Alfre Woodard plays a prison warden enduring the occupational hazards — ethical and emotional — of overseeing executions in “Clemency,” screening Friday at the Chicago International Film Festival.
Writer-director Chinonye Chukwu dispenses with the usual suspense of death row narratives. Daily chants of death-penalty protestors add stress, yet note small changes in what this by-the-books professional wears to work as her soul finally resets. During four years of research, Chukwu lent her filmmaking skills to make testimonial videos for Ohio clemency cases.
“Clemency” screens at 8:45 p.m. Oct. 18 and 7:45 p.m. Oct 19.
Also showing Friday during the fest at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois:
• ‘Adam’ (Morocco/France/Belgium) Young pregnant villager Samia seeks work and a place to stay in Casablanca. Abla, a stern widow with an 8-year-old daughter, runs a bakery from her home. She takes Samia in just for a night, and another, and then until the title character is born. Maryam Touzani writes and directs a moving, observant portrait of two women empowering one another to overcome social customs. Touzani says her own parents once took in someone like Samia. She dedicates “Adam” to her mother. 5:45 p.m. Oct. 18; 7 p.m. Oct. 19.
• ‘Sole’ (Italy/Poland) After making two shorts about parenthood, Carlo Sironi offers a feature about Lena, a pregnant young Polish woman, and Ermanno, a motorbike thief. Lena is paid 10,000 euros (plus another 1,000 to breast feed) by Ermanno’s uncle, who pays his nephew to safeguard the surrogate. “Sole” is the name picked by the childless couple. Here for the fest, Sironi admits he’s “a bit of a control freak” but that means he deliberately calibrates the affect on the faces of Lena and Ermanno for his unlikely “love story.” 8 p.m. Oct. 18; 3:45 p.m. Oct. 24.
Bill Stamets is a Chicago freelance writer.