The 53rd annual Chicago International Film Festival
is now up and running at the AMC River East 21, (322 E. Illinois) bringing the glamour of Cannes and Sundance to the Windy City with big name actors and directors, red carpet ceremonies and much more.

If you are following the fest you've probably heard about "Marshall," "Lady Bird" and Guillermo del Toro's "The Shape of Water."

All excellent. But there's a lot more.
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, C oatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA, Uruguay and Venezuela are all represented at this year's fest.

The 15 day festival offers tons of feature films, feature-length documentaries, films by first-time filmmakers, short subject films, U.S. Premieres, North American Premieres, Black Perspectives, LGBT films, After Dark series (horror films), industry days, educational films and special programming.

Why go? The festival is an opportunity to see many shows before they are released. It is also an opportunity to see and discover films that may be Oscar contenders or others that will never be released locally.
53rd Chicago International Film Fest: Red carpet, blue ribbon titles

Арт директор фестиваля о фильме "О, Люси!"

Mimi Plauche, festival artistic director

“What are the films that stayed with me, the ones I’ve been thinking about, the films that make the audience think about the world? Those are the films I look for when we’re programming the festival.

“One is in our New Directors Competition called ‘Life Guidance,’ an Austrian film by Ruth Mader. I’m generally not a science fiction fanatic, but this is sci-fi I really like, set in the near future in a society that looks like the world we know but full of these little details that catch you off-guard. The society we see is divided into two classes, the ‘top achievers’ and the ‘minimum recipients.’ There’s a top achiever who lives in a beautiful home with the perfect family, but one day he says something to his son that indicates he’s not completely happy. So they send in an agent from a firm called Life Guidance to optimize this man’s potential. It’s unexpectedly funny in places, and Mader’s filmmaking style is so powerful and controlled.

“My other pick is in our World Cinema program, a U.S./Japanese co-production called ‘Oh, Lucy!’ We had director Atsuko Hirayanagi’s short film here a few years ago, which won the audience award, and that was also called ‘Oh, Lucy!’ Now she’s expanded and recast it with these top Japanese actors. It’s about a middle-aged ‘office lady’ whose niece convinces her to to take a package of English conversation classes. Her teacher ends up being Josh Hartnett, and Hartnett’s character gets the students to feel comfortable by having them wear wigs, costumes and develop alter egos. This is how this woman becomes this other woman, Lucy. It gets crazier from there, and there’s both a dry wit and a poignancy to the film.” … story.html