Cinema/Chicago News

51st Chicago International Film Festival Reveals Its Competition Winners At Awards Night

Published: October 24, 2015  |  Filed under: Festival News

Films From Around The World Competed for the Gold and Silver Hugo

Michael Kutza, Founder & Artistic Director of the Chicago International Film Festival, Programming Director Mimi Plauché, and Programmers Anthony Kaufman and Camille Lugan proudly announce the winners of the 51st Chicago International Film Festival Competitions.

Hosted by Managing Director Vivian Teng, the Awards Ceremony was held Friday, October 23 at 8:30pm and was hosted by The Peninsula (108 E. Superior, Chicago). Awards were presented in the following categories: International Feature Film Competition, New Directors Competition, Documentary Competition, Roger Ebert Award, Chicago Award, Q-Hugo, and Short Films. Award Nights was sponsored by Michigan Avenue Magazine and Wintrust Community Banks.

Past award winners have gone on to win Oscars® and Golden Globe® awards, among other notable recognitions. Awards Night is a night for the 51st Chicago International Film Festival juries, filmmakers and guests to come together and celebrate each other’s achievements.

Founders Award
The Founder’s Award is given to that one film across all categories that captures the spirit of the Chicago International Film Festival for its unique and innovative approach to the art of the moving image.

The 51st Chicago International Film Festival presented Director Michael Moore with the Founder’s Award for his film Where To Invade Next.

Founder’s Award:
Where To Invade Next
Country: US
Director: Michael Moore

The 51st Chicago International Film Festival presented Director Michael Moore with the Founder’s Award for his film Where To Invade Next. “Chicago is the Capitol of the Midwest and I just won the Founder’s Award here,” said Michael Moore.

International Film Competition
Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these works compete for the Festival’s highest honor, the Gold Hugo, a symbol of discovery.

Gold Hugo, Best Film:
A Childhood
Country: France
Director: Philippe Claudel

The winner of the 51st Chicago International film Festival’s International Competition for the Best Picture goes to A Childhood directed by Philippe Claudel for this emotionally powerful insight into dysfunctional family life in a working class French neighborhood, which relies on the strength of two half brothers, surviving pain and poverty.

Silver Hugo, Special Jury Prize:
Country: Argentina, Brazil
Director: Santiago Mitre

A beautifully realized film from Argentina which poses complex political questions that sidestep easy moralizing, causing us to stop and consider how far we would go to preserve our own sense of moral justice.

Silver Hugo, Best Director:
The Club
Country: Chile
Director: Pablo Larrain

For masterful direction of actors and assured handling of suspense which stares into the abyss of human depravity.

Silver Hugo, Best Male Actor:
Alexi Mathieu, Jules Gauzelin (A Childhood)
Country: France
Director: Philippe Claudel

The winner for Best Actor goes to the two child actors, Alexi Mathieu and Jules Gauzelin, in director Philippe Claudel’s A Childhood who as half brothers deliver amazingly believable first time performances revealing how children must play adults to survive their brutal upbringing.

Silver Hugo, Best Female Actor:
Lizzie Brochere (Full Contact)
Country: Netherlands, Croatia
Director: David Verbeek

Lizzie Brochere is a compelling talent with qualities of an innocent gamine and sultry seducer in her multi-faceted performance as a nightclub pole dancer in a Nevada military environment to a luggage-processing clerk in a French airport.

Silver Plaque, Best Ensemble:
The Club
Country: Chile
Director: Pablo Larrain

The Jury award for best actor ensemble awarded to The Club for this incredibly powerful assemblage of great Chilean actors.

Silver Plaque, Best Cinematography:
Frank Van den Eeden (Full Contact)
Country: Netherlands, Croatia
Director: David Verbeek

Directed by David Verbeek, Frank Vanden Eeden’s powerful imagery speaks to what great motion pictures strive for with expertly realized light, camera motion and framing.

Silver Plaque for Best Screenplay:
Writers Guillermo Calderon, Daniel Villalobos, Pablo Larrain (The Club)
Country: Chile
Director: Pablo Larrain

The winner for Best Screenplay goes to, The Club from Chile, written by Guillermo Calderon, Daniel Villalobos and director Pablo Larrain, for delivering a truly profound reality of revenge and compassion.

