Chicago fest kicks off with 'Motherhood'

Founder wants to take city's mind off Olympics bid loss

CHICAGO -- Chicago International Film Festival founder Michael Kutza wants his event to take the city's mind off last week's loss of the 2016 Summer Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.

The 45th edition of the Windy City festival kicks off Thursday with Katherine Dieckmann's high-energy comedy "Motherhood," starring Uma Thurman, Anthony Edwards and Minnie Driver.

Kutza is hoping Dieckmann's film, as well as Lars von Trier's "Antichrist," Russian director Valery Todorovsky's "Hipsters," Lee Daniels' "Precious," Ken Loach's "Looking for Eric" and local favorite Brian Caunter's "Chicago Overcoat," fill seats and garner attention.

"We've searched out first- and second-time filmmakers for the past 45 years," Kutza said. "We're always looking for that brand-new director."

Kutza is keen on Todorovsky's musical "Hipsters," which travels to 1955 Soviet Russia to glimpse young Russians getting a taste of American hype and greed. He wants it to be this year's "Slumdog Millionaire." He also points to Romania's Corneliu Porumboiu-directed "Police, Adjective," which carried home trophies from Cannes, along with John Woo's "Red Cliff" and Daniels' "Precious" as the top films he has secured.

The founder started the event in the mid-'60s -- making it one of the oldest ongoing U.S. fests -- with "Who's That Knocking at My Door," which helped launch the career of Martin Scorsese. The CIFF has since brought new films from Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Quentin Tarantino and Andy Davis, among others. Kutza also championed "Slumdog" last year, and the CIFF had a U.S. premiere of Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" this summer.

This year, all 112 films will unspool at one of the Loews Complex downtown theaters, which Kutza said is something the audience wants.

Kutza also responded to criticism from Sony Pictures Classics co-partner Tom Bernard that the fest was not that aggressive in soliciting films from that company for inclusion.

"Chicago wasn't banging on our door a lot," Bernard told the Chicago Tribune.

Fest coordinator Mimi Plauche said she discussed taking several SPC titles, including "Broken Embraces," which is closing the New York Film Festival, but the logistics didn't work out.