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10 to see at the Chicago International Film Festival

By Bill Stamets | For Sun-Times Media
The Chicago International Film Festival is the biggest on the city’s calendar of big-screen bashes. From Albania to Vietnam, there are dramas, documentaries and shorts presented by Cinema/Chicago.
Curious moviegoers can travel to the land of subtitles and subtexts. Here directors — and their characters — make atypical choices. At least three films end unexpectedly with vehicles coming out of nowhere. Expect after-screening debates.



When: Oct. 15-29

Where: AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois

Tickets: $14 for general screenings, with discounts for Cinema/Chicago members, students and seniors. After 10 p.m.: $10. Weekday matinees through 5 p.m.: $8

Info: (312) 332-FILM;



New features total 137, including the latest from Peter Greenaway, Michael Moore and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Unfortunately, the fest has yet to pre-screen for critics most entries with big names.

Promising pairs of actors appear in six films: Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche, Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu, Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel, and Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

Retrospective screenings are slated for “Sherlock Holmes” (shot in Chicago in 1916), “Funny Girl” (1968), “To Sleep with Anger” (1990) and “Hugo” (2011). Indies with local links are directed by Malik Bader, Claire Carre, Stephen Cone, Jack C. Newell and Patrick Underwood. Eight programs of shorts offer 51 works.

Chicago architect Helmut Jahn will speak and screen clips on Oct. 17 as part of the Spotlight: Architecture + Space + Design program. On Oct. 18 the festival bestows a Career Achievement Award on Howard Shore, who’s scored films for David Cronenberg, Peter Jackson and Martin Scorsese.

Industry Days is a new series of presentations by professionals that debuts Oct. 22 with a tribute to Chicago producer Gigi Pritzker. Two panels for film buffs are “Friend or Foe: Can Critics and Filmmakers Get Along?” and “The Foreign-Language Crisis: Are Subtitled Movies Fading on U.S. Screens?”

Ten standout titles — most with subtitles — follow. All shows are at AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois, unless noted.


"Mia Madre"

“Mia Madre”

‘Mia Madre’ (Italy, France)

Screening at the Auditorium Theater, 50 E. Congress, the opening night film by Nanni Moretti is a touching portrait of a troubled film director dealing with her American star, a jerk played by John Turturro. Tickets are $23. The $150 VIP ducat includes a reception. 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15.


‘Invention’ (Canada, France)

A sinuous camera glides and rotates in Mark Lewis’ experimental-styled anthology of 14 silent cityscapes and museum views from Paris, Sao Paulo and Toronto. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16; 12:30 p.m. Oct 17.


‘Dheepan’ (France)

Jacques Audiard keenly observes three Sri Lankan refugees forge a family. Author and onetime child soldier Antonythasan Jesuthasan stars in this Cannes Film Festival winner. 8:30 p.m. Oct. 16; 5:30 p.m. Oct. 24.


"45 Years"

“45 Years”

’45 Years’ (U.K.)

Andrew Haigh directs Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling playing a couple facing an anniversary marred by a late lover. Savor the very last gesture. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 17; 6:15 p.m. Oct. 20.

‘Heart of a Dog’ (USA)

Glen Ellyn native and performance artist Laurie Anderson crafts an astute first-person essay about the deaths of her rat terrier Lolabelle, her mother, and artist Gordon Matta-Clark. She is scheduled to appear. 6 p.m. Oct. 17.


"A Very Ordinary Citizen"

“A Very Ordinary Citizen”

‘A Very Ordinary Citizen’ (Iran)

One of six world premieres portrays an 80-year-old man departing from his routine. Majid Barzegar (“Parvis”) alludes to “Jeanne Dielman” and “Crime and Punishment.” 8:30 p.m. Oct. 17; 11:45 a.m. Oct. 18; 4 p.m. Oct. 22.


"In the Underground"

“In the Underground”

‘In the Underground’ (China)

Song Zhantao sublimely documents the misery of coal miners in the Hebei Province. 3:30 p.m. Oct. 18; noon Oct. 19.

‘The Assassin’ (Taiwan, China)

The political terrain of this martial arts saga is murky, but Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s misty veils of clouds are spellbinding. 6 p.m. Oct. 21; 8:15 p.m. Oct. 23.




‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ (France, USA)

Kent Jones will appear with a cinephilic documentary on Francois Truffaut’s 26-hour 1962 interview with Alfred Hitchcock. An international roster of 10 directors offer their two cents. 5 p.m. Oct. 24; 6 p.m. Oct. 26.


"In Jackson Heights"

“In Jackson Heights”

‘In Jackson Heights’ (USA)

Nine weeks of documenting a neighborhood of 167 languages in Queens, New York, yields Frederick Wiseman an 188-minute deconstruction of the melting pot cliche. 1:30 p.m. Oct. 25.