The 47th Chicago International Film Festival runs October 6 - 20 in Chicago, Illinois.
The competition lineup at the 47th Chicago International Film Festival with descriptions and credits provided by the event: The festival presenting more than 180independent films from 50 countries, including over 45 films by first-time directors.
New Directors Competition
This selection of first and second feature films, all U.S. premieres.
A Little Closer USA (Director: Matt Petock) — This lyrical portrait of life in small town Virginia finds a single mother struggling to keep it together, working as a housekeeper and looking for love. Meanwhile, her two adolescent sons explore their own sexuality in the sweltering, stagnant days of summer. This debut family drama presents an intimate study of the emotional landscape of rural America. North American Premiere.
Corrode India (Director: Karan Gour) — Chhaya, a woman of limited means, leads a good, decent life alongside her husband Arvind—until she becomes obsessed with a sculpture of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. Chhaya will stop at nothing to bring home this statue, and soon her past weaknesses and disappointments (including a miscarriage) bubble to the surface, consuming and corroding her soul. Corrode is the latest example of an exciting new wave of independent Indian cinema. World Premiere.
Hotel Swooni Belgium (Director: Kaat Beels) — What is happiness? How do we grasp it? Six characters fumble desperately as their lives intersect over the course of one day and night in Brussels’ luxurious Hotel Swooni. A couple must face the truth about their marriage, while a mother and daughter seek to repair their fractured relationship and a young African boy urgently searches for his missing father. Emotions run high in this surprising kaleidoscope of hopes and doubts, passion and betrayal, at the hotel in which no one checks out quite the same as they checked in. U.S. Premiere.
Land of Oblivion France (Director: Michale Boganim) To the citizens of Prypiat, April 26, 1986 began just like any other day. Anya (Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace) and Piotr celebrate their marriage while young Valery spends time with his physicist father, oblivious to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that is irrevocably changing their lives. What follows is a lyrical, pathos-filled portrait of the next ten years of those powerless to separate themselves from the town and its defining tragedy. U.S. Premiere.
Machete Language Mexico (Director: Kyzza Terrazas) — It’s one thing to talk, or even sing, about revolution. It’s another to take one up. Raised in middle class families, Ray and Ramona are not blind to the corruption and injustice that engulf the less fortunate in their country. Ramona finds an outlet in her music, but Ray struggles to find a cause—until he settles on a course of action that might be downright revolutionary…and lethal. Shot hand-held, Machete possesses a nervous, unsettling energy that mirrors its characters own near-frenzied search for purpose. North American Premiere.
Oslo, August 31 Norway (Director: Jaochim Trier) – Nearing the end of drug rehab, the talented and handsome thirty-something Anders is given leave to interview for a job in Oslo. He spends the day and night visiting old haunts, reconnecting with friends, and searching for a hint of meaning and hope in the new life ahead of him. Strikingly shot and with a touch of comedy, this homage to the French New Wave presents a compelling study of loneliness and the possibility of redemption. U.S. Premiere.
Return Ticket China/Taiwan (Director: Yung-shing Teng) — After working for two years at a failed clothing enterprise, migrant worker Cao Li returns to Shanghai to try her hand again. Reconnecting with hometown friends Guo and Jiuzi, she gets drawn into a scheme, illegally chartering a bus to take fellow Fuyang natives home for the New Year holiday. Cao Li, unsure herself of whether or not she herself will return home, has her own misgivings about their scam, in this intimate, rarely seen portrait of a migrant culture. North American Premiere.
The Clown Brazil (Director: Selton Mello) — What do those who make people laugh for a living think is funny? Benjamin, a clown traveling with the Circus Esperanza, tackles this question and more when he decides to leave the circus and pursue his dreams. With only a copy of his birth certificate in hand, Benjamin looks for answers and for his identity away from the bright lights of the big top. North American Premiere.
The Good Son Finland (Director: Zaida Bergroth) — Seventeen-year-old Ilmari has spent most of his young life looking after his mother, Leila, a renowned actress who loves to be the center of attention, and his younger brother. After a recent scandal, Leila takes all three of them to a distant island for a quiet weekend but soon grows bored and invites all of her friends over for a party. There, she falls for scriptwriter Aimo, and soon Ilmari’s resentment explodes in this tragic portrait of a dysfunctional family. U.S. Premiere.
