Industry judges chose The Punk Show in Chicago as the winner of The Pitch at the Chicago International Film Festival’s 9th annual Industry Days! This fantastic comedy, written and directed by Erika Valenciana and produced by Anuradha Rana, with Christina Shaver as the executive producer, took the top spot in the year-long development program. The film tells the story of Alicia, a shy Chicana punk teen, and her spirited Filipina friend, Belen. Together, they embark on a wild journey to Chicago, hoping to catch their favorite band in action, meet a charming soul, and navigate a life-changing moment.
Our esteemed Pitch jury, consisting of Jenny Halper, EVP, Head of Creative at Maven Pictures, Ana Leocha, creative executive at Tango Entertainment, and Kiva Reardon, VP of film at PASTEL, had the challenging task of selecting the winning project. The Punk Show in Chicago’s triumph comes with an impressive awards package comprising in-kind goods and services valued at tens of thousands of dollars. Our generous contributors include Panavision, Light Iron, Periscope Post & Audio, Camera Ambassador, Ramo Law PC, PR Casting, and All Senses Go.
We also have chosen a fantastic lineup of five narrative feature film projects to look forward to in the coming year. These projects will be part of the CIX: Lab, a year-long development program that will culminate in The Pitch at Industry Days in 2024.
These filmmakers bring a diverse range of stories, showcasing the amazing and deep talent from the Chicago area. From a mind-bending psychedelic thriller set in the exurbs to a surreal tale of an 8th grader with no insides, to the stories of two Black women on the South side of Chicago, a queer musician’s return to her hometown, and a newly engaged couple navigating the twists and turns of their relationship, our next CIX: Lab truly highlights the multitude of voices in the emerging generation of filmmakers.
Past projects from the CIX: Lab and The Pitch have completed and released their features, including Jennifer Reeder’s Signature Move and Knives and Skin, Haroula Rose’s Once Upon a River, and Alex Heller’s The Year Between.
The Chicago Industry Exchange and its programs are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The selected projects for 2023-2024 CIX: Lab are:
Art of Alchemy
Writer/Director: Colin Parker
Producer: Dashawna Wright
An artist who moonlights as a criminal hides at a remote commune after her latest robbery results in the grisly death of a woman. As she attempts to process the experience, amidst an artistically-inclined lifestyle of the commune’s cult-like residents, and their leader The Alchemist, draws her in.
Writer/Director: Beth Ashby
Co-producer: Lindy Stokes
An eighth-grade boy who was born empty – literally – fights for the right to attend a classmate’s birthday party when his parents try to sell him to a collector of oddities, and discovers along the way that you can have heart without, well, having an actual heart.
The Caterpillar and the Butterfly
Writer/Director: Eliyannah Amirah Yisrael
Producer: Natasha Parker
The Caterpillar & The Butterfly explores the emotional journey between broken and whole through TaLisha King and Sharonda “Ronnie” Jones, two women who ride the same bus on Chicago’s South Side. When TaLisha’s boyfriend mysteriously vanishes, she swiftly falls into a state of despondency while the sudden reappearance of Ronnie’s absent father interrupts the rigid order she has created for herself.
I Can’t Sleep Here Tonight
Director: Linh Tran
Producer: Pete McClellan
Writer: Alex Gonzalez
A newly engaged couple moves into a NYC apartment that cleans itself of whatever is deemed unwanted. Everything is fine until one of them realizes that they no longer love the other person.
Lucy is a Loser
Writer/Director: Wendy Jo Carlton
Co-Producer: Daniel Kullman
Associate producer: Thomas Seffernick
Lucy Gatlin is a 36-year-old queer musician living in a friend’s garage after drinking herself out of a famous band, and must return to her hometown to see what her beloved Aunt left her in a will while facing old demons, avoiding ex-lovers, and trying to stay sober.