Silver Plaque for Best Art Direction:
Toma Baqueni (My Golden Days)
Country: France
Director: Arnaud Desplechin

Production designer, Toma Baqueni and his team reveal lushly realized worlds in director Arnaud Deapchelin’s film with a precise sense of style and realism covering periods of over 50 years from Russia, Eastern Europe, Tajikistan, and Paris.

New Directors Competition
This selection of first and second feature films receiving their U.S. premieres in Chicago celebrates the spirit of discovery and innovation upon which the Festival was founded.

Gold Hugo:
Underground Fragrance
Country: China
Director: Pengfei Song

The Gold Hugo goes to Underground Fragrance (China), director Pengfei Song’s illuminating ode to modern Chinese society. Two couples navigate through a world in transition, striving to locate stability within the rapidly evolving spaces. There’s a Chaplinesque physicality to the blinded man’s plight, dodging obstacles in his path while stumbling into a poignant romance worthy of “City Lights.”

Silver Hugo:
Country: Iceland
Director: Runar Runarsson

The Silver Hugo goes to Sparrows (Iceland), which explores arrested lives in a deceptively tranquil community. Ethereal imagery is juxtaposed with acts of shocking violence, creating an indelible portrait of lost innocence. Director Runar Runarsson elicits superb performances from his actors, who brought their fractured father-son dynamic to vivid life.

Roger Ebert Award: The Roger Ebert Award will be presented annually to an emerging filmmaker whose film presents a fresh and uncompromising vision. Films competing in the Festival’s New Directors Competition are eligible for this award.
Country: Iran
Director: Ida Panahandeh

The Roger Ebert Award goes to Nahid (Iran), where we follow a strong-willed woman as she attempts to escape the narrow confines of her societally imposed trap. Director Ida Panahandeh pulls no false punches in her portrayal of an uncompromisingly difficult character. To paraphrase Roger’s review of another acclaimed Iranian film, “A Separation,” she may be tending against our own sympathies, we understand why she does so and may be correct to do so.

Documentary Competition
This selection of international documentaries competing for the Gold Hugo go beyond the headlines in telling those true stories that surprise, entertain and challenge us.

Gold Hugo:
Volta à Terra
Country: Portugal, Switzerland
Director: João Pedro Plácido

For a film that interweaves aesthetic rigor with sensitive observation, agrarian portraiture with an investment in individual experience, that moved us by its intimacy with its subjects, an ambitious audio-visual presentation, and a dual sense of time-li-ness and time-less-ness, the Gold Hugo goes to Volta à Terra by João Pedro Plácido.

Silver Hugo:
In The Underground
Country: China
Director: Song Zhantao

For a film that is both intensely experiential and emotionally insightful, that manages to honor and explore both the underground terrain of labor and the aboveground human dramas of the domestic sphere, the Silver Hugo goes to In the Underground by Song Zhantao.

Gold Plaque Special Mention:
Time Suspended
Country: Mexico, Argentina
Director: Natalia Bruschtein

We’d like to make special mention of a film that combines archival with vérité footage to explore the tension between trauma and memory through the experience of a compelling individual who confronted political dictatorship and memory loss. The Jury’s Special Mention goes to Time Suspended (Tiempo Suspendido) by Natalia Bruschtein.

Q Hugo Award
Chosen from the Festival’s OUT-Look program, the winners of this award exhibit new artistic perspectives on sexuality and identity.

Gold Q Hugo:
Country: USA
Director: Todd Haynes

For its cinematic perfection.

Silver Q Hugo:
Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party
Country: USA
Director: Stephen Cone

For its beautifully acted, intelligently directed, richly nuanced approach to the troubled relations between religion and sexuality.

Short Film Awards

Gold Hugo, Live Action:
Country: Colombia, UK
Director: Simón Mesa Soto

Leidi is a reminder that great short films tell stories that are just the right size. A character study set in a broad urban landscape framed by mountains, this portrait of a day in the life of a teenage mother in Medellin, Colombia immerses the audience in its heroine’s concerns and yearnings. Simón Mesa Soto’s sensitive direction gives weight to the subtle and meaning to the unspoken.

Silver Hugo, Live Action:
The Exquisite Corpus
Country: Austria
Director: Peter Tscherkassky

With Exquisite Corpus, experimental filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky takes viewers on an odyssey into the dark subconscious of film. Orchestrating layers of footage from old nudist films, skin flicks, and pornographic cheapies, he has created what can only be described as a mesmerizing nightmare of erotic possibilities.

