Festival Programs

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Festival Programs

View the 56th festival selection in carefully curated thematic Programs chosen by our programmers.

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Best of the Fest

Don’t miss these Festival award winners and audience favorites

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Opening Night

Kick off this year’s festival with our special drive-in screening of Belushi, a documentary that captures the complicated and singular essence of a beloved American iconof comedy.


Closing Night

The festival comes to a close with a drive-in screening of Nomadlandstarring Frances McDormand.

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Special Presentations

The most highly anticipated films of the season from celebrated filmmakers feature unforgettable real-life stories and amazing performances from the best actors working today.

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International Competition

This program of striking and masterfully crafted films from around the world showcases the best in current cinema.

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New Directors Competition

Screening for the first time in the U.S., these bold works from emerging talents represent the most exciting new voices in international cinema.

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Out-Look Competition

These films—which compete for the Festival’s Q Hugo Award—reflect superbly crafted perspectives on sexuality and identity from across the globe.

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This program salutes the latest movies from the world’s most venerable and celebrated filmmakers.

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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.

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Love in the Time of…

From the flutters of first attraction to the anguish of unrequited affection to late-in-life passion, these tales of romance take you on a tour of the many faces of love.

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From slapstick to satire, romantic hijinks to surrealist wit, this program presents a range of films that are funny and about funny people.

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After Dark

These sinister, shock-filled, and spine-tingling movies will keep your adrenaline pumping late into the night.

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Black Perspectives

This program celebrates the richness and diversity of African-American and Black storytellers from Chicago to the Ivory Coast to Venezuela.

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Women in Cinema

This program highlights powerful and provocative films by both leading women filmmakers and exciting new voices.

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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.

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Cinemas of the Americas

A dynamic showcase of fresh work by emerging and veteran filmmakers from South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.



A robust collection of films that reflect the diverse artistry and craft of the short format.