The Return of Joe Rich USA (Director: Sam Auster) — He lost his job, his wife and his home, but not his sense of honor. When Joe returns to Chicago he looks up his aging but still dangerous Uncle Dom in the hopes of getting “connected” and living the life of a made man. When Uncle Dom resists, Joe makes him an offer he can’t refuse. World Premiere.
The Slut Israel (Director: Hagar Ben-Asher) — Winner of the Best Director prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Hagar Ben-Asher’s alternative, almost anti-cautionary tale presents Tamar, a beautiful, young single mother with a seemingly insatiable sexual appetite. While running a chicken farm with her two daughters, she finds servicing the village’s lackluster men gets her through the inconveniences of everyday life. That is until a hunky veterinarian comes to town. U.S. Premiere.
Southwest Brazil (Director: Eduardo Nunes) — In a small fishing village in Brazil, Clarice experiences her entire life, beginning at birth, in the space of a day. The villagers remain oblivious to Clarice’s unique situation, living life just like us, one day at a time. In an attempt to understand her reality, Clarice tries to change her destiny as well as the destiny of those around her in this haunting and thought-provoking film. North American Premiere.
Volcano Iceland/Denmark (Director: Rúnar Rúnarsson) — An unconventional coming-of-age tale wrapped in a tender love story, this debut feature presents a portrait of compassionate devotion and an unflinching look at aging. When Hannes retires at age 67, it seems that life—well, meaningful life—has come to an end. Estranged from family and friends, Hannes’ most intimate relationship is with his boat, until a series of drastic events causes him to take stock of his life. U.S. Premiere.
Wetlands Canada (Director: Guy Édoin) — Saddled with a guilt no teenager should have to bear, 17-year-old brooding Simon feels starkly out of place on his parents’ struggling dairy farm. Life on the farm is demanding, but no matter how hard Simon tries, he cannot live up to his father’s expectations. Resentments simmer, so when a tragic accident hits close to home, the question of blame haunts the family and possibilities for forgiveness seem ever remote in this captivating family drama. U.S. Premiere.
Women and Children France/UK (Director: Daniel Mitelpunkt) — Joe just doesn’t get it. He has been enjoying the slacker life—until he finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant. He is finally ready to settle down, but can a leopard ever change his spots? Enlisting the help of his best friend, Joe sets out to make amends for past misdemeanors in this Woody Allen-esque comedy. World Premiere.
International Feature Competition
Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these films compete for the festival’s top honor, the Gold Hugo—as well as awards for best actors, director, and writer.
Best Intentions Romania (Director: Adrian Sitaru) — One morning, Alex receives a devastating phone call: his mother has just been hospitalized after suffering a stroke. Desperate to control the situation but overwhelmed by conflicting advice from friends, family and medical staff, he attempts to take matters into his own hands. Unfortunately things do not go as planned and he is caught in a downward spiral of accusatory anger and frustration. This daring addition to the Romanian New Wave, based on the director’s real life experience, brims with emotional impact and authenticity. U.S. Premiere.
Cairo 678 Egypt (Director: Mohamed Diab) —Three Egyptian women from different social backgrounds join forces to fight against their country’s tolerance toward sexual harassment. Nelly files the first sexual harassment lawsuit in the history of the country, Seba, a victim of a gang rape, teaches self-defense, and Fayza takes these self-defense lessons a step too far. An expertly crafted combination of character study, social critique, and vigilante action, Cairo 678 is one of those rare films that resonates with audiences of both genders and across cultural divides. Chicago Premiere.
Chronicle of My Mother Japan (Director: Masato Harada) — Best-selling novelist Kosaku Igami has made a career out of using his family as fodder for his novels, much to their dismay. When his mother, the spirited family matriarch, is diagnosed with dementia, Igami must come to terms with the toll his own behavior has taken on his increasingly distant family and resolve his own long-simmering resentments. Evocative of classic Ozu, this gorgeously wrought epic family portrait explores the tenderness and trappings of familial bonds. U.S. Premiere.
