World premiere of ‘Belushi’ to open the 56th CIFF ushering in five nights of drive-in screeings


By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

The Festival’s hybrid format expands access to national audiences and presents Regina King’s directorial debut – ‘One Night In Miami’

Artistic Director Mimi Plauché recently announced the hybrid format, with both virtual and drive-in screenings, for the 56th Chicago International Film Festival, to take place Wednesday, October 14 – Sunday, October 25, 2020, with a full slate of more than 50 feature films and nine short film programs. The Opening Night film will be the World Premiere of the SHOWTIME® Documentary Films feature documentary “Belushi,” chronicling the celebrated career and untimely death of native son and The Second City alumnus John Belushi, Wednesday, October 14, at 6:00 CST at Pilsen’s ChiTown Movies drive-in theater, 2343 S. Throop St.

A feature documentary from award-winning filmmaker R.J. Cutler is about the too-short life of John Belushi, the once-in-a-generation talent who captured the hearts and funny bones of audiences worldwide. Told using previously unheard audiotapes, this film examines Belushi’s extraordinary life in the words of his collaborators, friends, and family, including Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Penny Marshall, Lorne Michaels, Carrie Fisher, Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, Jane Curtin, Ivan Reitman and his high school sweetheart and later wife Judy Belushi.

JOHN BELUSHI’S DOCUMENTARY promises to shed juicy details about his life and death due to drug abuse.

But as his fame grew, so did his demons, and not even Judy could save him from the drug use that would eventually take his life. “Belushi,” a SHOWTIME Documentary Films production, will premiere on SHOWTIME on November 22, 2020.

Concurrent with the live drive-in screening, a virtual screening of “Belushi” will also be available to stream on October 14. Tickets are on sale now at

Award-winning actress Regina King is the talk of the film circuit, after her successful directorial debut of a feature film “One Night in Miami.” The film will be available via a drive-in screening and through the Festival’s virtual streaming offerings.

FOUR ACTORS REIMAGINE what happened in 1964 after Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston.

Adapted from the award-winning play of the same name, “One Night in Miami’ is a fictional account of the incredible night in 1964 when underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall—Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).

The Chicago International Film Festival embraces the current moment with its 2020 edition, retaining its signature screening slate of international features and shorts in and out of competition, along with celebrity and director Q&As and special events. Virtual screenings and events will be ticketed, and, for the first time in 2020, many will be accessible to national audiences via the Festival’s streaming platform. Virtual movies, not currently available on commercial streaming services, will be streamed by the Festival and viewable from the safety and comfort of the home via the Festival’s streaming site, and apps for Roku and Apple TV.

With the 2020 tagline “Film Can Take You There” the 2020 Festival, created by award-winning advertising agency Ogilvy, celebrates cinema’s power to transport audiences anywhere they want to go, be it a far-flung land or a state of mind. The virtual festival experience brings film lovers together, defying boundaries, restrictions and quarantines.

“This year’s tagline perfectly embodies the spirit of the 56th edition of our Festival. This October, we’re bringing together a community of film lovers – in Chicago, from across the Midwest, and around the country – to experience international and independent cinema together, even while apart,” says Chicago International Film Festival Managing Director Vivian Teng. “The shared Festival experience not only connects us to one another but also to the greater world, as the films will take audiences anywhere they want to go, whether it be geographically or emotionally.”

Other films include:

“Ship; A Visual Poem” {Short Film}; Terrance Daye; United States. A young boy wrestles with his sense of self on the day of his cousin’s funeral.

BAD HAIR TELLS the story of a hair weave that appears to be possessed.

“Bad-Hair;” Justin Simien; United States; Drive-in. In this hilarious horror satire set in 1989, an ambitious young woman gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television, but her flourishing career comes at a cost when she realizes that her new hairstyle might have a mind of its own.

“Finding Yingying;” Jiayan “Jenny” Shi; United States; Streaming. In 2017, Chinese student Yingying Zhang went missing just weeks after arriving at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Former classmate Jiayan “Jenny” Shi investigates the mystery surrounding Yingying’s disappearance and its devastating impact on her family and her community.

MAMA GLORIA FROM Chicago’s South Side is celebrated for her activism.

“Mama Gloria;” Luchina Fisher; United States; Streaming. Meet Mama Gloria. Chicago’s Black transgender icon Gloria Allen emerged from the South Side’s drag ball culture in the 1960s to trail blaze a path for transgender youth to follow.

With positivity and polish, she overcame prejudice and traumatic violence to become a proud leader in her community.

The Chicago International Film Festival is North America’s longest-running competitive film festival.

From dramas and thrillers to documentaries and comedies, the Festival presents a vast diversity of offerings, including numerous competitive categories and several highlight programs such as Black Perspectives, Cinemas of the Americas, International Comedy, Women in Cinema, Out-Look, After Dark and the City & State program (showcasing films made in Chicago and throughout Illinois.)

More information about tickets and schedules can be found at

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