Chicago Festival continues its 15-year relationship with Cuba
Fifteen years ago, with support from the State of Illinois, the Chicago International Film Festival brought 6 Cuban directors to Chicago. In addition, a Cuban poster and photography exhibition was held at the State of Illinois building (now known as the Thompson Center) during the run of the 36th Chicago International Film Festival (Oct 6-21, 2000).
In 2000, in partnership with the State of Illinois, Cinema/Chicago hosted a delegation from the Cuban film industry and featured a special “Cuban Cinema Today!” program at the 36th Chicago International Film Festival. Seven Cuban films were screened, including three by the country’s premiere filmmaker, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea: The Last Supper, Guantanamera, and Strawberry and Chocolate (the first Cuban film to be nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar). Gutiérrez Alea, his co-collaborator Juan Carlos Tabío, Gerardo Chijona, Fernando Pérez, Humberto Solás, and Arturo Sotto attended the Festival with their films.
Fifteen years later, Chicago International Film Festival Founder and Artistic Director Michael Kutza, Programming Director Mimi Plauché, and members of Cinema/Chicago’s Board of Directors traveled to Havana, Cuba for the 37th Havana Film Festival (aka The International Festival of the New Latin American Film in Havana). While at the Havana festival, Kutza, Plauché, and the Board connected with local Cuban artists and directors as well as Chicago Fest alumni filmmakers and fellow Chicagoans. Between films in Havana, Plauché also met with filmmakers, actors, and producers, strengthening relationships with important Latin American industry leaders and long-time Festival friends.
Founder and Artistic Director Michael Kutza proudly served on the Feature Film Jury from Dec 3 – 13, 2015. During that time, the Feature Film Jury saw nearly 50 films, including 27 features and numerous shorts! Fortunately, Kutza was in good company. Award-winning British actress and Charlie Chapin’s daughter Geraldine Chaplin who received a Silver Hugo for Best Actress in Sand Dollars (2014) headed the jury. Chaplin and Kutza were joined by acclaimed French director Laurent Cantet who received the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for The Class (2008); Argentinean director Diego Lerman whose feature film Tan de repente (2002) won multiple awards at the Locarno International Film Festival; and Cuban filmmaker Manuel Pérez (Páginas del diario de Mauricio, 2006).