Reviews, Reports + Comments

Saturday, February 12, 2011


2009, 10-03:


It’s B-A-A-A-CK!  Yes, for the 45th year, the Chicago Int’l Film Festival will open its doors to the world & more than 108 of the planet’s films from October 8 thru the 22nd.  (And that figure doesn’t count the various short & animated films & other events, + the fact that most films will be shown 2 or 3 times during the Fest). 

  This year, to make it easier to go from film to film, they’ve consolidated their screening location at the AMC21 River East (322 E. Illinois), using up to 7 theaters there.  There is currently a ticket BOOTH at the theater (open noon to 8 PM 7 days a week) to order tickets for upcoming films  (and, as of October 9, it’ll stay open until the start of each day’s last film).  The Festival Office at 30 E Adams (Suite 800) also has tickets available for purchase Mon-Fri from 10 AM to 6 PM. 

  Online, you can make purchases at
 (& can even get tickets delivered by e-mail via their “TicketFast” feature). You can also go to to order PASSES (rather than individual tickets).

  You can also use the PHONE:  the Festival Hotline is # 312-332-FILM [= -3456], with a $ 3 handling fee.  Or, the Ticketmaster # is 800-982-2787 (& handling fees would apply).

  Ticket prices are as follows:  Individual tickets for “regular” programs will cost $ 12 each ($ 9 each for CINEMA / CHICAGO Festival Members);  $ 15 each ($ 12 for Members) for “Special” Presentations;  $ 25 each ($ 20 for Members) for “Gala” Presentations (which usually involve a special appearance by 1 or more people involved in MAKING the film in question);  & various prices for the Opening, Closing & Centerpiece films (which I’ll discuss later). 

  They will also offer a new MATINEE ticketing called “5 x 5”, wherein any “regular” film scheduled to start before 5:05 PM Monday thru Friday (October 12-16 & October 19-21) will cost just $ 5 each. 

  To save money, you can buy a “MOVIEGOER” Pass allowing admission to 10 “regular” features (on an as-available basis) for $ 110 ($ 80 for Members);  or, a “PASSPORT” allowing 20 “regular” feature admissions (on an as-available basis) for $ 210 ($ 155 for Members). 

  (No refunds or exchanges are available on any individual film unless a film is cancelled.  Also, you must be IN the theater 15 minutes before the published start-time of the film or they reserve the right to sell your seat. Advance sales normally must be placed at least 48 hours prior to showtime, seemingly for tickets not being picked up in person).

  Please understand that, some films sell out way AHEAD of time.  For example, the October 8th OPENING NITE comedy film “MOTHERHOOD” -- with appearances by star UMA THURMAN (including a Career Achievement award to her) & Director Katherine Dieckmann -- is already completely SOLD-OUT (for both the Award Presentation + Screening, & the after-film Cocktail Reception option at the WIT Hotel).

   I have been told that, for “regular” films (meaning, NOT including the “Gala” & “Special” presentations or the 10-22 Closing Nite film), they plan to sell “RUSH” tickets:  what that means is, around 30 minutes before the scheduled start time of “regular” films, they will start making a “WAIT LIST” for unticketed people already at the theater who want to see the film in question…

  Then, for prepaid tickets where the holder has NOT shown up within 15 minutes before the start of the film, they will start to OFFER those unused tickets on a 1st-come, 1st-served purchase basis to those on the Wait List in question…

  Here are some of the more “INTRIGUING” screenings & events announced:

October 9 (Fri.):  Film Producer PAULA WAGNER (of “MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE”, “THE OTHERS” & “VANILLA SKY”) will moderate a 2 PM PANEL discussion at theWIT Hotel, 201 N State, called “WHERE IS IT ALL GOING” on the present & future of film production & distribution.  This is a FREE event which is “open only to accredited industry members” (for which I’m trying to get a detailed “description”)…  

  October 9 (Fri.):  Director JOHN WOO is scheduled to attend the 7:30 PM screening of his “Gala” presentation film “RED CLIFF”.  This is the story of the 3rd Century battle that ended the Han Dynasty in China, & it also involves “scandals, spies and romance”.

  October 10 (Sat.):  There is a FREE panel discussion about film SHORTS called “Life Is Short” scheduled for 4 PM at the Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington).  But, there’s a typo ERROR in the brochure re the date (which MIGHT instead be on Sunday the 11th); I’m trying to get a CORRECTED date re this.

  October 10 (Sat.):  For the “Gala” presentation “THE MESSENGER” (at 8 PM), Director OREN MOVERMAN & star BEN FOSTER are scheduled to appear in PERSON.  This is the story of Army men (Ben & Woody Harrelson) who have to deliver news to people about the death of soldiers.