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart Hong Kong / (Director: Johnny To) — Legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Johnny To (TRIAD ELECTION) returns to the world of comedy with this achingly sweet tale. Charming Zixin finds herself in a love triangle with two men that are as handsome as they are different. To tells a purely whimsical tale where neither time nor space can hold back love’s grand gestures while revealing an amusing touch that might not be familiar to the fans of his action-packed films. Chicago Premiere.
Forgiveness of Blood USA / ALBANIA (Director: Joshua Marston) — Nik is your run-of-the-mill digitally savvy fun-loving teenager. But his dreams for the future come to a screeching halt when a long-simmering feud between his father and a man who inherited land that once belonged to Nik’s family comes to a violent end. Now, thanks to an ancient Albanian law, Nik and his brother find themselves under house arrest while their father is on the lam, causing already high tensions to reach a boiling point in this tense drama. Chicago Premiere.
The Giants Belgium (Director: Bouli Lanners) — Abandoned at their late grandfather’s house for the summer, teenage brothers Zak and Seth are left to their own devices. With the endless possibilities of summer fun and (mis)adventure to be had in the idyllic Belgian countryside, the world, they feel, is their oyster. But when money runs short and with no help in sight, the boys scheme to support themselves by renting their home to a local drug dealer. A Mark Twain adventure-like tale takes a dark turn in The Giants, artfully capturing the underside of carefree youth. North American Premiere.
Goodbye Iran (Director: Mohammad Rasoulof) — In this gripping film shot semi-clandestinely, a young disbarred female lawyer with an exiled husband and an unwanted pregnancy tries to secure a visa to leave the country. Tension builds slowly and meticulously as the heroine faces off against an oppressive regime, the walls slowly closing in around her. This terrifying portrait of modern-day Iran was a winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. U.S. Premiere.
Joint Body USA (Director: Brian Jun) — Noir infused characters, with plenty to be paranoid about, are thrown together in a desperate situation when recent parolee Nick Burke (Lost’s Mark Pellegrino) comes to the aid of Michelle (Friday Night Lights’ Alicia Witt), an exotic dancer living in a mysterious self-imposed exile in downstate Illinois. When they’re forced to team up and on the lam, the two wonder whether they can even trust each other. Chicago Premiere.
Le Havre Finland / France (Director: Aki Kaurismäki) — Humanity and dead-pan wit triumph in Aki Kauriskmäki’s magical tale of an aging Bohemian shoeshine and a young African refugee. When fate lands Idrissa at Marcel Marx’s doorstep in the French port city of Le Havre, Marcel knows what has to be done. Enlisting the help of the whole neighborhood of eccentrics and in defiance of all authority, he embarks on a risky plan to reconnect the boy with his mother. Chicago Premiere.
Miss Bala Mexico (Director: Gerardo Naranjo) — Equal doses of unrelenting action, beauty queen fantasy and social disquiet rule this detached tale of drug trafficking in Baja California, inspired by a true story. On her way to compete in her first beauty pageant, Laura is swept up in a gangland slaying and suddenly finds herself forced to work as a mule in order to save her own life. Chicago Premiere.
The Mole Poland (Director: Rafael Lewandowski) — Pawel and his father Zygmunt make a living importing second hand clothing from France to Poland. When Zygmunt is suddenly and publicly accused of being a past Communist informant, he flees the country leaving the stubbornly apolitical Pawel to pick up the pieces and face the pervading legacy of Poland’s troubled past. With strong performances and sympathetic characters, The Mole candidly explores how the weight of history affects a son’s love for his family and his motherland. U.S. Premiere.
Nobody Else But You France (Director: Gérald Hustache-Mathieu) — The ambiguous suicide of a local beauty, weathergirl, cheese model, and Marilyn Monroe look-a-like finds an eager sleuth in David Rousseau, best-selling crime novelist. When Rousseau visits a remote Alps village for the reading of his friend’s will he unwittingly, but irresistibly, gets caught in the tangled web of murder and small town politics in this offbeat mystery. North American Premiere.
