The Chicago International Film Festival continues through Sunday at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois.
‘The Belly of the Whale’ (Ireland)
A 15-year-old who supposedly shotgunned his father and a 50-ish alcoholic trying to score healthcare for his dying wife scheme to steal a politician’s blackmail payoff. Making his feature debut, Morgan Bushe says he put “working-class heroes” in “an offbeat modern western,” but this calculated exercise feels overstocked with a checklist of quirky fallbacks. Losers bond and find dignity, notwithstanding a bad economy. 12:30 p.m. Oct. 19
‘The Great Buster’ (U.S.)
The career of Buster Keaton (1895-1966) is chronicled by Peter Bogdanovich, who directed the 1976 comedy “Nickelodeon” about a fictive silent-era director. Clips showcase this American auteur’s kinetic style in the 1920s, later compromised in sound films and TV spots denying him creative control. Werner Herzog lauds the “stone face” as “the essence of movies.” At Keaton’s acme, claims Quentin Tarantino, “It was cinema itself that became the joke.” Keaton once said, “I always want an audience to outguess me — then I double cross them.” 1 p.m. Oct. 19; 3:15 p.m. Oct. 21
After depicting Chechen refugees in Vienna, Sudabeh Mortezai sets her second drama in that city’s sex traffic scene. She casts first-timers to play African prostitutes who decorate their walls with magazine covers and empowering memes by Beyonce and Hillary Clinton. Joy (Joy Anwulika Alphonsus) trains a young arrival, then gets deported. Mortezai juxtaposes a juju rite in Nigeria with a bizarre St. Nicholas rite in snowy Austria. The business cycle is insidious. Exploited women turn into exploiters of other women. The filmmaker insists, however, that she is not exploiting her subjects on screen. 2 p.m. Oct. 19
‘At War’ (France)
For the third time, Stephane Brize casts the great Vincent Lindon — plus assorted non-professionals — for a primer on globalist warfare. French unionists strike against German owners of an auto parts factory. Lindon plays a labor representative facing disloyalty in the ranks and duplicity at the bargaining table. Never lionized as a leader, he ultimately martyrs himself. What’s most striking, so to speak, is the representation of pragmatics, whether for news cameras or face-to-face negotiations. “Fiction allows me into places that would often be impossible to access as a documentary-maker,” argues Brize. 5 p.m. Oct. 19
‘Hard Paint’ (Brazil)
NeonBoy sees that Boy25 copied his technique of daubing his body with Day-Glo paint when dancing solo in front of a laptop camera. They meet offline and start to co-perform for paying online fans. Marcio Reolon and Filipe Matzembacher co-direct this downer love story. A dance scholarship in Germany is one cause for a breakup. The other is the emotional debris after eye-gouging payback for gay-bashing forces a chemistry major to quit college. Dance therapy in the erotic economy is unworkable. 8 p.m. Oct. 19; 9:15 p.m. Oct 20
For more festival details, go to www.chicagofilmfestival.com.