Festival Programs

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Festival Programs

View the 59th Festival selection in carefully curated thematic Programs chosen by our programmers.

In a classroom, a crowd of onlookers watches a teenage boy read from a piece of paper.

Best of the Fest

Don’t miss newly added screenings of these Festival award winners and audience favorites!

A black and white image of a man riding a motorcycle over a bridge. He looks at something behind him.

Closing Night

The festival comes to a close with The Bikeriders from writer-director Jeff Nichols, a furious drama following the rise of a fictional 1960s Midwestern motorcycle club through the lives of its members.

A woman and two men sit in a dimly lit dining hall, having a meal. A Christmas tree stands behind them.

Special Presentations

Get a first look at these highly anticipated films by notable directors featuring celebrated talent.

A girl in a warm hooded coat leads a horse by the bridle.

Community Cinema

We are delighted to partner with the Chicago Park District to present this exciting selection of films in neighborhoods across the city. These movies represent different genres and styles, and are paired with post-screening discussions with filmmakers and other special guests.

A woman wearing a white dress, cradles a baby in a diaper in a neighborhood surrounded by trees.

International Competition

Masterful, stylish, and bold, these powerful cinematic statements represent the best in modern filmmaking from around the globe.

A girl in a pink button-up, soaking wet, looks off camera. Behind her a pond surrounded by lush trees

New Directors Competition

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

Two black cyclists, in full kits, ride past camera on a flat road.


These real-life stories go up-close and personal with the people and issues that define who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going.

A man lies in the snow, blood pooling behind his head. Two people stand nearby, embracing eachother, one holds a phone.


Award-winners and critical favorites, these films are among the year’s most acclaimed and accomplished.

A dirty, bloodied man holds a baby close to him, his other hand flung behind him off camera.


These resonant films capture moments of seismic change and pivotal emotional turning points from all corners of the globe.

A drag queen in a long wig and leotard performs in front of an adoring crowd.


Competing for the Q Hugo Award, these superbly crafted films reflect the myriad perspectives and experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals.


Succinct yet mighty films that demonstrate the virtuosity and craft of the short format.

A man with blood splattered down the side of his face yells as two people standing behind him look straight ahead in shock.

After Dark

These shock-filled, spine-tingling, and wildly strange visions will keep you up late into the night.

Astronaut Ronald McNair smiles while holding a film slate. He wears a name badge that says Cecil B. McNair.

Black Perspectives

A celebration of the cultural and historical impact of African-American and Black experiences, showcasing the diversity and richness of African diasporic narratives.

A jock traps a dark haired man against a locker as a young woman looks on in shock.

City & State

Ranging from comedy to horror to emotional documentaries, the year’s stories from the brightest local talents compete for the Chicago Award.

Three women stand on the front steps of a grand building, looking at each other conspiratorially.


Hilarious to deadpan, subversive to satirical, this program presents a range of films that will leave you laughing all the way home.

Two men speak to each other. Framed behind them is a large mirrored structure, reflecting trees and buildings.


Set across cityscapes and in apartment buildings, hotels, and museums, this collection of films explores the ways that people define — and are defined by — the changing spaces around them.

Four women lay together, holding each other tenderly.

Women in Cinema

Powerful and provocative films by both leading women filmmakers and exciting new voices.

Past Events

A young boy smiles, his back to the bright blue sky, with his arms and legs spread as if tossed in the air.

Opening Night

This year’s festival kicks off with We Grown Now, a heartfelt story set in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green projects in the early 1990s, two boys come of age amid change in their community.

A man in a tuxedo is seated at a mirrored table. His face is reflected up at him between the table settings.


Struggling to find his place at Oxford University, student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), in the festival Centerpiece presentation, Saltburn

A bald, bearded man wearing a white button up stands in front of a large home with an American flag hanging from it.

Newly Added

Exciting, last-minute additions to the festival lineup.

After Dark Opening Night

Join us opening night for Sick, the new slasher film from the writer of Scream, which follows two college co-eds who quarantine at a remote lake house, only to discover they are not entirely alone.

Drive In

A specially curated collection of festival films appearing at ChiTown Movies Drive-In in Pilsen.