The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival awarded its top honor, a Gold Hugo, to “A Sort of Family.” The International Competition jury picked this Argentinian drama over 15 other titles. Director Diego Lerman won a Silver Hugo at 2014’s festival for his “Refugiado.” Both films observe mother and child bonds.
Other juries announced their choices Friday night at the AMC River East 21, where the festival wraps up Oct. 26. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker served as emcee at the ceremony.
A Silver Hugo for best director went to Polish co-directors Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze for “Birds Are Singing in Kigali.” A Silver Hugo for Best Actress was shared by the film’s co-stars, Jowita Budnik and Eliane Umuhire, who play a Polish ornithologist and a Rwandan refugee, respectively.
“Felicite” — a Senegal/France/Belgium co-production — got a Silver Hugo Jury Prize. Aleksandr Yatsenko scored a best actor Silver Hugo for playing a Russian paramedic in “Arrhythmia.” A best screenplay Silver Plaque went to Mohammad Rasoulof for “A Man of Integrity,” a powerful Iranian drama he also directed. In a prerecorded video he lamented political impediments prevented him from accepting the award in person.
“Hannah,” an elliptical tale starring Charlotte Rampling, won the Silver Plaque best cinematography for cinematographer Chayse Irvin. Vaclav Novak won a Silver Plaque for best art direction in “The Line.”
The New Directors jury looked at 16 first or second features, and voted a Gold Hugo for “No Date, No Signature,” directed by Vahid Jalilvand. Another Iranian director, Milad Alami, got a Silver Hugo for “The Charmer.”
The Chicago Award for “Princess Cyd” was accepted by filmmaker Stephen Cone, who said he worked in the festival’s box office 13 years ago when he came to Chicago.
In the Documentary Competition, “The Other Side of the Wall” by Pau Ortiz received a Gold Hugo. A Silver Hugo went to “Mr. Gay Syria” by Ayse Toprak. The Out-Look Competition jury for LGBQT films picked “BPM” by Robin Campill for a Gold Q-Hugo, and awarded a Silver Q-Hugo to “God’s Own Country” by Francis Lee.
Chaz Ebert presented the Roger Ebert Award for “an emerging filmmaker with a fresh and uncompromising vision.” Colombian director Laura Mora won for “Killing Jesus,” one of several revenge-themed dramas this year.
Festival founder and CEO Michael Kutza gave his Founder’s Award to Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” this year’s closing night film that screens next Thursday “It encompasses everything I created this festival for,” noted Kutza.
Nine shorts in three categories — narrative, animated and documentary — earned awards, plaques and special mentions.
Ten award-winning features will appear in Best of the Fest programs on Wednesday and Thursday The festival will post details about these extra screenings at https://www.chicagofilmfestival.com.