Today at the Chicago International Film Festival: Ken Loach takes on the gig economy

Also screening: Chinese live streamers in “Present. Perfect.’ and an animated look at the Taliban in ‘The Swallows of Kabul’

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“Sorry We Missed You”

Kino Lorber

The Chicago International Film Festival continues at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois.

‘Sorry We Missed You’ (U.K./ France/ Belgium) Lefty auteur Ken Loach once again dramatizes economic injustice in the lives of workers. Loach — whose “I, Daniel Blake” screened at the 2016 festival — depicts a family where both parents have “zero-hour contracts,” sort of like piecework sped up in the so-called gig economy. Martin drives a truck to deliver packages to “clients.” Abby does home care for ill, elderly and disabled “clients.” Long hours stress out their 11-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son. The family is fracturing. Loach gives us compassionate sociology, not knee-jerk propaganda. 5:45 p.m. Oct. 20

‘The Swallows of Kabul’ (France/ Switzerland/ Luxembourg) Adapting a trilogy authored by Yasmina Khadra, Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec co-direct an indelible tale of tragic sacrifice by freedom seekers enduring Taliban repression. Four characters will connect: a Soviet war vet overseeing a small jail, his dying wife, and a young couple forbidden to teach history and drawing. A public execution in a soccer field looms. Swallows — shot out of the bright sky with Kalashnikovs — symbolize freedom. This animated drama employs a watercolor look and hand-drawn figures, although the Taliban are often eyeless. One special detail: English-language lyrics sampled from “Burka Blue,” a 2002 music video illegally shot by a burka-clad trio. 11 a.m. Oct. 20; 2:15 p.m. Oct. 25

‘Shorts 5: Life and Something More.’ Two fine shorts in this program observe role players. In “The Role” (Iran) by Farnoosh Samadi, a movie extra auditions for a part. He brings his wife and little daughter. He’s awful. Then she’s asked to read lines of his character’s wife. Cue a symbol: a white dove stuck behind a glass door flies free. Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favourite” and “The Lobster”) directs a truly weird little story titled “Nimic” (Germany/UK/U.S.) Matt Dillon plays a musician heading home from rehearsal when a woman on the subway asks, “Excuse me, do you have the time?” Somehow he loses his wife, three kids and his place in the orchestra. 1:45 p.m. Oct 20; 2:30 p.m. Oct. 21

‘Present.Perfect.’ (U. S./ Hong Kong) Shengze Zhu, who got an MFA at School of the Art Institute, edited 800 hours of black-and-white video she found on Chinese internet sites. People live-stream themselves at work and at home. Live-streamers see comments texted by their viewers, and reply on camera in real-time. We watch a sad sort of isolated labor. Live-streamers who feel unseen in real life work online to earn the attention of strangers who feel no one sees them either, except through their own screens. Paying attention is a two-way transaction. It’s community building in post-Communism. 2:30 p.m. Oct. 20

‘Cordillera of Dreams’ (Chile/ France) Patricio Guzmán fled his country in 1973 to finish making “The Battle of Chile,” a documentary trilogy on the fall of socialist Salvador Allende and rise of dictator Augusto Pinochet. His latest work is a poetic essay on his past and political history. As in “Nostalgia for the Light,” Guzmán seeks symbols in nature. This time it is the majestic mountain range that defines Chile: “It has seen things that people have hidden from us. If we could translate what the rocks say, we would have the answers today. 6 p.m Oct. 20; 1 p.m. Oct. 22

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