The 57th Chicago International Film Festival, North America’s longest-running competitive film festival, today announced the winners of its 2021 competitions. In a virtual ceremony live-streamed via the Festival’s YouTube channel, the Festival awarded prizes in the following categories: International Feature Film Competition, New Directors Competition, International Documentary Competition, OutLook Competition, and Short Film Competitions, as well as the Chicago Award for an outstanding film in the City & State program.
The Gold Hugo in the International Competition went to MEMORIA, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s beguiling, beautiful film following a Scotswoman (Tilda Swinton) living in Bogotá haunted by a noise that only she seems to hear. Along with a young sound engineer, her search for the origin of the mysterious sound takes her to the interior of the lush Colombian jungle where past, present, and future blur.
Picking up the Silver Hugo Jury Prize is DRIVE MY CAR, Ryuske Hamaguchi’s sprawling yet intimate, playful, and elegant meditation on the beauty of human connection and the transformative power of the journey. Notably, Hamaguchi has two films in this year’s competitions; his WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY wins this year’s Silver Q-Hugo in the Festival’s OutLook Competition.
“This year, as audiences come back together after more than a year apart, it’s fitting that the Chicago International Film Festival jury has chosen to honor films that celebrate human connection,” said Chicago International Film Festival Artistic Director Mimi Plauché. “Gold Hugo winner MEMORIA will only be shown in theaters, on the big screen where audiences can experience it together. Our Silver Hugo winner, DRIVE MY CAR is about that core, necessary search for human connection. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our film community, here in Chicago, across the Midwest, and around the world.”
New Directors Competition Gold Hugo-winning film BROTHER’S KEEPER, telling the story of a day when a child feels all alone in the world even though he is surrounded by hundreds of people, continues the exploration of themes the 57th Jury was drawn to, while the International Documentary Competition Gold Hugo went to SKÁL, exploring a young couple’s sense of place and belonging.
This year’s Chicago Award, presented to the director of an outstanding film in the Festival’s City & State program, went to Margaret Byrne for her documentary ANY GIVEN DAY. Through an intimate and compassionate lens, the film observes three people as they participate in the Cook County mental health court probation program. Crafted with love, respect, bravery, and deep empathy, the film de-stigmatizes mental illness and contemplates a better way to support those in need of treatment. The Chicago Award is accompanied by a grant courtesy of Panavision for an in-kind contribution of a camera rental package valued at $30,000, and a grant from Light Iron for in-kind post-production services valued at $15,000.
A selection of award-winning films are available to screen through the end of the 57th Chicago International Film Festival, which closes at 11:59 p.m. Central time on Sunday, October 24, 2021.