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Documentary Competition

From the topical and timeless to the political and provocative, these real-life stories bring you up-close and personal with the people and issues that define who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going. Documentary Competition titles, making their U.S. premieres in Chicago, compete for the Festival’s top nonfiction prize.

Kubrick by Kubrick Kubrick par Kubrick

Gregory Monro  |  France, Poland
English, French, Italian  

A trove of never-before-heard audio recordings forms the spine of this cinematic essay on the methods and madness of master director Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange, The Shining), teasing out some of the notoriously reclusive filmmaker’s inspirations—from Jungian philosophy to anti-authoritarian politics—while celebrating the mysteries inherent in his work.

Little Girl Petite Fille

Sébastien Lifshitz  |   France
Documentary, Family Affairs, LGBTQ, Sex and Sexuality

In this beautifully crafted gem of a film about the joys and pain of living your truth, seven-year-old Sasha works to realize her lifelong dream of being accepted as a girl by her peers, by her parents and by her extended family.

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.


Sam Pollard  |   United States
Biopic, Documentary, Historical, Literary Adaptation, Political, Social Commentary
It should come as no surprise that the FBI mounted a relentless campaign of surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but this astonishing documentary reveals both the shocking details of the operation and the complexity of the iconic man in its crosshairs. Using newly declassified files, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Pollard (Chicago International [...]

The Prophet and the Space Aliens

Yoav Shamir  |  Israel, Austria
Documentary, Religion
English, French, Japanese, Jula  

Founded in the 1970s by Frenchman Claude Vorilhon, the International Raëlian Movement is a quasi-religious cult built on the idea that aliens created the human race. In this funny and fascinating documentary, director Yoav Shamir (Checkpoint) chronicles the order’s colorful way of life, examining the complexities of belief and devotion in ways both unexpected and enlightening.

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.

Things We Dare Not Do Cosas que no hacemos

Bruno Santamaria  |   Mexico
Documentary, LGBTQ, Sex and Sexuality

In the small town of El Roblito, 16-year-old Ñoño has a secret that runs counter to the local culture defined by machismo; he loves to dress in women’s clothes. This gorgeously photographed snapshot of rural Mexico tells the exquisite story of an individual who bravely defies the gender norms of their society.

‘Til Kingdom Come

Maya Zinshtein  |  Israel, UK, Norway
Documentary, Political, Religion
Arabic, English, Hebrew  

This riveting exposé investigates the unlikely connection between Jews and evangelical Christians in the U.S. and Israel, uncovering a shocking alliance rooted in apocalyptic prophecy and driven in unprecedented ways by Donald Trump’s White House.


Meritxell Colell & Lucia Vassallo  |  Spain, Argentina
A years-long correspondence between two filmmakers, this poetic, intimate work finds two friends separated by geography yet bound by their strong emotional connection and the art of the moving image. Meritxell Colell (Facing the Wind), who lives in Barcelona, and Buenos Aires-based Lucía Vassallo (Línea 137), share moments from their lives both beautiful and banal [...]

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