Wild Bill UK (Dir. Dexter Fletcher)—Not everyone is pleased when wild Bill Hayward rolls into town after serving eight years in jail on drug charges. His two sons, Dean and Jimmy, have been living alone ever since their mother abandoned them, and his old cohorts want Bill back in the “saddle” again. Bill and his sons begin to bond, but trouble strikes when Jimmy gets mixed up with his father’s old crew, causing Bill to realize that the town ain’t big enough for the both of them in this contemporary Western influenced gangster vehicle set in London’s East End. North American Premiere.
The Woman in the Fifth France / UK / Poland (Director: Pawel Pawlikowski) — Reality and imagination become indistinguishable in this loose adaptation of Douglas Kennedy’s novel. Tom (Ethan Hawke in an extraordinary performance) arrives in Paris to reconnect with his daughter, even though his ex-wife has placed a restraining order against him. To make ends meet, Tom accepts a job as a watchman for a seedy operation. Life takes a strange turn when he meets mysterious Margit (Kristin Scott-Thomas), and down the rabbit hole he goes in this strange Kafka-esque tale. Chicago Premiere.
Tyrannosaur UK (Director: Paddy Considine) — Actor/Director Paddy Considine (In America) delivers a gritty tale of self-destruction and redemption in his feature-length directorial debut. Expanded from his award-winning short film, Dog Altogether, Tyrannosaur follows the unlikely friendship between rage-filled Joseph (Peter Mullan) and Christian Goodwill store worker, Hannah (Olivia Colman). Mullan’s electrifying performance finds a perfect counterpoint in Colman’s measured portrayal. Chicago Premiere.
All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert USA (Director: Vivian Ducat) — If there was ever a case for designating a person as a National Treasure, Winfred Rembert is that person. Though he lived through segregation and the civil rights era in the deep South, Rembert didn’t begin his life as an artist until the 1990s. Working on cured leather canvasses that are later painted, Rembert depicts a personalized form of US history that you can’t get in books or anywhere else for that matter. Chicago Premiere.
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life USA (Director: Dori Berinstein) — Inspiring, heartwarming, hilarious and full of life, this portrait of the Tony® and Golden Globe® award winning actress, singer and comedienne weaves Broadway history with an unbelievable love story to capture the unique persona behind the iconic performances in Hello Dolly and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Stay for the end credits: the film’s outtakes just cannot be missed. Chicago Premiere.
Cinema Komunisto Serbia (Director: Mira Turjalic) — If the illusion of reality is the currency of cinema, then cinephile and former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito bought and paid for his countries thrilling and heroic (but mostly made up) history. This award-winning documentary chronicles the 40-year history of Avala studio, built by Tito to crank out well-made propaganda films in order to shape and control his country’s image in a post-war world. This veritable compendium of archival footage and clips from over 60 classic Yugoslav films includes remembrances from Tito’s personal projectionist. Chicago Premiere.
Day is Done Switzerland (Director: Thomas Imbach) — Fifteen years of 35mm footage shot almost entirely from one vantage point overlooking the back of the Zurich train station is paired with fifteen years of answering machine messages to form an unlikely portrait of the artist. Though unseen and unheard, Thomas Imbach allows a full persona to develop from the voices and tone of each caller and the objects his camera chooses, follows and lingers over. North American Premiere.
Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel USA (Director: Lisa Immordino Vreeland) — A true American visionary, Diana Vreeland became the first fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar in 1936 and from there proceeded to invent the concept of fashion as we now know it. A talented writer with a larger than life personality, she had an innate ability to discover designers, photographers and new ideas, often to the point of controversy. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s delightfully playful tribute uses archival footage, family photos and an animated conversation with George Plympton. Chicago Premiere.
Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s “Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel”
Ending Note: Death of a Japanese Salesman Japan (Director: Mami Sunada) — When a recently retired Japanese businessman is diagnosed with incurable cancer, he reacts to the news with the same pragmatic approach that made him a successful salesman. In her directorial debut, Mami Sunada combines non-fiction film form with the growing trend of “end of life journals” among the elderly in Japan. By channeling her thoughts and feelings through her father’s “ending note,” Sunada abstracts the weight of a life and the pain of loss into a surprisingly hopeful and life-affirming message. North American Premiere.
