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City & State

This stellar collection of films—competing for the Festival’s Chicago Award—showcase the year’s best stories and brightest talents from our own backyard

City So Real

Steve James  |   United States
Documentary, Political, Social Commentary
English, Punjabi, Spanish  

This epic docuseries from Hoop Dreams director Steve James captures Chicago at a crossroads, still reeling from the shooting of Laquan McDonald and in the midst of the contentious 2019 mayoral election. From protests to penthouses, James chronicles the divisions that separate and the issues that unite our city.

“The Ephemeral Orphanage” [Short Film]

Lisa Barcy  |  United States

A group of tattered paper dolls daydream alternate realities and explore the hidden lives of their caregivers.

Finding Yingying

Jiayan "Jenny" Shi  |   United States
Documentary, Mystery, Political, Social Commentary
English, Mandarin  

In 2017, Chinese student Yingying Zhang went missing just weeks after arriving at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Filmmaker Jiayan “Jenny” Shi investigates the mystery surrounding Yingying’s disappearance and its devastating impact on her family and her community.

“Grizzlies” [Short Film]

Alex Heller  |  United States

A hilariously overprotective mother does her best to defend her daughter.

Mama Gloria

Luchina Fisher  |   United States
Biopic, Documentary, LGBTQ, Sex and Sexuality, Social Commentary

Meet Mama Gloria. Chicago’s Black transgender icon Gloria Allen emerged from the South Side’s drag ball culture in the 1960s to trailblaze a path for transgender youth to follow. With positivity and polish, she overcame prejudice and traumatic violence to become a proud leader in her community.

“A Mystery to Me” [Short Film]

Ben Strang  |  United States

An inspiring portrait of a woman named Vanetta and her determined battle against a rare neuromuscular disease.

“Patois” [Short Film]

Andre Muir, Danielle Alston  |  United States

A tender character study of a young Jamaican girl desperate to fit in.

“Pegasus” [Short Film]

Orlando Leroi  |  United States

A brutal interaction with the Chicago police finds a young black father searching for freedom beyond the limits of the atmosphere.

“The Reversal” [Short Film]

Jennifer Boles  |  United States
No Dialogue  

The Reversal arranges and animates thousands of stunning glass-plate photographs to ponder the reversal and transformation of the Chicago River.

The Road Up

Greg Jacobs & Jon Siskel  |   United States
Documentary, Drama
Drive-in SOLD OUT

From the award-winning team behind the Chicago International Film Festival hit documentary Louder than a Bomb comes this inspiring and emotional film following Jesse Teverbaugh, a charismatic leader at the job-training program Cara, as he mentors four Chicagoans during their precarious journey from homelessness, addiction, and incarceration to stable employment.

“Sacred Brick Technology” [Short Film]

Ian Bertorelli  |  United States

An incisive contemplation over the history and legacy of brickwork in Chicago.

Shorts 1: What We’re Made Of (City and State)

Various  |   United States
English, No Dialogue  

These innovative shorts showcase the very best in Chicago and Illinois filmmaking across a wide variety of genres and forms. Featuring works by Andre Muir and Danielle Alston, Jennifer Boles, Hannah Welever, Orlando Leroi, Lisa Barcy, Ian Bertorelli, Alex Heller, and Ben Strang.

“Swipe Up, Vivian!” [Short Film]

Hannah Welever  |  United States

A futuristic dating app becomes a lifeline for an agoraphobic woman.