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57th Chicago International Film Festival Announces Full Schedule; Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch to Open

This morning the hard working folks behind the 57th Chicago International Film Festival unveiled their full line-up, complete with nearly 90 feature films and four world premieres. From October 13-24, the festival will bring some of the year’s most anticipated films to the Windy City, starting with Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” which will be shown on Opening Night. The closing night movie will be Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “King Richard,” which features a performance Will Smith that was acclaimed after its world premiere earlier this month at the Telluride Film Festival. 

Other exciting titles include Todd Haynes’ acclaimed documentary “The Velvet Underground,” Mike Mills’ “C’mon C’mon” (which our Tomris Laffly loved out of Telluride), the Chicago premiere of “Dune,” Pablo Larraín’s Princess Diana portrait “Spencer,” and Ridley Scott’s historical epic “The Last Duel,” starring Matt Damon, Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck, and which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. As part of the festival tradition of honoring acclaimed filmmakers, this year’s honorees include Kenneth Branagh (with his new film, “Belfast”) and Rebecca Hall (who will present her film “Passing”). 

The festival will also host four world premieres: “Boys State” co-director Jesse Moss’ “Mayor Pete,” about Pete Buttigieg’s presidential candidacy; Joe Winston’s “Punch 9 for Harold Washington,” Rebecca Halpern’s “Love, Charle: The Rise and Fall of Charlie Trotter,” and Holly Morris’ “Exposure.” 

Looking at the line-up we spot other favorites we've had the chance to see and recommend you also consider: the Addams family's "Hellbender" is a must-see playing during this festival's Midnight section; "The Gravedigger's Wife" and "Lingui: The Sacred Bonds" both received heavy praise from our Marya E. Gates. 

In a non-programming note, it’s exciting to see the festival return to its multiple venue format while simultaneously embracing virtual streaming format. Chicago-based cinephiles will be able to experience the fest at AMC River East 21, the Music Box Theatre, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the ChiTown Movies drive-in in Pilsen, along with pop-up screenings at Bronzeville’s historic Parkway Ballroom. For viewers attending virtually from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin, nearly 50 titles will be made available for ticketed online screenings. 

Below is the festival's press release in full. For more information about the festival, click here.

"Mayor Pete"

CHICAGO, Illinois -- The Chicago International Film Festival announced today the full lineup of its 57th edition, running October 13 - 24, 2021. This year’s Festival expands across the City, with screenings at AMC River East 21, Music Box Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center, drive-in screenings at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen, and neighborhood pop-up screenings at Bronzeville’s historic Parkway Ballroom. The program includes nearly 90 feature films and 70 shorts, four World Premieres, one International Premiere, 17 North American Premieres, and 17 U.S. Premieres, and showcases cinema from countries including France, Turkey, Colombia, Sweden, Japan, Canada, India, Chile, and Egypt, representing every continent – including the Antarctic. Nearly 50 titles will also be available virtually for in-home screenings via the Festival’s streaming platform to audiences throughout Illinois and six other states, including Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

The 57th Chicago International Film Festival opens at the Music Box Theatre with Wes Anderson’s THE FRENCH DISPATCH, a love letter to journalists featuring an all-star cast, and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, the Opening Night at the Drive-In presentation at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen, with a special virtual Q&A with director Todd Haynes. The Closing Night film is KING RICHARD, the inspirational journey of Richard Williams (Will Smith), an undeterred father raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time -- Venus and Serena Williams. The Centerpiece Film is C’MON C’MON, a powerfully resonant and hopeful portrait of our times starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Mike Mills. The Festival will also host the Chicago premieres of Denis Villeneuve’s hotly anticipated DUNEPablo Larrain’s portrait of Princess DianaSPENCER, starring Kristen Stewart; and visionary director Ridley Scott’s THE LAST DUEL, a gripping tale of betrayal and vengeance set against the brutality of 14th century France. The full schedule is available in the digital Festival Program.

World Premieres
The 57th Chicago International Film Festival presents the World Premieres of four films including MAYOR PETEJesse Moss’ behind the scenes look at the campaign of the first openly LGBTQ presidential candidate; Joe Winston’s PUNCH 9 FOR HAROLD WASHINGTON, telling the story of Chicago’s first Black mayor; Chicagoan Holly Morris’ EXPOSURE, following 11 women from across Arab and Western countries on a trek to the North Pole; and LOVE, CHARLIE: THE RISE AND FALL OF CHEF CHARLIE TROTTERRebecca Halpern’s absorbing, unvarnished portrait of chef Charlie Trotter. The Festival will host the International Premiere of THE LAST EXECUTION, a white-knuckle political thriller based on the true story of Werner Teske from director Franziska Stünkel. This year’s program sees the North American Premieres of 17 features, and another 17 films will hold their U.S. Premieres.

Honors and Tributes
The Chicago International Film Festival has a proud tradition of honoring the year’s most acclaimed filmmakers and actors. The 57th edition adds to the Festival’s rich tapestry of past honorees, bestowing a tribute and Lifetime Achievement Award to Academy Award©-nominated Sir Kenneth Branagh at a Special Presentation of his humorous, tender, and deeply personal BELFAST; and honoring actor-turned-director Rebecca Hall with an Artistic Achievement Award at a Special Presentation of her new film, PASSING, the story of two childhood friends whose reunion threatens their carefully constructed realities.

