By Elaine Hedwood Bowen, M.S.J.
The 54th Chicago International Film Festival offers films for all interests from around the world during its run from October 10 through October 21, 2018, at the AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois St. Here is a snapshot of a couple of selected films, two of which I was able to pre-screen.
One film from the Midwest’s first and only full-service independent film and television distributor, Cow Lamp Films, is called “Olympia” and is included in the Festival’s City & State, Black Perspectives and World Cinema programs. “Olympia” screens for the public October 15, 16 and 19.
“Olympia” is the latest from Chicago’s growing film community and speaks to college grads who have huge student loan debt yet make life choices differently than previous generations. When do they stop living for others and live for themselves?
This is a contemporary story about a young Black woman who, on the cusp of her 30th birthday, finds herself at a major crossroad in her life. It stars McKenzie Chinn (NBC’s Chicago Med) and Charles Andrew Gardner (a Steppenwolf actor) and is hailed as “a refreshing look at the intimacy, nurturing and hard choices inherent to all relationships, but seen so rarely onscreen from African-Americans” (Los Angeles Film Festival 2018).
Director Gregory Dixon captures the unique human qualities of the city’s culturally diverse friendships and incorporates 30-somethings lifestyles into a new perspective of city life today.
“Everyone has their own idea of what it means to become an adult. Perhaps today more than ever, we question both the journey and the destination. Many of our traditional milestones for reaching adulthood – starting a stable career, buying a home – have become more and more difficult to achieve. Others – marriage, having one job for 30 years – aren’t as desirable as they used to be,” says Dixon.
I was able to screen this film, and it is a delightful journey through the lives of the main characters, while providing great scenes from across the city that we all love—although often we may find many things about this great metropolis that are displeasing.
On the other side of the globe, I was able to screen “Duelles” or “Mother’s Instinct,” which is set in 1960s Brussels. Alfred Hitchcock references abound in this deliciously designed psychological thriller. Suburban wives Alice and Céline live side by side in identical bourgeois houses, functioning almost like two halves of a single family. They are best friends, as are their sons, Theo and Maxime—until one day a tragic accident breaks the perfect harmony between the clans, and paranoia and distrust take hold. Directed by Olivier Masset-Depasse and starring Veerle Baetens and Anne Coesens, “Duelles” will keep you on the edge of your seat, while filling you with compassion and despair around the events that unfold. The film will screen October 15, 17 and 20.
The Good Girls
(Las niñas bien)
“A well-judged balance between dark humor and an in-depth portrait of a woman battling to maintain the smooth appearance of a perfect life” –Variety.
Mexico City 1982. Affluent and arrogant, queen bee Sofia (Ilse Salas) rules over the city’s social elite—until the family business falls victim to the national economic crisis. Even as checks bounce and lunch invitations vanish, Sofia maintains her haughty airs. How far will she go to reclaim her place? This incisive satire, as stylish and sharp as its protagonist, brilliantly lampoons the lifestyles of the rich and not-so-famous .“The Good Girls” is directed by Alejandra Marquez Abella, screens October 17 and 18, and stars Ilse Salas, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Paulina Gaitán and Johanna Murillo.
The 54th Chicago International Film Festival is North America’s longest-running com- petitive film festival and runs from and features more than 150 films, with a vast diversity of offerings, with numerous competitive categories and several highlight programs such
as Black Perspectives, Cinemas of the Americas, International Comedy, Spotlight: Italy, Women in Cinema, Out-Look, After Dark and the City & State program (showcasing films made in Chicago and throughout Illinois.
Films will be screened at AMC River East, located at 322 E. Illinois St. (with the exception of some special presentations). Discounted parking is available at the venue. For more information about general ticket and Gala presentation prices and festival passes, visit www.chicagofilmfestival.com or call 312-332-FILM (3456).