'Miss Julie' Set to Kickoff the Chicago International Film Festival

Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

The oldest competitive film festival is set to run from October 9 to 23

The Chicago International Film Festival will kick-off its celebratory 50th year with its opening-night film Miss Julie, directed by Liv Ullman. The red carpet-event will be held Oct. 9 at the Harris Theater in downtown Chicago.

Academy Award nominated writer-director Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King) will introduce his latest film, The Last 5 Years as the Centerpiece for the festival (October 9 – 23). Starring Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick and Tony Award nominee Jeremy Jordan, The Last 5 Years will screen October 15.

 “With Miss Julie, Liv Ullmann gives new life to a classic. It’s a highly-charged, very erotic movie full of powerhouse performances,” festival founder/artistic director Michael Kutza said.

Michael Caplan explores the life of Chicago author Nelson Algren in the World Premiere documentary, Algren. featuring images by Chicago street photographer Art Shay, as well as interviews with Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins and award-winning Chicago filmmaker William Friedkin. Chicago-based filmmaker Stephen Cone will present the World Premiere of his independent film, This Afternoon. Director Marie Ullrich returns to the festival for the World Premiere of her feature debut, The Alley Cat, born from her short Faster!, which was featured in the 2010 festival’s program.

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The oldest competitive film festival in the United States, the fest was founded by Michael Kutza in 1964. “From the very beginning, I wanted the festival to be competitive in every way, drawing attention to emerging talent and rewarding excellence, Kutza said.   

This year’s Competition lineup runs the gamut from political and family drama to offbeat dark comedies, according to festival programming director Mimi Plauche.  

The International Feature Competition includes:1001 Grams,Norway (Director: Bent Hamer); Black Coal, Thin Ice, China/ Hong Kong (Director: Diao Yinan);  The Fool, Russia (Director: Yury Bykov); Force Majeure Sweden/Denmark/France/Norway (Director: Ruben Östlund); Free Fall, Hungary Director (György Pálfi); Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, Israel/France/Germany (Directors: Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz); Human Capital, Italy(Director: Paolo Virzì); The President, Georgia/France/UK/Germany (Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf).

Other Competition films include: Red Rose, Iran/FranceGreece (Director: Sepideh Farsi); Refugiado, Argentina/Colombia/France/Poland/Germany (Director: Diego Lerman); The Owners, Kazakhstan (Director: Adilkhan Yerzhanov);  Rudderless, USA (Director: William H. Macy); Sand Dollars, Dominican Republic/Argentina/Mexico (Directors: Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas); Speed Walking, Denmark (Director: Niels Arden Oplev); Timbuktu, Mauritania/France (Director: Abderrahmane Sissako).

The festival also recognizes top international documentaries in its Docufest section; this year’s Docufest is comprised of 18 non-fiction features from around the world. Eight of these films are in competition—all of which are without U.S. distribution. Seven are making their U.S. or North American Premieres at the festival. Films in Competition include: Algren, El Gort, Echo of the Mountain, Hotel Nueva Isla, Into the Clouds We Gave, The Iron Ministry, I’ve Seen the Unicorn, and Vive La France. Docufest and Short Film Competitions. 

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The festival will celebrate its semi-centennial with special presentations of past Festival winners, audience favorites and cinema classics. More than 20 films have been selected as part of this retrospective, including three films which received their World Premiere at past Festivals: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Idolmaker and “White Nights. Several longtime festival friends will present special editions of their favorite films, including Oliver Stone, Taylor Hackford, and Michael Moore

In the spirit of film critic Roger Ebert’s sense of discovery, the 50th Chicago International Film Festival introduces the Roger Ebert Award. The award will be presented annually to emerging filmmakers with a fresh and uncompromising vision.