Saturday, September 24, 2011

Coming Soon: Chicago Film Festival

New York. Toronto. Venice. Sundance. Cannes.  Move over! 

This year's 47th Chicago International Film Festival promises to be one of the most exciting two weeks of film exhibition the city..and the world...will see this year.

I just spent the last two hours browsing the awesome Festival web site, and marveling at this year's offerings. Founder and Artistic Director Michael Kutza deserves high praise for arranging a world-class "orgy for movie-lovers" (to quote Pauline Kael in her review of Robert Altman's "Nashville").

In the weeks leading up to and during the festival (October 6-20) I will offer reflections on upcoming films, a few reviews (I hope!), and a look back at the Festival's remarkable history.

I am so excited to share this with all of you...especially if you are not yet familiar with this event.

Movie lovers from Chicago recognize the evocative logo seen scrolling above, a pastiche of the eyes of silent film stars Theda Bara, Pola Negri and Mae Murray.  Both Charlie Chaplin and Liza Minnelli each believed that this logo had been made from their own cinematic likenesses!

Did you know that the Chicago Film Festival, now in its 47th year, is America's oldest competitive Film Festival?  Here's a snippet from the web page that relates the History of the Festival:

The Festival was started in 1964 by filmmaker and graphic artist Michael Kutza to provide an alternative to the commercial Hollywood movies that dominated the city’s theaters. The Festival opened in 1965 at the Carnegie Theater, where King Vidor, Bette Davis, and Stanley Kramer were honored for their contributions to American cinema. Since then, the Festival has grown to become a world-renowned annual event. The Festival is dedicated to fostering better understanding between cultures and to making a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image.

THIS YEAR'S HIGHLIGHTS include appearances by Director Simon Curtis and Screenwriter Adrian Hodges (after a screening of their film "My Week With Marilyn" with Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh); conversations with actor John C. Reilly and superstar Cinematographer Haskell Wexler;

AND THE MOVIES!! from countries like Norway and Cuba, Argentina and Hong Kong, Sweden and Japan...just for STARTERS...and more.

Check 'em out!!

Some of the Special Screenings of the Fest include David Cronenberg's Freud-Jung Melodrama "A Dangerous Method"; Ralph Fiennes' "Coriolanus";  a Documentary about French Director Claude Lelouch ("A Man and a Woman") and his latest, his 43rd film "What Love May Bring"; the new Italian comedy "Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope)"  Tilda Swinton in the film version of Lionel Shriver's award-winning novel "We Need to Talk About Kevin";  Anton Yelchin in the romantic Drama "Like Crazy"; Lars von Trier's intriguing "Melancholia", with Kirstin Dunst in her Cannes-Award-winning role; "Martha Marcy May Marlene", the story of a girl who escapes a cult  lead by John Hawkes; Werner Herzog's Documentary about death-row inmate Michael Perry "Into the Abyss"; and the highly anticipated valentine to silent cinema, France's "The Artist".

Stay tuned!

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