Gold Plaque, Live Action:
Country: South Korea
Director: Sébastien Simon and Forest Ian Estler

Forest Ian Etsler and Sébastien Simon’s playful and boldly original One-Mined frames the relationship between two young roommates in Seoul from a genuinely unique point-of-view: that of their oscillating fan, locked in a perpetual back-and-forth pan across their apartment.

Silver Plaque, Live Action:
Country: UK
Director: Jörn Threlfall

The aftermath of a death is presented in disconnected pieces in JörnThrelfall’s over, a film that puts a seemingly clinical style to humane ends, offering insight into our own short-sightedness in matters of genuine tragedy.

Silver Plaque, Live Action:
Country: Romania
Director: Andrei Cretulescu

Immediately riveting, Andrei Cretulescu’s Ramona presents an enigmatic, gruesome revenge spree in long, wordless takes—a drive through a nightscape of violence and mystery that is stark and tantalizing as the classic Bauhaus song that plays over its end credits.

Silver Hugo, Documentary:
Santa Cruz del Islote
Country: US, Colombia
Director: Luke Lorentzen

This film balances a quiet and hypnotic lull of the ocean with charming moments of everyday life on the island. The cinematography captures the beauty of the island poised between its present and future. Story development is engaging and the technical challenges of production illustrate the depth of talent the filmmakers possess. However the story isn’t overworked. There’s enough room to wander with it and enjoy the scenery while getting a sense of the underlying concern starting to developing the next generation.

Gold Plaque, Documentary:
A Tale of Love, Madness and Death
Country: Chile
Director: Mijael Bustos Gutiérrez

The filmmaker presents a strong character by approaching a very difficult subject matter with empathy and visual sensibility. His simple though compelling, balanced and innovative storytelling makes the film an important voice in understanding schizophrenia and showing its many facets.

Silver Hugo, Animated:
Sunday Lunch
Country: France
Director: Céline Devaux

For its dynamic animation and explosion of the humor and horror found in the mundane subtleties of family life, love, and comforting, predictable dysfunction.

Gold Plaque, Animated:
The Same River Twice
Country: USA
Director: Weijia Ma

… a family history in five succinct, interlocking acts told with beautiful subtlety, imaginative animation, and a distinctly charming personality.

Silver Plaque, Animated:
Waves ’98
Country: Lebanon, Qatar
Director: Ely Dagher

For its quiet bombast and nostalgia explored through a disarming blend of media, emotion, and fantasy.

Chicago Award

Chicago Plaque
Radical Grace
Country: USA
Director: Rebecca Parrish

Among the many worthy candidates of films made by Chicago- and Illinois-based filmmakers, the jury chose to recognize this unique film,which celebrates the bravery, devotion, and social engagement of the nuns on the bus. Radical Grace chronicles the individual stories of an extraordinary group of Catholic nuns and their collective movement to standup for values of equality and justice in the face of a hierarchy deeply resistant to change. The humanistic filmmaking of Radical Grace is both timely and timeless and reminds us of both the power of documentary cinema and the possibility that compassion and human dignity may prevail in our world.

One of the longest-running international competitions of its kind, INTERCOM honors a wide range of corporate-sponsored, educational and branded films.

Gold Hugo, Business – Communications
Patrick Frost
Company/Entrant: Seed Audio-Visual Communications

Silver Hugo, Sales & Marketing
Black Ink
Company/Entrant: Kemper Kommunikation GmbH

Gold Plaque, Public Relations
Porsche at Le Mans 2015
Company/Entrant: Kemper Kommunikation GmbH

Gold Plaque, Business – Communications
Argyle Pink Diamonds, Beyond Rare
Company/Entrant: Bengar Films

Silver Plaque, Business – Promotion
Soapbox Race 2015
Company/Entrant: Strange Loop Studios

Silver Plaque, Business – Communications
Australia Post, Privacy and You
Company/Entrant: Bengar Films

Silver Plaque, Educational – Youth Audience
Company/Entrant: Seed Audio-Visual Communications

Certificate of Merit, Sports & Recreation
Spa 2015
Company/Entrant: Kemper Kommunikation GmbH

Certificate of Merit, Science/Research/Technology
Antarctic Edge: 70 Degrees South
Company/Entrant: Rutgers Film Bureau

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