2015 Sneak Peek

Because Everybody Loves Movies!

For over half a century, the Chicago International Film Festival has brought you thousands of groundbreaking, highly acclaimed and thought-provoking films from around the globe.

This year, our mission remains the same: to bring Chicago the unique opportunity to see world-class cinema, from new discoveries to international prizewinners, and hear directly from the talented people who’ve brought them to us. This year is no different, with filmmakers from China to Mexico and Hollywood to our backyard joining us for what is Chicago’s most thrilling movie event of the year. Here is just a small sampling of this year’s Festival.

To all of our guests — past, present and future — we thank you for your continued support, excitement, and most importantly, your love for movies! Come see what we have discovered for you.

Michael Kutza, Founder & Artistic Director

>>> Festival Passes Now On Sale! Click here to buy. <<<

Director: Andrew Haigh • UK
Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling deliver award-winning performances in this engrossing marital drama. A couple celebrating their 45th anniversary receive a jolt when they learn that the corpse of a woman from the husband’s past has been discovered in a melting glacier, and he’s listed as her next-of-kin.


Director: John Crowley • Ireland, UK, Canada
Brooklyn tells the moving story of Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland for the shores of New York, where she finds love. But unexpected developments force her to choose between her family’s home and her adopted land.

Director: Todd Haynes • US

In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, Carol follows two women (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul • Thailand
Thai surrealist master and School of the Art Institute of Chicago alum Apichatpong Weerasethakul astounds with a deeply spiritual drama about a group of soldiers who catch a strange coma after disturbing ancient royal graves. While a hospital volunteer nurses the ill, spirits lull us into a captivating cinematic dreamscape.

Director: Charlie Vundla • South Africa
In this wry, intimate drama, a young American professor in Johannesburg falls apart after his gorgeous wife leaves him for another man. His old school chum, now a homeless life coach, props him back up. But when his wife reappears at his doorstep, she sparks a gripping chain of deception.

Director: Jacques Audiard • France
Winner of the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Jacques Audiard’s explosive immigrant drama depicts a Sri Lankan rebel fighter who attempts a better life in Paris under a dead man’s identity. Real-life novelist and former child soldier Antonythasan Jesuthasan gives a breakout lead performance.

Director: Peter Greenaway • Netherlands, Mexico, Finland, Belgium
This radical, stylistically brilliant biopic chronicles Soviet revolutionary filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s 1931 sojourn to Mexico, where, in Peter Greenaway’s imaginative retelling, he lost his virginity to his male guide. A trip for cinephiles, the film adapts Eisenstein’s own feverish editing rhythms and features a giddy performance by Elmer Bäck as Eisenstein.

Director: Kevin Pang and Mark Helenowski • US
After cooking his way through Chicago’s top kitchens, renowned Chef Curtis Duffy begins plans for his dream establishment, Grace. A delicious look at what it takes to build one of the world’s greatest restaurants, and the complex story of a man forging a new future out of his traumatic past.

Director: Kent Jones • France, US
In 1962, Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut conducted a weeklong conversation about the craft of Hitchcock’s movies, and of cinema itself. The result: the seminal book Hitchcock/Truffaut. This brilliant behind-the-scenes account of their conversation—along with memorable clips from Hitch’s works—is an inspiring and illuminating look inside the mind of a master craftsman.

Director: Björn Hlynur Haraldsson • Iceland
Self-help author Gunnar’s humdrum routine is shaken when he realizes his son’s new fiancée may be a bit closer to him than they think. He must choose between keeping his secret or protecting his son. A dark, unpredictable “family” comedy ensues, as everyone scrambles to recover their grip on the truth.

Director: Adam Salky • US

Sarah Silverman torches her own comic image to play a suburban housewife and mother plagued by severe substance abuse and psychological illness. Adam Salky’s harrowing second feature electrified this year’s Sundance Film Festival crowds with its unblinking plunge into the nature of addiction.

Directors: Ila Bêka, Louise Lemoine • France, Denmark
Copenhagen’s “8 House,” an ultramodern loop of apartments by architect Bjarke Ingels, reinvents the concept of “home.” Its 500 residents traverse all nine floors by bike and hike on its lush green roofs. This exuberant documentary profiles the (mostly) happy residents, offering a hopeful, inspired picture of communal living by design.

