‘The President’ wins top prize at Chicago International Film Festival

SHARE ‘The President’ wins top prize at Chicago International Film Festival

The Chicago International Film Festival awarded the Gold Hugo for best film, its top prize, to “The President” by Iran’s Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

Actress Kathleen Turner, president of the international jury, introduced a video greeting from Mahkmalbaf. He dedicated his Hugo to Amir-Entezam, a political prisoner of three decades who he called “the Mandela of Iran.”

The global scope of the competition is underscored by Mahkmalbaf making his last 10 films in 10 different countries outside of his native Iran. Set “in an unknown country”– and shot in the Republic of Georgia– “The President” is a timely drama about a deposed dictator on the run with his 5-year-old grandson after a coup d’etat. They meet freed political prisoners who survived torture, as Mahkmalbaf did at the hands of the Shah’s secret police in the ‘70s.“The President” is among the “Best of the Fest” features that will screen on Wednesday. Check chicagofilmfestival.com for more titles.Various juries at the fest, celebrating its 50th anniversary, announced a total of 33 awards, prizes, plaques and special mentions on Friday evening at the Sofitel Hotel in Streeterville. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker served as emcee.

Michael Kutza, founder and artistic director of the festival, gave his Founder’s Award to actor Michael Keaton for his role as an actor attempting a comeback in Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “Birdman,” which us scheduled to open theatrically in Chicago on Oct. 24.Jorge Perez Solano’s “La Tirisia” received the first Roger Ebert Award from Sonia Evans, the daughter of the late Sun-Times film critic and festival booster. The award honors “an emerging filmmaker whose film presents a fresh and uncompromising vision.”

Jenny Stubin in “Alley Cat”

Jenny Stubin in “Alley Cat”

The Chicago Award went to “The Alley Cat” by Marie Ullrich, a locally made bike messenger drama that screens at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the AMC River East 21, 300 E. Illinois..

The Silver Hugo for best actor went to Anton Yelchin, as an aspiring musician who forms an unlikely musical partnership with a man grieving over his son’s tragic death in “Rudderless,” now in its opening weekend in Chicago. The best actress prize went to Geraldine Chaplin, who plays a wealthy tourist in the Dominican Republic in love with a much younger woman.

Among the other winners:


• “Refugiado,” Diego Lerman’s story of a woman on the run from her abusive husband in Buenos Aires, received a special jury prize Silver Hugo.

•  Abderrahmane Sissako, whose “Timbuktu” recounts the takeover of Northern Mali by Islamic militants, was named best director.

• Silver Hugo, Best Cinematography: John Christian Rosenlund, “1001 Grams”

• Silver Hugo for Best Screenplay: Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz, “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem”

• Gold Plaque for Best Art Direction: Mauro Radaelli, “Human Capital”

• Gold Plaque for Best Costume Design: Pia Myrdal and Anne-Dorthe Eskildsen, “Speed Walking”

• Gold Plaque Special Mention for Originality: “The Owners,” directed by Adilkhan Yerzhanov


•  Ronnie Sandahl’s Swedish study of class conflict “Underdog” won the Gold Hugo in the New Directors Competition.

•  Silver Hugo: “Next to Her,” directed by Asaf Korman.


• Gold Hugo for Best Short Film: “Amazon,” directed by Marianne O. Ulrichsen.

•  Silver Hugo for Live Action Short: “In August,” directed by Jenna Hasse.

•  Gold Plaque for Best Student Short: “Skunk” directed by Annie Silverstein.

• Gold Plaque for Narrative/Live Action Short: “Artun,” directed by Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson

• Silver Plaque for Narrative/Live Action Short: “The Immaculates,” directed by Ronny Trocker.

• Gold Plaque for Best Experimental Short: “Prehistoric Cabaret,” directed by Bertrand Mandico.

• Special Mention: “Washingtonia,” directed by Konstantina Kotzamani.


• Silver Hugo: “Love.Love.Love,” directed by Sandhya Daisy Sundaram.

• Gold Plaque — Special Jury Prize: “Ghost Train,” directed by James Fleming and Kelly Hucker.

• Special Mention: “A Paradise,” directed by Jayisha Patel.


• Silver Hugo for best animated short film: “Coda,” directed by Alan Holly.

• Gold Plaque — Special Jury Prize: “Symphony No. 42,” directed by Réka Bucsi.

• Silver Plaque: “Drifting,”  directed by Joel Benjamin.

• Special Mention: “Man on the Chair,” directed by Jeong Dahee.

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