  October 11 (Sunday):    Danish director LONE SCHERFIG is scheduled to attend the 6 PM screening of his “Gala” presentation film “AN EDUCATION” (featuring Peter Sarsgaard as an “older man” with a younger girl student played by Carey Mulligan).

  October 12 (Mon.):  You can get FREE tickets at the box office to attend a 3:30 PM panel discussion at the AMC21 called “New Voices From The Americas”, wherein filmmakers from across the Americas will discuss “film-making in a global context”.
  October 12 (Mon.):  Star WILLEM DAFOE is scheduled to attend the 7 PM screening of his “Gala” presentation film “ANTICHRIST” about a grieving couple. His co-star, CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG, won the Best Actress award for her “let it all hang out” performance in this at the Cannes Film Festival…

  I have attended an ADVANCE screening of the film, & will soon give you my thoughts about it.  But, the “after film” TALKS are usually FASCINATING, & I would expect this to be no exception given the exceptionally difficult work Dafoe had to do in this film… 

  October 13 (Tues.):  At 5 PM, a FREE panel discussion called “I KNOW A WOMAN LIKE THAT” will be held at the FILM ROW CINEMA 8th Floor auditorium at COLUMBIA COLLEGE (1104 S. Wabash)…

  It will be moderated by DOREEN BARTONI, Dean of the School of Media Arts, & is scheduled to include OSCAR-nominated actress VIRGINIA MADSEN, EMMY-award-winning writer / filmmaker ELAINE MADSEN, “and other inspirational women from the Chicago area”…

  October 13 (Tues.):  Award-winning actress IRMA P. HALL is scheduled to appear in person for the 8:30 PM “regular” film screening of her film “RAIN” from the Bahamas.  (The film alone will also be screening on October 9th at 6:15 PM & on the 12th at 3:45 PM). 

                                      Ms. Hall is a veteran of more than 50 films (including roles as “Big Mama” in “SOUL FOOD” & as the “lady” in Tom Hanks’ “THE LADYKILLERS”), & was just seen in a Toronto Film Festival advance screening of “MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE DONE” by director WERNER HERZOG (who was first “discovered” by the Chicago Int’l Film Festival !)…

                                      It’s likely that Ms. Hall will ALSO appear at a special “EDUCATIONAL” screening of the “RAIN” film aimed especially for schoolkids at 10 AM on Wed., October 14th…  

  October 14 (Wed.):  At 4 PM, a FREE panel discussion called “GETTING YOUR FILM INTO THE MARKETPLACE” will be held in Room 709 at COLUMBIA COLLEGE (1104 S. Wabash).  It will be moderated by TOM FRATERRIGO of their Department of Film & Video, & will include filmmaker’s such as local man BRIAN CAUNTER (who did the impressive crime drama “CHICAGO OVERCOAT” which is already SOLD-OUT at this year’s Fest;  they are considering ADDING one or more additional screenings of it). 

  October 14 (Wed.):  The Festival’s “CENTERPIECE” film (as part of the 13th annual “Black Perspectives”) will be “PRECIOUS, based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire”.  At 6 PM, there will be “Red Carpet” arrivals for the film, which will screen at 6:30 PM. 

                                      At 8:30 PM, there will be a special TRIBUTE to its director, LEE DANIELS (who directed “SHADOWBOXER” in 2006 & in 2001 became the 1st sole African-American producer to win an OSCAR, for his film “MONSTER’S BALL”)…

                                        He will receive an Artistic Achievement Award from the Festival, & his new film’s star, GABOUREY “GABBY” SIDIBE, will receive the Festival’s “Breakthrough Performance Award”.  At 9 PM, there will be a Q&A with the honorees.

                                      The event described above has a Special price of $ 50 for the Film & Tribute.  For an additional $ 50, you would also be able to attend the special RECEPTION with cocktails & hors d’oeuvres which runs from 9:30 to 11:30 PM.

  October 16 (Fri.):  At 3 PM, a FREE panel discussion called “SCORE!  MUSIC ON FILM” will be held (in an as-yet-unannounced Room) at COLUMBIA COLLEGE (1104 S. Wabash).  Panelists will include BRUCE WEBB (“The Be All and End All”), CHARLES KIM of the Old Town School of Folk Music, & others.

  October 17 (Sat.):  There is a FREE panel discussion called “STORY OF MY LIFE” scheduled for 12 PM noon at the Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington).  A discussion will be held with local & Festival filmmakers re how to translate making films out of unique personal experiences.