Director: Josh Mond • US
An emotionally unstable young man, processing the recent death of his long-absent father, must care for the terminally ill mother who raised him. This raw, affecting drama features a revelatory lead performance from Christopher Abbott (Girls), with Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City) as his ailing mother.

Director: Nanni Moretti • Italy
John Turturro provides madcap comic relief as a self-important American actor in master filmmaker Nanni Moretti’s latest autobiographical work. A director tries to complete her movie while caring for her much-beloved hospital-bound mother. Real life and art clash violently in this moving personal drama about the heavy cost of artistic integrity.

Director: Guilherme Coelho • Brazil
In this sensual, mythical tale of obsession, a man returns to his hometown by the Amazon, where he resumes a dangerous old affair and begins another one with a woman who seems to emerge and disappear from the river itself. An immersive film that plunges into Oedipal desires and Brazilian legends.

Director: Fernando León de Aranoa • Spain
Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins join a motley crew of aid workers bumbling through the Balkan War in this M*A*S*H*-like black comedy about struggling to do good in bad places.  A sense of humor helps when pulling a corpse out of a well.

Director: Arthur Berthelet • US
Lost for nearly a century, this silent-era screen incarnation of the classic character (one of the first) miraculously reappeared last year in a French cinema archive. Filmed at Chicago’s own Essanay Studios and starring William Gillette, one of the most famous Sherlocks of the time, the film is a once-in-a-lifetime treat.

Director: Naomi Kawase • Japan
Sweet red bean paste is the filling in this poignant tale of life, compassion, and delicious desserts. An uninspired pastry chef is brought to life when a plucky septuagenarian’s irresistible homemade recipe turns his red bean pancakes into a local hit. The latest from highly regarded Japanese auteur Naomi Kawase is a tasty philosophical dish.

Director: Rob Hatch-Miller • US
Velvet-voiced soul singer Syl Johnson struggled for decades before leaving the biz in the 1980s to open a Chicago fried-fish chain. Since then, he’s become one of the most-sampled artists in hip-hop. With a lively soundtrack, this buoyant world premiere documentary celebrates one man who can’t stop the music.

Director: Perry Blackshear • US
After receiving an ominous phone call, a young man crashing his friend’s flat becomes convinced mysterious creatures are inhabiting the bodies of everyone around him. This tension-filled horror indie will leave you on high alert, taking a good look at your co-worker, your neighbor… and even your best friend.

Director: Celso R. García • Mexico
This hilarious Guillermo del Toro-produced buddy movie follows five men tasked with painting the median line on a lonely rural road. Good-natured male bonding blends with gorgeous landscape cinematography in this thoughtful portrayal of a day’s honest work in modern Mexico.

Director: Paolo Sorrentino • Italy, France, Switzerland, UK
Fred (Michael Caine), an acclaimed composer, vacations in the Swiss Alps with his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and best friend Mick (Harvey Keitel), a renowned filmmaker. While Mick finishes the screenplay for his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. The men find that the most important experiences can come later in life.

Highlights from this year’s program include: Feminist erotic filmmaker ERIKA LUST (left) shows off her explicit works and discusses sex from the female perspective. In the animated WAVES ’98 (right), a Beirut drifter stumbles into a multicolored, imaginary world.


Prolific film executive Gigi Pritzker headlines Industry Days, the Festival’s new hub for filmmakers and industry professionals. Producer of such noted films as Jon Stewart’s Rosewater and the Ryan Gosling thriller Drive, Pritzker will be celebrated with an onstage conversation along with film clips from her producing achievements.

Three-time Oscar® winner Howard Shore is one of cinema’s most celebrated composers. Along with scoring the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, Shore has created soaring, propulsive compositions for the greats, from Martin Scorsese to David Cronenberg’s entire oeuvre. Shore will reflect on his career in film in a can’t-miss event.



The stars are shining bright on Opening Night of the 51st Chicago International Film Festival at the Auditorium Theatre, a National Historic Landmark.

From opera to rock ‘n roll, from political conventions to sporting events, the Auditorium Theatre has played a role in the lives of Chicago citizens for 125 years. Opening Night of the 51st Chicago International Film Festival will continue this role for one night only.

Join us as we celebrate the glamour of going to the movies and the opening of the Festival with a spotlight presentation of a premiere film, in classic Hollywood style.

Check back for further details.