Reminiscent of a miniature and recurring World’s Fair, the Chicago International Film Festival represents the culmination of artistic achievements in film from around the world. Known as the premier venue for debuting what would have otherwise been hidden gems, the festival focuses on showcasing works by international and new, burgeoning artists. Boasting Martin Scorsese, Mike Leigh, Peter Weir, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and many others in its premieres, the festival is entering its 47th season.
The celebration of film from all nations and genres began in 1964 by filmmaker and graphic artist Michael Kutza in an attempt to show movies to the public which were not hot off the Hollywood conveyor belt. It began small and was attended by a few celebrities, like Bette Davis and Stanley Kramer, who were there to receive lifetime achievement awards. It has grown to become a must-see event for those wishing to discover the next big star. Awards are given in numerous categories, not unlike the Academy Awards. Hollywood executives show up to find and sign the creators of breakout films, whether they are actors, directors, or cinematographers.
The Chicago International Film Festival is still growing and has become a major presence on the international festival circuit. In addition to showcasing foreign talent, Hollywood recognizes it as a place to debut upcoming features. Among the season’s two blockbusters, Melancholia and My Week With Marilyn, is David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method. Starring Cronenberg’s recent muse Viggo Mortensen, the film tells the tale of Sigmund Freud (Mortensen), his relationship with Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), and the psychological analysis of the unstable Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). Another event to look forward to is the Cuban film Juan of the Dead, a rare parody of a parody that is already getting some fantastic reviews.
The Chicago International Film Festival is a high-profile event and one of the few opportunities to catch rare foreign features. Expect to see celebrities waiting in line for the next screening or purchasing their favorite concession stand candy. Try to catch some press events and get in on the next piece of Hollywood hearsay, or try to muscle your way into one of the sure-to-be-many after-parties. Don’t forget to silence your cell phone: Chicago is screening and the world is watching.