a different path. Through images deadpan, strange, and surreal, Yorgos Lanthimos collaborator Christos Nikou posits a beguiling reflection on memory, identity, nostalgia, and loss.
Country: The Netherlands
Language: Dutch with English subtitles
Synopsis: Femke is over it! The constant critique, the gaslighting for speaking her truth, the trolls’ anonymous, sexist insults. A columnist for a revered publication in The Netherlands, the divorced, city-dwelling single mother faces a daily barrage of negativity on social media. Sure, she shouldn’t read the comments, but who doesn’t read the comments?! Meanwhile, her teenage daughter is waging a fiendishly clever campaign for free speech against her high school principal. After enduring another disgusting round of ridicule for a recent piece, Femke snaps. A satisfying, bloody, and hilarious revenge tale that dares to confront bullies in the most delightfully dark ways.
The Dark and The Wicked
Synopsis: A secluded home, a looming menace, a family struggling to stay united. If you think you’ve seen this one before, rising talent Bryan Bertino (The Strangers) wrenches a whole new level of terror from this harrowing fable for our grief-stricken times. When adult siblings Louise and Michael return to the farm where they grew up to say goodbye to their dying father and comfort their distressed mother, they soon find themselves overwhelmed by waking nightmares and an unstoppable evil that threatens to consume them all. Suffused with dread and disturbing turns for the worse, The Dark and the Wicked taps into deep anxieties about our responsibilities to our loved ones—while also taking us on a spine-chilling trip.
Synopsis: After 17 years in New York, working to support his family back in Angola, Walter has grown ever more comfortable living as a single man in the U.S. When wife Esther and daughter Sylvia are finally able to join him in the city, the three must find a way to reconnect as the time apart has rendered them virtual strangers. Arranged in chapters told from the perspective of each character, this insightful, beautifully conceived film captures the immigrant experience with finely detailed nuance, as Sylvia’s embrace of urban youth culture and dance sets the stage for an inevitable clash of values. From their colliding worlds, can they fashion an entirely new sense of home?
Gaza Mon Amour
Countries: Palestine, France, Germany, Portugal, Qatar
Language: Arabic with English subtitles
Synopsis: Sixty-year-old Palestinian fisherman and lifelong bachelor Issa (Salim Daw) holds a secret torch for Siham (Hiam Abbas), a dressmaker at the market. Just as he is getting up the courage to propose to her, Issa nets an ancient statue of a well-endowed, larger-than-life-sized Apollo. When the Hamas authorities get wind of the existence of this mysterious treasure, the troubles begin. Has Apollo fated Issa to a loveless life? Will he be able to find his way back to Siham? Twin directors Tarzan and Arab Nasser (Dégradé) return to the Festival with this gentle, layered love story set against a playfully sly snapshot of life in modern-day Gaza, with all of its entanglements and absurdity.
I am Greta
Language: English, Swedish with English subtitles
Synopsis: Sometimes, it takes only one person to start a movement. This captivating documentary tracks teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg for a momentous 13 months, from her initial school strike for climate justice outside the Swedish Parliament to her astonishing wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. With remarkable access to Thunberg and her father, Swedish director Nathan Grossman paints both an intimate and candid portrait of a savvy, indefatigable girl unafraid of her detractors and an inspiring look at her unceasing battle to save the planet. A Hulu Original Documentary.
Kubrick by Kubrick
Country: France, Poland
Language: English, French, Italian with English subtitles.
Synopsis: A trove of never-before-heard audio recordings forms the spine of this cinematic essay on the methods and madness of master director Stanley Kubrick. Bouncing between the exquisitely crafted worlds of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon and the dark, violent terrain of A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket, this rhapsodic documentary teases out some of the notoriously reclusive filmmaker’s inspirations—from Jungian philosophy to anti-authoritarian politics—as it celebrates the mysteries and intricacies inherent in his work. Above all, the film is an eye-opening tribute to Kubrick’s singular, enduring filmography.
Language: French with English subtitles
Synopsis: Seven-year-old Sasha has always identified as a girl. Initially resistant, her parents have come to embrace what Sasha has known all along, and so begins their journey together in a slow-to-adapt world. A stand-out at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, Little Girl is a profound and heartrending portrait of Sasha’s everyday struggles to be recognized by her school, her peers, and her small community in Northeastern France. Beautifully crafted and intimately photographed, Cannes award-winner Sébastien Lifshitz’s latest gem offers compassionate insight into the pains, joys, and simple yet sublime victories Sasha experiences in her search for acceptance.
Of Fish and Men
Language: Swiss-German with subtitles
Synopsis: In the lush Swiss countryside, single mom Judith is raising her young daughter Milla while running the family fish farm with the help of worker and friend Gabriel. The three live and labor quietly in their peaceful corner of the world. When the unexpected arrival of Gabriel’s brother threatens that tranquility, the specter of impending disaster casts a shadow over their pastoral life. When the devastation comes, it’s chilling. This taut thriller poses provocative questions about the weight of guilt, the complexity of forgiveness, and the price of redemption
One Time In Miami
Synopsis: On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gather to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. When underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). Based on the award-winning play of the same name, One Night in Miami is a fictional account inspired by the historic night these four formidable figures spent together. It looks at the struggles these men faced and the vital role they each played in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 1960s. More than 40 years later, their conversations on racial injustice, religion, and personal responsibility still resonate.
The Woman Who Ran
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean with English subtitles
Synopsis: Apart from her husband for the first time in years, Gamhee (played by inimitable Kim Minhee) has a series of encounters with friends both planned and by chance. Over the course of their conversations, details about her life and relationship with her spouse begin to emerge. Is she trying to escape from something? Veteran filmmaker Hong Sangsoo’s trademark minimalism is on full display as he forgoes overly-scripted scenarios for more natural, improvisatory moods. Long takes and dialogue-heavy scenes are punctuated by empathetic, sometimes hilarious zoom-ins. Tenderly crafted and impeccably performed, the film skillfully observes the comedic dysfunction of everyday human communication.