By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
The opening of the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival was a tremendous success, attended by hundreds who saw Reginald Hudlin’s film “Marshall.” In attendance were the film’s stars Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Jussie Smollett and Marina Squerciati, as well as Hudlin, producer Paula Wagner and John Marshall, the son of Justice Thurgood Marshall.
“Marshall” is based on a true incident in the life of Thurgood Marshall, when he was a young lawyer, long before his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. As the nation teeters on the brink of World War II, a nearly bankrupt NAACP sends Marshall to conservative Connecticut to defend a Black chauffeur against his wealthy socialite employer in a sexual assault and attempted murder trial that quickly became tabloid fodder. In need of a high profile victory but muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall is partnered with Samuel Friedman, a young Jewish lawyer who has never tried a case. Marshall and Friedman struggle against a hostile storm of fear and prejudice, driven to discover the truth in the sensationalized trial, which helped set the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement to come. “We are so grateful to Paula for allowing us to open with such a powerful and important film,” said Festival Founder and President Michael Kutza. “The film was tremendously popular with our guests, and it was a great way to launch this year’s Festival.”
“The Replacement” is also screening at the festival, with the last screening set for October 25. “The Replacement” is a cautionary sci-fi film in which the first clone has been elected President while his original is stuck in a blue collar cleaning gig wondering how it all went so wrong. The film is incredibly timely with our current state of politics and the speed at which technology is progressing; and is 100 percent local with an all-Chicago cast and crew. This film sheds light on a society gone off kilter with clones of people all over, and the original “models” left wondering how to rein it all in. This short features the off kilter situations of a new president and their effect on the citizens. Sounds really familiar!
The Chicago International Film Festival runs until October 26. For more information, visit https://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/.
Facets’ 34th Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.
It runs from October 27 through November 5, 2017, and offers a great lineup of films for children of all ages. Films are primarily being screened at Facets, located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., but there are also other locations, which include the Davis Theater (Lincoln Square), Music Box Theatre (Lakeview), Wilmette Theatre (Wilmette), Alliance Française (Gold Coast), Cervantes Institute (River North), University of Chicago: Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts (Hyde Park) and The Gorton Community Center (Lake Forest).
Facets’ Chicago International Children’s Film Festival presents the best, most innovative film and educational experiences for kids, teens, families, students, and industry professionals. “Kids grow up with quick and easy access to films and video content, but what exactly are they taking in?” asks Mary Visconti, Facets Executive Director. “They are absorbing commercial content that not only dumbs messaging down to the lowest common denominator, but is also infused with advertising that urges them to consume even more. Facets offers young people an alternative.”
The Festival is operated by Facets, a non-profit that connects more than 30,000 people annually to independent ideas through transformative film experiences.
Some highlights include: “Swagger.” A poetic documentary about eleven middle-schoolers and teens growing up in one of the most challenging areas in the outskirts of Paris.
Both down-to-earth and otherworldly, the film reveals the wit, ingenuity, and tenacity of the teens. Not just another film about the challenges of life in “la banlieue,” the straight-forward interviews are interwoven with more lyrical fantasy sequences. One character says, “French people wouldn’t want to live here.” Another is even more blunt, “Blacks and Arabs are not treated the same as the French.” Despite their difficult lives, they have dreams and ambition, and nobody can take that from them. With music by JB Dunckel (Air).
“Follow the Leaders.” The characters in this block of films are excited about new friends and experiences.
In one film, Sam really wants to be the mayor of her housing complex. But there’s more to being a leader than being popular. Being able to listen and represent the community is really what counts. In the last film, B Boy must learn to include Little J in order to adjust to life in a temporarily blended family. Playing at the Logan Center.
The full Festival schedule, ticketing, field trip bookings, and Family Passes are available now at www.facets.org/cicff.