fbpx
< Back to Genre List
56th Chicago International Film Festival banner

GENRE: Social Commentary


40 Years a Prisoner

Tommy Oliver  |   United States
Documentary, Family Affairs, Political, Social Commentary
English  

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.

City So Real

Steve James  |   United States
Documentary, Political, Social Commentary
English, Punjabi, Spanish  

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.

The Columnist De Kuthoer

Ivo van Aart  |   The Netherlands
Action, Comedy, Horror, Social Commentary
Dutch  
Femke is over it! The constant critique, the gaslighting for speaking her truth, the trolls’ anonymous, sexist insults. A columnist for a revered publication in The Netherlands, the divorced, city-dwelling single mother faces a daily barrage of negativity on social media. Sure, she shouldn’t read the comments, but who doesn’t read the comments?! Meanwhile, her [...]

Dear Comrades! Dorogie tovarishchi

Andrei Konchalovsky  |   Russia
Drama, Historical, Political, Social Commentary
Russian  

In 1962, when a strike at a local factory catches ardent Communist Party official Lyudmila and her colleagues off guard, Moscow steps in. Left searching for her missing daughter, who joined the strike, Lyudmilla’s eyes are opened to the human toll of state-sanctioned violence. Filmed in arresting black and white, this historic tale bristles with immediacy.

Finding Yingying

Jiayan "Jenny" Shi  |   United States
Documentary, Mystery, Political, Social Commentary
English, Mandarin  

In 2017, Chinese student Yingying Zhang went missing just weeks after arriving at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Former classmate Jiayan “Jenny” Shi investigates the mystery surrounding Yingying’s disappearance and its devastating impact on her family and her community.

Gaza Mon Amour

Tarzan & Arab Nasser  |  Palestine, France, Germany, Portugal, Qatar
Comedy, Romance, Social Commentary
Arabic  
Sixty-year-old Palestinian fisherman and lifelong bachelor Issa (Salim Daw) holds a secret torch for Siham (Hiam Abbas), a dressmaker at the market. Just as he is getting up the courage to propose to her, Issa nets an ancient statue of a well-endowed, larger-than-life-sized Apollo. When the Hamas authorities get wind of the existence of this [...]

Mama Gloria

Luchina Fisher  |   United States
Biopic, Documentary, LGBTQ, Sex and Sexuality, Social Commentary
English  

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.

Memory House

João Paulo Miranda Maria  |  Brazil, France
Drama, Mystery, Social Commentary
German, Portuguese  
In southern Brazil—in a strange Austrian colony of sorts lost in time—indigenous-Black man Cristovam has arrived from the north to take a job at a milk factory. In the face of unrelenting xenophobia and racism, he finds refuge in an abandoned house filled with art objects and folkloric memorabilia that connect him back to his [...]

MLK/FBI

Sam Pollard  |   United States
Biopic, Documentary, Historical, Literary Adaptation, Political, Social Commentary
English  
It should come as no surprise that the FBI mounted a relentless campaign of surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but this astonishing documentary reveals both the shocking details of the operation and the complexity of the iconic man in its crosshairs. Using newly declassified files, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Pollard (Chicago International [...]

One Night in Miami

Regina King  |   United States
Biopic, Drama, Historical, Literary Adaptation, Social Commentary
English  

Adapted from the award-winning play of the same name, One Night in Miami is a fictional account of the incredible night in 1964 when underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall—Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).

The Special Especial

Ignacio Márquez  |  Venezuela, United States
Coming of Age, Drama, Family Affairs, Social Commentary
Spanish  

In this deftly told and uplifting debut, a profoundly charming young man must navigate the challenges of early adulthood with Down Syndrome as he seeks to build a life of independence from his troubled father. Long separated by an ocean of silence and shame, will the two men be able to assemble a common future?

Sylvie’s Love

Eugene Ashe  |   United States
Drama, Historical, Romance, Social Commentary
English  
In Sylvie’s Love, the jazz is smooth and the air sultry in the hot New York summer of 1957. When Sylvie (Tessa Thompson), the daughter of a record-shop owner (Lance Reddick), meets Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha), a saxophonist who gets a part-time job at the shop, the two begin a friendship that sparks a deep passion [...]

There Is No Evil Sheytan vojud nadarad

Mohammad Rasoulof  |  Germany, Czech Republic, Iran
Drama, Social Commentary
Farsi  
Four thematically connected, meticulously constructed stories follow characters whose decisions to carry out executions (or not) have life- and soul-altering consequences. Devoted family man Heshmat cares for his aging mother, wife, and daughter—but where does he go every morning before dawn? Young soldier Pouya, who has been assigned to the prison death penalty unit, will [...]

True Mothers Asa ga Kuru

Kawase Naomi  |   Japan
Drama, Family Affairs, Literary Adaptation, Social Commentary
Japanese  
After a long and painful struggle with infertility, Satoko and her husband Kiyokazu stumble across Baby Baton, a non-profit organization that matches couples who can't conceive with mothers who are unable to raise their children. Realizing that adoption could make their family whole, the couple soon brings home a son, little Asato. But six years [...]

Under the Open Sky Subarashiki Sekai

Nishikawa Miwa  |   Japan
Crime, Drama, Literary Adaptation, Social Commentary
Japanese  

Hirokazu Kore-eda protégée Miwa Nishikawa (Dear Doctor) returns to the Festival with her compassionate yet pointed chronicle of an ex-con’s rough re-entry into society. Koji Yakusho (13 Assassins, Shall We Dance?) delivers a nuanced lead performance as former Yakuza Mikami, who struggles to secure both employment and a new sense of self after years of incarceration.