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.
A bracing examination of the U.S.’s longstanding racially and politically biased justice system, this powerful documentary bears witness to the lifelong efforts of Michael Africa, Jr. to secure the freedom of his parents, members of 1970s Black Liberation group MOVE, who were incarcerated for four decades.
By age 30, John Belusihi conquered Hollywood as one of the founding cast members of Saturday Night Live and the star of The Blues Brothers. But as his fame grew, so did his struggles with substance abuse, leading to an untimely demise that shocked fans around the world. Through previously unheard audiotapes featuring the voices of collaborators, friends, and family, this fitting tribute to a once-in-a-generation talent captures the complicated essence of an American icon.
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.
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.
The legendary German filmmaker and his volcanologist collaborator take viewers on a globe-trotting journey to discover the deep impact that meteorites—from the tiniest micrometeoroids to massive shooting stars—have had on our planet, both physical and psychic.
Through inspired re-enactments, archival clips, and interviews with famous fans, this poignant look at the life of improv impresario Del Close tracks the comedy trailblazer from “human torch” sideshow act to his influential rise at The Second City, where he mentored such greats as Bill Murray, John Candy, and Tina Fey.
An intimate and candid portrait of a savvy, indefatigable teen, this captivating documentary tracks climate activist Greta Thunberg for 13 momentous months from her initial school strike for climate justice outside the Swedish Parliament to her astonishing wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. A Hulu Original Documentary.
Kubrick by Kubrick Kubrick par Kubrick
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Personal, political, philosophical, and emotional, this collection of films showcases the very best in documentary form—from essayistic meditations to vérité assemblages and deeply-felt human portraits. Featuring works by Kanas Liu, Jamie Meltzer and Chris Filippone, Katarzyna Warzecha, Carmine Grimaldi, Erica Beebe, and Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner and Michael Stumpf.
Things We Dare Not Do Cosas que no hacemos
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.
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.