Welcome to TAKE 2, our monthly feature where we highlight recent Chicago International Film Festival selections that are now playing in theaters or on streaming platforms in case you missed them at the Festival! Take a look below for the best of #ChiFilmFest to watch this month.
Director: Alla Kovgan
Documentary, 55th Chicago International Film Festival
This immersive 3D documentary traces the life of modern dance pioneer Merce Cunningham. With never-before-seen archival footage, the film chronicles Cunningham’s artistic evolutions and formative relationships—most notably with musician John Cage—along with imaginative restagings of his iconic works. The result is a visceral experience of his cutting-edge choreography and a captivating portrait of a man who remained relentlessly committed to innovation throughout his life.
Opens January 3, visit website for showtimes
Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Black Perspectives, Gala Presentation, 55th Chicago International Film Festival
Just Mercy is the true story of young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) and his history-making battles for justice in Alabama. Stevenson refuses to back down as he fights a legal system without mercy stacked against him and his clients at every turn. One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a man whose clear innocence means nothing to the corrupt and compassionless forces Stevenson doggedly takes on.
Opens January 10, visit website for showtimes
AMC River East 21, 322 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611
Director: Chinonye Chukwu
International Competition, 55th Chicago International Film Festival
Alfre Woodard delivers a searing performance as Bernadine Williams, a prison warden who dutifully carries out executions in a maximum-security prison. After a botched procedure, cracks begin to surface in her stoic demeanor, and her growing bond with a doomed inmate pushes Bernadine toward a powerful personal reckoning. In only her second feature and winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, director Chinonye Chukwu crafts an astute character study of a strong-willed woman trying to salvage what remains of her soul.
Opens January 10, visit website for showtimes
Landmark’s Renaissance Place Cinema, 1850 Second Street, downtown, Highland Park, IL, 60035
Director: Ladj Ly
Global Currents, 55th Chicago International Film Festival
In his astonishing, assured feature film debut, Ladj Ly stages an unconventional police procedural in Montfermeil, the same Parisian district where Victor Hugo set his landmark saga. Ly follows three plainclothes cops as they navigate—and inflame—the neighborhood’s simmering ethnic and racial tensions, exploring the adversarial relationship between law enforcement and the neighborhood’s poor Muslim population. Ly’s vérité approach lends even more urgency to the timely tale of social injustice.
Opens January 17, visit website for showtimes
Music Box Theater, 3733 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
Director: Edward Norton
Opening Night, 55th Chicago International Film Festival
Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a lonely private detective living with Tourette Syndrome, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Armed only with a few clues and the engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of New York in the balance. In a mystery that carries him from gin-soaked jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York’s power brokers, Lionel contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city to honor his friend and save the woman who might be his own salvation.
Motherless Brooklyn is available digital services starting January 14.
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Gala Presentation, 55th Chicago International Film Festival
Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, Harriet tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.
Harriet is available on digital services starting January 28.
Director: Gregory Dixon
City & State, 54th Chicago International Film Festival
Making her dazzling feature debut, Chicago writer-actor McKenzie Chinn stars as a struggling artist, navigating work and romance in the Windy City. When her boyfriend asks her to drop everything and move cross-country, she soon discovers that her biggest obstacle may be herself. Featuring quirky animation and a revelatory central performance, Olympia is a heartfelt story for anyone who’s ever felt adrift on the rough seas of adulthood.
Olympia is available now to stream on Amazon Prime.