Local Stories In the Spotlight
Showcasing the best and the brightest local productions, the 57th Chicago International Film Festival’s City & State program includes six features and eight short films. Headlined by the World Premieres of PUNCH 9 FOR HAROLD WASHINGTON and LOVE, CHARLIE: THE RISE AND FALL OF CHEF CHARLIE TROTTER, feature films include Isidore Bethel and Francis Leplay’s exploration of gay hookup culture ACTS OF LOVEMargaret Byrne’s ANY GIVEN DAY, following a trio of participants in a probation program established for people with mental illnesses; documentary mavens Gordon Quinn and Leslie Simmer’s FOR THE LEFT HAND; and BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION, a throwback thriller brilliantly channeling 70’s paranoid cinema from director Jacob Gentry.

25th Anniversary of Black Perspectives
Founded in collaboration with Spike Lee to showcase the excellence and diversity of films by African Americans and the African diaspora from around the world, this year’s Black Perspectives program, celebrating its 25th anniversary, showcases nine feature films and six shorts, including the Closing Night film, KING RICHARD and a Special Presentation of PASSING. Other features include Jaymes Samuel’s action-packed revenge Western THE HARDER THEY FALLMahmet-Saleh Haroun’s raw, honest celebration of the power of women working in solidarity LINGUI, THE SACRED BONDSCITIZEN ASHE, a profile of groundbreaking tennis star and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe from co-directors Sam Pollard and Rex Miller; and Francesco Zippel’s OSCAR MICHEAUX - THE SUPERHERO OF BLACK FILMMAKING; as well as the World Premiere of PUNCH 9 FOR HAROLD WASHINGTON and the U.S. Premieres of THE LAST SHELTER from Ousmane Samassekou and Khadar Ahmed’s THE GRAVEDIGGER’S WIFE.

In its 25-year history, the Black Perspectives program has premiered the first film by acclaimed director Ava Duvernay, and has featured the work of luminaries including Lee DanielsGeorge TillmanMaya AngelouSteve McQueen, and Ousmane Sembene, and has given tributes to film artists, including Viola Davis, Forest Whitaker, and Sidney Poitier.

International Competitions
The Chicago International Film Festival is the longest running competitive festival in North America, and in its 57th year, the tradition of introducing U.S. audiences to bold and accomplished new films from around the world continues with a slate of titles representative of their countries’ styles, stories, and cultures. Films vie for the Gold Hugo in the following categories: International Feature, New Directors, International Documentary, Short Film, and OutLook (LGBTQ+) Competitions.

Drive-In Screenings
Building on the success of last year’s Drive-In Screenings program, the 57th Chicago International Film Festival will present titles at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen, including a special Opening Night at the Drive-In event on Wednesday, October 13, featuring documentary THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, with a virtual Q&A with director Todd Haynes. Other Drive-In screenings include THE HARDER THEY FALLMichael Pearce’s thriller ENCOUNTER, starring Oscar-nominated actors Riz Ahmed and Octavia Spencer; and a late-night presentation of indie coming-of-age occult horror hit HELLBENDER

Virtual Screenings and Programs
The Chicago International Film Festival proudly offers nearly 50 titles virtually to audiences across Illinois, and throughout six other Midwestern states including Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin, via the Festival’s online streaming platform and Festival apps for Roku and Apple TV. Virtual screenings are ticketed, and streaming movies will be viewable in the comfort of one’s home beginning Thursday, October 14 at noon CT through Sunday, October 24, 2021.

Festival Passes are on sale now, with individual tickets going on sale September 21 for Cinema/Chicago members and September 24 to the general public. Passes can be purchased at

About the Chicago International Film Festival
Celebrating its 57th edition October 13 - 24, 2021, the Chicago International Film Festival is North America's longest-running competitive international film festival. Showcasing the best in international and independent films from around the world, the 57th edition will be held in person and virtually. From dramas and thrillers to documentaries and comedies, the Festival presents a vast diversity of offerings, featuring competitive categories and programs including the 25th anniversary of Black Perspectives; Cinemas of the Americas; International Comedy; Women in Cinema; OutLook; After Dark; and the City & State program, showcasing films made in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

Festival Sponsors and Partners
The 57th Chicago International Film Festival's sponsors include Major Festival Sponsors: Goldman Sachs, Xfinity; Festival Sponsors: Baker Tilly, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, ComEd, Dark Matter Coffee, Goose Island, Hamilton Watch, Heineken 0.0, Panavision, Light Iron, SAGindie, The Seeker, William Blair; Official Agency: Ogilvy; Official Publicity Agency: Acacia Consulting Group; Festival Supporters: Chicago Film Office, Consulate General of Canada; Canada Now, Consulate General of Italy, Italian Cultural Institute, Goethe-Institut, Gene Siskel Film Center, Camera Ambassador, Cinelease, and HI Chicago; Media Partners: CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, WBBM, WTTW, Make It Better Media Group. This program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. With additional support from John and Jacolyn Bucksbaum Family Foundation, Paul and Ellen Gignilliat, and Susan B. Noyes.

For more information about the Chicago International Film Festival, click here.

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