Inshallah, Football India (Director: Ashvin Kumar) —The fast-paced game of the world’s most popular sport is contrasted against the slow turning gears of democracy in this controversial documentary. With help from a committed South American coach and his charming wife, 18-year-old Kashmiri soccer player Basharat is good enough to go play in Brazil but can’t obtain a visa due to his father’s militant past. More than a coming-of-age story about a teen who dreams of living as a free citizen, it is also a coming-of-age story for democracy in India. North American Premiere.
L.A. Raeven: Beyond the Image The Netherlands (Director: Lisa Boerstra) — Lisbeth and Angelique Raeven are twin sisters who comprise the somewhat notorious video and performance duo L.A. Raeven. Their complex and strained relationship unfolds in front of Lisa Boerstra’s intimate camera while they work and live through the creation of two new performance pieces. Inter-cutting scenes from earlier work and home videos from their childhood, viewers are privy to the daily routines and conversations at the home and studio they share. North American Premiere.
Love Always, Carolyn Sweden (Directors: Malin Korkeasalo and Maria Ramström) — Muse, mother, wife, and lover, Carolyn Cassady was the great woman behind two of the Beat Generations greatest men: Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac. As the model for Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty in On The Road, Neal was a living legend who often left Carolyn and the kids behind for grand adventures in the beatnik universe. This endearing portrait from first-time directors Maria Ramström and Malin Korkeasalo celebrates the wit, beauty, grace, and normalcy of an overlooked figure from one of American literature’s most popular moments. Chicago Premiere.
On the Bridge France/USA (Director: Olivier Morel) — PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can be a whole new kind of war for our young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The opposite of fighting alongside your brothers and sisters in arms, this battle is often fought alone, against demons the soldier hides from others. The power of the documentary form is strongly felt as On the Bridge not only gives voice to the personal trauma our warriors endure, but also as a means to help them honor their service and move forward as Americans. Chicago Premiere.
Salaam Dunk USA/Iraq (Director: David Fine) — When violent images of Iraq are all the Western world is accustomed to, it’s easy to forget that life continues in the war-torn nation. At the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani, life does just that, as is extraordinarily personified by the university’s women’s basketball team. In a sports movie for the ages, Salaam Dunk follows the team’s season, chronicling their triumphs and tragedies both on and off the court. North American Premiere.
Valley of the Forgotten Brazil (Director: Maria Raduan) — In a secluded area of Brazil’s Mato Grosso region, an impossible land dispute rages between Indians evicted from their homeland, squatters, land-grabbers, the Landless Workers Movement, and the ranchers who own property. With no resolution in sight and violence threatening to erupt at any moment, the film looks closely at each group’s perspective, offering a meditation on the concept of private property across social and cultural boundaries. U.S. Premiere.
After Dark Competition
Cold Sweat Argentina (Director: Adrián García Bolagno) — Online dating? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, apparently, you could find yourself trapped in an old house at the mercy of a pair of aging right-wing revolutionaries turned sadists with a penchant for torturing young women with decaying dynamite and buckets of nitroglycerin. Prolific low-budget horror maestro Bogliano serves up a stylish slice of extreme genre cinema, which also alludes to the troubled state of generational politics in his homeland. Chicago Premiere.
Haunters South Korea (Director: Min-suk Kim) — A young thief’s ability to control minds is frustrated when he meets one just beyond his reach in this fast-paced Korean action thriller. On a routine robbery of a pawnshop, things go terribly awry and an epic cat and mouse game quickly ensues, taking the viewer on a supercharged tour of Seoul at night. Chicago Premiere.
Juan of the Dead Cuba (Director: Alejandro Brugues) — Juan is a lovable loser content to loaf around the streets of Havana wisecracking, womanizing, and wiling away the days with a motley crew of fellow drifters. But when what seems at first to be dissident rumblings in the city turns into a full-on flesh-eating zombie onslaught, Juan and his gang go into business as “Juan of the Dead” – a crack team of slayers specializing in the undead. This wild romp through the streets of the Cuban capital is a perfectly pitched blend of horror and laughs. Chicago Premiere.
