2018 Gala


The Governing Board of Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival invite you to our annual Summer Gala! Join us as we pay tribute to Chicago International Film Festival Founder and CEO Michael Kutza for his 55 year career and dedication to Chicago and the art of film.

Honoring Founder Michael Kutza

Saturday, July 14 • 6:00pm – 10:30pm
Loews Chicago Hotel, 455 N. Park Drive
Event Chairs: Chaz Ebert, Candace Jordan, and Maria Pappas
Cocktails, Silent and Live Auction, Dinner, Surprise guests, and more!



Or call 312.683.0121 x108. Tickets start at $500 and tables at $5,000


Proceeds from the Summer Gala will support Cinema/Chicago’s year-round programs including: the Chicago International Film Festival, the Chicago International Television Festival, free CineYouth Festival, free International Screenings Program, and Education Program. Cinema/Chicago’s Education Program provides free film screenings to more than 7,000 Chicago Public School students annually as well as curriculum support and study guides for educators.

Cinema/Chicago, the presenter of the Chicago International Film Festival, is a 501(c)3 non-profit arts and education organization dedicated to fostering better communication between people of diverse cultures through the art of film and the moving image.

  • Michael Kutza and Sophia Loren


Photo: Michael KutzaMICHAEL KUTZA founded the Chicago International Film Festival at age 22 in 1964 with silent screen star Colleen Moore; the Festival made its debut at the Carnegie Theatre at Rush and Oak Streets on November 9, 1965. Kutza served as Artistic Director through 2017, holding that title longer than any other Festival artistic director, at which time he passed the baton to Mimi Plauché and Kutza was promoted to CEO.

Over the course of his 55-year career, Kutza was responsible for supporting the early careers of directors who have gone on to be regarded as some of the film industry’s most acclaimed figures, including Martin Scorsese, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Krzysztof Zanussi, Claude Lelouch, Wim Wenders, Margarethe von Trotta, Tsai Ming-liang, Mike Leigh, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, John Carpenter, Joe Swanberg and Taylor Hackford, among many others. He also continuously featured adventurous, cutting-edge films from across the globe to draw attention to previously untold stories and undiscovered new talent.  Under his leadership, a who’s who of the film industry’s elite has attended the Festival and its special events, including Harold Lloyd, Bette Davis, Jack Lemmon, Vincente Minnelli, Sophia Loren, Jack Nicholson, Shirley MacLaine, François Truffaut, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, Liv Ullmann, Jodie Foster, Halle Berry, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, Sidney Poitier, Helen Mirren, Jane Fonda, Chadwick Boseman, Vanessa Redgrave, and many more.

Kutza has been awarded countless honors over the course of his storied career, including named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, awarded by French Minister of Culture Jacques Lang, at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984. He also received the Silver Lion Award from the 32nd Venice International Film Festival, awarded for organizing a special section devoted to U.S. independent filmmakers. He received the Chicago Sun-Times award for “Exceptional Contribution to Chicago.” In 2010, Chicago Magazine included Kutza on their list of “Top 40 Chicago Visionaries.” In 2012, he received the Sydney Pollack Award from the American Cinematheque, honoring a person “who has been of critical importance and continuing influence in non-profit film exhibition, film preservation and/or independent film distribution.” In June 2015, Kutza was named a Knight of the Legion of Honour by the President of the French Republic for his achievements as “an internationally recognized graphic designer, filmmaker and the Founder of the Chicago International Film Festival.” And, in 2017, Kutza received the “Onorificenza di Cavalierato,” the highest honor awarded to a person in the arts, from the President of the Italian Republic.