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Banner: the 57th Chicago International Film Festival Historical

Before, Now & Then (Nana)

Kamila Andini  |   Indonesia
Historical, LGBTQ, Women Centered

Set in 1960s Indonesia, this layered, contemplative drama sees a lonely woman forge a life-saving friendship with her husband’s mistress.


Call Jane

Phyllis Nagy  |   United States
Historical, Political, Women Centered

After a life-threatening heart condition forces a suburban Chicago housewife (Elizabeth Banks) to seek an abortion in 1968, she turns to an underground activist group for help—and joins their cause.


Chile ’76

Manuela Martelli  |   Chile, Argentina, Qatar
Historical, Political, Thriller

In this taut, understated thriller, a woman of means treads dangerous ground when she agrees to care for an injured member of the political opposition during the Pinochet dictatorship.


A Compassionate Spy

Steve James  |   United States, United Kingdom
Historical, Political, Social Commentary

The fascinating story of Manhattan Project scientist Theodore Hall, who passed crucial military secrets to Soviet intelligence in the hopes of saving the world.



Marie Kreutzer  |   Austria, France, Germany
English, French, German, Hungarian  
Drama, Historical, Women Centered

Vicky Krieps delivers a tour-de-force performance as Austria’s Empress Elisabeth in a bold and timely revisionist costume drama.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wo hu cang long)

Ang Lee  |   Taiwan, Hong Kong, United States, China
Action, Historical, Romance

Set against 19th-century China’s breathtaking landscape, this action-packed, box office smash from acclaimed director Ang Lee features stunning martial arts choreography by Yuen Wo Ping (The Matrix).



J.D. Dillard  |   United States
Action, Drama, Historical

Devotion, an aerial war epic based on the bestselling book of the same name, tells the harrowing true story of Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell), two elite U.S. Navy fighter pilots during the Korean War. Their heroic sacrifices would ultimately make them the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen.


Empire of Light

Sam Mendes  |   United Kingdom, United States
Film on Film, Historical, Social Commentary

Set in an English seaside town in the early 1980s, Empire of Light is a powerful and poignant story about human connection and the magic of cinema from Academy Award®-winning director Sam Mendes.


Godland (Vanskabte Land)

Hlynur Pálmason  |   Denmark, Iceland, France, Sweden
Danish, Icelandic  
Historical, Religion, Social Commentary

Journeying to Iceland to establish a parish in a remote part of the Danish colony, a priest is confronted by an unforgiving landscape and wary locals, who refuse to bend to his will.


If These Walls Could Sing

Mary McCartney  |   United Kingdom
Historical, Music

In this personal film of memory and discovery, director Mary McCartney gives exclusive access to the most famous and longest-running studio in the world, Abbey Road Studios.


King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones

Harriet Marin Jones  |   France, United States
English, French  
Historical, Social Commentary

The thrilling life story of the legendary African American powerbroker, who built a multimillion-dollar empire running a racketeering syndicate on Chicago’s South Side in the 1930s and ’40s.


Lord of the Ants (Il signore delle formiche)

Gianni Amelio  |   Italy
Biopic, Historical, LGBTQ

In this stirring true-life tale set in 1968 Italy, poet and playwright Aldo Braibant must defend himself after he is accused of breaking an antiquated Fascist-era law criminalizing homosexuality.


The Lost King

Stephen Frears  |   United Kingdom
Biopic, Drama, Historical

Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan star in this inspiring true-story of a shy, middle-aged writer who sets out to unearth the long-buried truth about King Richard III’s life and death.



Josh Alexander  |   United States
Historical, Political, Social Commentary

An in-depth look at controversial civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton detailing the roots of his political engagement and his evolution into a media-savvy crusader.


Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues

Sacha Jenkins  |   United States
Historical, Music, Social Commentary

An intimate and revealing look at the world-changing musician, presented
through a lens of archival footage and never-before-heard home recordings and personal conversations.


The March on Rome (Marcia su Roma)

Mark Cousins  |   Italy
English, Italian  
Film on Film, Historical, Political

For his latest masterful inquiry into the power of the moving image, director Mark Cousins ventures into Italy’s film archives to expose the machinations and faulty foundations of fascism through his dissection of an infamous 1923 propaganda film.


The Melt Goes On Forever: The Art and Times of David Hammons

Judd Tully & Harold Crooks  |   United States, Canada
Historical, Political, Social Commentary

A striking portrait of artist David Hammons, who emerged out of L.A.’s Watts Rebellion and whose provocative work was rooted in a deep critique of U.S. society.



Alexandru Belc  |   Romania, France
Coming of Age, Historical, Political

In 1972 Bucharest, agathering of freedom-minded teenagers is interrupted when the secret police come knocking in this alternately tender and tense, politically inflected coming-of-age drama.


My Policeman

Michael Grandage  |   United Kingdom, United States
Historical, LGBTQ, Romance

A tale of forbidden romance and changing social conventions that follows the relationships between three people—and their emotional journey spanning decades.


The Natural History of Destruction

Sergei Loznitsa  |   Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands
English, German  
Historical, Political

In this mesmerizing documentary crafted entirely from WWII archival footage, Ukrainian-raised filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa (Donbass) mounts a harrowing critique of the killing of civilian populations during war-time.


Pacifiction (Tourment sur les îles)

Albert Serra  |   France, Spain, Germany, Portugal
Historical, Mystery, Political

De Roller, France’s top man in post-colonial Tahiti, grows paranoid as rumors of military tests begin circulating throughout the island in this mesmerizing, elliptical vision of declining colonial enterprise and imperialist corruption.


The Wonder

Sebastián Lelio  |   United Kingdom, Ireland
Historical, Literary Adaptation, Mystery, Religion

The Irish Midlands, 1862. When a young girl stops eating yet miraculously remains alive and well, a skeptical nurse is called to investigate, challenging the faith of the community.