Rabies Israel (Director: Aharon Keshales) — Take the classic horror movie formula: hot girls lost in the woods, marauding homicidal maniacs, and gallons of blood and gore. Add some dark humor, sharp, witty dialogue, and unexpected twists and voilá, you get Rabies, Israel’s critically acclaimed first foray into the slasher genre. Sophisticated enough to appeal to a broad audience but with sufficient splatter to satisfy the hardcore genre fan, Rabies is an exhilarating and highly enjoyable viewing experience. Chicago Premiere.
Smuggler Japan (Director: Katsuhito Ishii) — From the man who created the celebrated “O-Ren Ishii” animated sequence in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 comes this stylish and outrageous but brutal film that makes Tarantino’s work look like family fare. In serious debt to local yakuza gangsters, Kinuta is coerced into taking a job as a smuggler of dead bodies for the Japanese underworld to settle the accounts, only to find himself caught in the middle of a bloody gang war. Based on the popular eponymous manga, Smuggler has all the makings of a cult cinema classic: slo-mo action sequences, runway-ready gangsters, nimble nunchuk wielding, and enough blood to make the Chicago River run red. Chicago Premiere.
Snowtown Australia (Director: Justin Kurzel) — Based on true events, this skillfully crafted psychological thriller centers on 16-year-old Jamie, who lives in a squalid, crime-ridden slum on the outskirts of Adelaide. When John Bunting, a charismatic older man, enters his life, he offers friendship and escape from his deadbeat existence. But as Bunting’s behavior becomes increasingly sinister, Jamie finds himself caught up in horrors he could never have imagined as he realizes his new father figure is actually a cold-blooded serial killer. Chicago Premiere.
The Holding UK (Director: Susan Jacobson) — After Cassie murders her abusive husband, a manipulative neighbor tries to run her off her land. Help seems to come in the form of gruff Scotsman Aden, but Cassie soon regrets letting Aden into her life when his true nature begins to manifest itself. Stylish direction and taut performances keep adrenaline running high in this accomplished, atmospheric gothic thriller. U.S. Premiere.
The Whisperer in Darkness (Director: Sean Branney) — Based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in Darkness is an eerily deft recreation of classic 1930’s studio horror fare. Professor Albert Wilmart, a smug skeptic, is forced to question his views by a series of increasingly bizarre encounters with the supernatural. Genuinely terrifying and highly entertaining, Whisperer is a fitting homage for Lovecraft aficionados and, for newcomers, a perfect introduction to one of the great horror masterminds of the 20th century. Chicago Premiere.
The Yellow Sea South Korea (Director: Na Hong-Jin) — When taxi driver Gu-nam finds himself in financial straits, he accepts a proposal from local mob boss to travel to Seoul to kill a professor. Once Gu-Nam arrives in the capital city, he discovers he isn’t the only person targeting the professor and in a quick turn of events, finds himself on the run. Gu-nam must use every survival instinct he has in order to stay one step ahead of his pursuers in this thrilling man-on-the-run crime drama. Chicago Premiere.
Short Film Competition
Seven Short Film programs will screen back-to-back throughout Friday, October 14 and Saturday, October 15. Visit www.chicagofilmfestival.com to view the full list of titles.
Shorts 1: City & State — A combination of narrative, documentary and animated short films shining the light on talented local filmmakers. 80 min.
Shorts 2: Pen & Paper — A stunning panorama of new animated shorts from around the world. 87 min.
Shorts 3: Midnight Mayhem — Zombies, ghosts, murderers and more go on the rampage in this miniature showcase of terror. 100 min.
Shorts 4: In N’Out — A series of provocative shorts exploring sex and relationships in unique and hilarious ways. 63 min.
Shorts 5: When Worlds Collide — Unsettling, surprising and off-kilter encounters abound in these eight compelling and carefully crafted films. 83 min.
Shorts 6: A Question of Timing — A selection of international shorts which encompass the sublime, the ridiculous, and everything in between. 75 min.
Shorts 7: Truth Be Told — Original documentary shorts that have won international acclaim for their fresh approaches and sensitive storytelling. 67 min.