‘Memoria’ wins top award at Chicago film festival

Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a School of the Art Institute grad, says he’s ‘overjoyed’ by the prize.

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Tilda Swinton stars in “Memoria,” winner of the top prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.


The 57th Chicago International Film Festival on Friday gave its top award — the Gold Hugo in its International Competition — to “Memoria” by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Tilda Swinton stars as a woman mystified by “a rumble from the core of the earth” and seeks its meaning in the Colombian jungle.

The festival announced this year’s awards on its YouTube channel. Artistic director Mimi Plauché hosted the live-streaming of jurors and winners.

“We are overjoyed,” Weerasethakul, a former School of the Art Institute of Chicago grad student, said via Zoom. “Chicago was like my second home where I discovered another kind of cinema in the classroom, at Chicago Filmmakers, the Film Center, Facets and the Music Box and of course at the Chicago International Film Festival.” He also saluted the projectionists here.


“Memoria” director Apichatpong Weerasethakul speaks at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 5.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Japanese director Ryuske Hamaguchi won two awards: a Silver Hugo Jury Prize for “Drive My Car” and a Silver Q-Hugo (honoring LGBTQ+ films) for “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” in the OutLook Competition.

Other Gold Hugo awards include “Brother’s Keeper” in the New Directors Competition and “Skal” in the International Documentary Competition. “Great Freedom” earned a Gold Q-Hugo in the Outlook Competition.

The Chicago Award for films in the City & State program was bestowed on Margaret Byrne’s “Any Given Day,” a documentary on Cook County mental health issues. The recognition comes with two in-kind donations of film production services valued at $45,000.

Two Silver Hugos went to “Nobody Has to Know”: Bouli Lanners for Best Male Performance and Michelle Fairley for Best Female Performance.

Other Silver Hugos went to “Babi Tar. Context” in the International Documentary Competition, “107 Mothers” for Best Director, “Amparo” in the New Directors category, “What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?” for Best Screenplay, and “The Worst Person in the World” for Best Cinematography.


“Drive My Car” is one of two award winners by Japanese director Ryuske Hamaguchi.

Janus Films

“Memoria” screens again on Saturday at 1 p.m. at AMC River East 21. “Drive My Car” screens there at 2 p.m. “Any Given Day” screens at 12:15 p.m.

Five Best of Fest screenings are scheduled for Sunday night, the festival’s last. Titles and times will be announced at chicagofilmfestival.com

Billing itself as “North America’s longest-running competitive film festival,” the annual event is presented by the nonprofit Cinema/Chicago.

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