We’re thrilled to screen more than 100 feature films at the 59th Chicago International Film Festival, including new works from acclaimed directors including Todd Haynes, Emerald Fennell, Radu Jude, Alice Rohrwacher, George C. Wolfe, and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, among many others. But we’re just as excited to host screenings of wonderful features, documentaries, and shorts by filmmakers whose names you may not know yet.
Our Programming team works year-round selecting a curated lineup of visually stunning, thought-provoking films from around the globe, and they’ve highlighted some hidden gems at this year’s Festival to help moviegoers plan their #ChiFilmFest schedule:
In the wake of The Great Resignation, widespread union strikes, and the rise of A.I., it’s hard to find a subject as timely and resonant as labor. And master essayist Erik Gandini, famous for his prizewinning hilarious exposé of Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi Videocracy, takes us to some profound and thought-provoking places, as he contemplates and investigates work places and work ethics, from the U.S. to South Korea, Italy to Kuwait.
Totally original, stylized, and sneakily political, you just don’t see films like Alien Island come your way often, combining the mysteries and suspense of stories of extraterrestrial visitors with the realities of living during a military dictatorship. If it wasn’t actually a documentary, you probably wouldn’t believe it.
Is My Living in Vain
(plays as part of Shorts 8: Architecture – Versions of Home)
This fall, the Chicago Architecture Biennial will be happening all over the city and we are fans! This program of shorts focuses on how people shape and are shaped by their locations. A short doc, Is My Living in Vain celebrates and chronicles Black churches in cities in the US and England as sites of personal and political development. It eschews traditional documentary structure to provide a more lived-in experience of these places and the communities that cherish them.
Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó
(plays as part of Shorts 4: Documentary – In Motion)
I find stories of non-traditional family structure valuable. In this funny and moving doc, Sean Wang crafts a loving portrait of his maternal and paternal grandmothers who live as roommates. The love they all share and the wisdom Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó earned from life experiences, good and bad, light this movie from within. If you are in the younger generations of your family and haven’t taken your elders to the movies in a while, let this be your cue!
Not only do I love this film for its moving and poetic story, but it is also a feast for the senses: an immersive experience that is worth fully sinking into. Intricately textured experiments of images and sounds—featuring, among many other things, fantastic original music and an otherworldly sound design—are woven into the narrative to create a wholly original film that is best experienced on the big screen.
This is the queer Argentinian horror film of my dreams. It is lush and moody, its dreamlike atmosphere a rich backdrop for a beautiful queer coming-of-age story. Shrouded in mystery and palpable tension, this film suspends its audience between fantasy and reality, right along with its protagonist. Spine-chilling and tantalizing while also poignant and spiritual… What more could you want?
It has a deceptive simplicity. The plot is pretty spare (a family attempts to wrangle everyone together for a family photo), but it’s about so much more than that. Early Covid paranoia, photography, death, immortality, hilarious family dynamics, Barbara Bush, and more. The story is told with a lot of vision, and it’s got a quirky humor about it, too. One of my absolute favorites of the year.
An extremely well-crafted thriller with a political edge. It’s got some of the very best action scenes of the year, including an incredibly-choreographed chase scene where the lead character has a baby strapped to him the whole time. Really harrowing, nail-biting stuff!
Banel & Adama
Although it’s in the romance genre, I was surprised by how dark the tone of this film was, which I loved. The film’s stunning cinematography and evocative symbolism will take viewers on a mesmerizing journey that challenges societal norms and will definitely leave a lasting impression.
Africans With Mainframes
(plays as part of Shorts 7: Black Perspectives – Resonance)
From the beginning to the end of the film, I was captivated by the style of storytelling. I think it challenges conventional narratives, but also provides an entertaining and unique take on music history.