  October 17 (Sat.):  At 2 PM, a FREE panel discussion called “TALKBACK” will be held in Room 302 at COLUMBIA COLLEGE (1104 S. Wabash).  ROGER BOBB (who is an award-winning supervising producer at TYLER PERRY STUDIOS) will talk about his experiences in the industry.  The moderator will be VAUN MONROE of the College’s Dept of Film & Video.

  October 17 (Sat.):  For the “Gala” 5 PM premiere of the new Director’s cut of the film “LOVELY, STILL”  (which concerns 2 older people – Oscar winners MARTIN LANDAU & ELLEN BURSTYN – who fall in love late in life when his health is weak), Mr. LANDAU is scheduled to appear in PERSON.

  October 17 (Sat.):  At 6 PM, as a “Gala” presentation, French director PATRICE CHEREAU of “INTIMACY” & “QUEEN MARGOT”) is scheduled to appear with his new film “PERSECUTION”, a psychological drama about a possessive relationship (starring Jean-Hughes Anglade, Romain Duris & Charlotte Gainsbourg).

  October 17 (Sat.):  A “Special Presentation” will be held at 7:45 PM for the film “LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND” starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Ann-Margaret & Ellen Burstyn.  This is a long-unproduced “Gothic tale” written by TENNESSEE WILLIAMS about an heiress who falls for a “handsome but humble guy” in the 1920’s.  Some “SPECIAL GUESTS” are scheduled to attend--  but they haven’t yet been “announced”.

  October 18 (Sunday):  For the 5 PM “Special” (50th anniversary) Presentation of the classic Hitchcock film “NORTH BY NORTHWEST” (featuring Cary Grant), star MARTIN LANDAU is to appear in person.  He will have a special retrospective conversation with longtime Festival contributor (& Hitchcock biographer) JOHN RUSSELL TAYLOR.  The restored film is reported to have an unprecedented depth of field & clarity.

  October 18 (Sunday):  “THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF” (a “Gala” presentation at 7 PM) is the story of 2 wayward teens (KRISTEN STEWART & EDDIE REDMAYNE) who pick up a hitchhiker (WILLIAM HURT), not realizing he’s just been released from prison…

  Described as “a timeless story of trust, forgiveness, and love”, it’s a USA film directed by UDAYAN PRASAD.  There will be some “SPECIAL GUESTS” involved with the film who will be attending this one-time-only screening, but just who they are has NOT been announced as yet…

  October 20 (Tues.):  A “super-secret SURPRISE film event” will be held at 8 PM (& it could be a new soon-to-be released American film, a treasured classic, a foreign film, etc.  You need to wear or carry some example of the Festival’s “APPAREL” (i.e., shirt, mug, water bottle, poster, hat, etc.) to attend, &, if you do, you get in to see this for FREE! (A clever ploy on the Festival’s part--  especially since they’ll gladly SELL you some of the apparel in question!)…

  October 21 (Wed.):  The “BEST OF THE FEST” (Award-Winning, Favorite & “Back By Popular Demand”) films will be shown starting at 5:45 PM;  you can find out exactly what will be shown & when by visiting on Monday the 19th for a listing of the 12 different presentations.

  October 22 (Thurs.):  The CLOSING NITE film (at 7 PM) is “THE YOUNG VICTORIA”, with EMILY BLUNT (of “THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA”) playing the title role of the long-serving Queen of England, with RUPERT FRIEND (of “PRIDE & PREJUDICE”) as the man who romances & marries her.  The film (directed by JEAN-MARC VALLEE) also stars PAUL BETTANY, JIM BROADBENT, THOMAS KRETSCHMANN, MIRANDA RICHARDSON & MARK STRONG.

                                       There is also a special RECEPTION with cocktails & hors d’oeuvres which runs from 9:30 to 11:30 PM.  The cost for the entire event (including the movie) is a flat $ 100 per person.  Normally for a Closing film, the Festival brings in some SPECIAL GUESTS who are involved with making the movie in question--  but they have not as yet stated just WHO might be there.

  SHORTS & ANIMATION films will be shown (in various categories) on October 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20.  You can pick up a free SCHEDULE of ALL the Festival films at the Festival Office or AMC booth during the hours previously listed (& the SHORTS & ANIMATION films are detailed on Page 39).  

  I have been attending a number of ADVANCE screenings of some of the Festival films, & will give you my “take” on them in the near future (hoping that it might prove of some “help” in deciding what you might want to see and / or avoid)!…

            So-- REST your eyes now, Folks, since they'll have a LOT to look at this month!...

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