The 51st Chicago International Film Festival Preview by Sarah Adamson

PrintBackground, Action, Rolling…the 51st Chicago International Film Festival Oct 15-29, 2015 Offers a Wide Array of Films

There’s a crisp coolness in the air, leaves are turning burnt orange and scarlet red—the sure signs of Fall. Wait; hold on to your hat or your film fest badge because it also means it’s time for the annual Chicago International Film Festival! Celebrating its 51st year, Sarah’s Backstage Pass is pleased to have three entertainment journalists covering the fest.

It looks like the line-up this year follows the CIFF’s custom of bringing movie buffs intriguing film selections along with a special focus. The Spotlight: Architecture + Space + Design program is comprised of international selections from Tokyo to Milan to Sao Paolo, showcasing eleven new feature films, all centering on architecture, including two North American premieres and four U.S. premieres.

‘Infinite Happiness’ a documentary by Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine which documents their life for about a month inside the “8 House” designed by the architect Bjarke Ingels in Copenhagen. Photo Credit: Beka & Partners

Films on architecture: Concrete Love – The Bohm Family, Why A Film About Michele De Lucchi?, The Infinite Happiness, Obra, Invention, Under Electric Clouds.

‘Helmut Jahn: an Architect’s Life’ Centers on his world-renowned progressive architecture and constant innovation. Helmut Jahn has designed 16 buildings in Illinois. Photo Credit: Helmut Jahn

A discussion with architect Helmut Jahn on Sat, October 17, 2015, begins at 6:00 pm at the AMC River East 21 theater. Jahn designed the famous United Airlines Terminal in Chicago. The program will cover his forty-nine-year career in architecture along with his unique vision. Viewers will see film clips from modern and classic films that showcase his designs and reflect his philosophy.

Joe Turturro stars in ‘Mia Madre’ opening night of CIFF 2015. Photo Credit: Alchemy Films

Opening night, Thursday, October 15, 2015, is always exciting with Red Carpet arrivals beginning at 5:30 pm. The lights will shine brightly for the Chicago premiere of Nanni Moretti’s, Mia Madre starring John Turturro, Margherita Buy, Nanni Moretti, and Giulia Lazzarini at the Auditorium Theater with a 6:30 pm presentation. Christopher Abbott (James White); director Josh Mond (James White); and Chaz Ebert (Publisher & Contributor of as well as French New Wave film director and professor at the European Graduate School Agnès Varda are expected. Additionally, in celebration of this year’s Festival Spotlight: Architecture + Space + Design section, world-renowned architect Helmut Jahn will also be in attendance.

Be sure to check back after the festival, as we’ll have a recap of the CIFF that will include the opening night film Mia Madre.

The festival’s main competition films are 45 Years, Mountains May Depart, A Very Ordinary Citizen, Body, The Club.

‘Banana Pancakes and the Children of Sticky Rice’ When backpackers visit a small village in remote northern Laos in search of a traditional experience, the inhabitants of the village discover the attractions of the West. Photo Credit: Daan Veldhuizen


Here’s a look at the CIFF Schedule Book with an at- a- glance feature that allow for speedy selection:

Comedy: Clever – p. 17 Funny Girl – p. 20, A Perfect Day – p. 29 Stinking Heaven – p. 31,The Thin Yellow Line – p. 32, Very Semi-Serious – p. 34, Walking Distance – p. 35,We Are Francesco – p. 35.

Drama: The 33 – p. 12 Brooklyn – p. 15 Carol – p. 16 Dheepan – p. 18, I Am Michael – p. 23 I Smile Back – p. 23 James White – p. 24, Macbeth – p. 26.

Thriller: Bite – p. 15 Ludo – p. 26, Other Madnesses – p. 29 The Red Spider – p. 30, Tag – p. 32 They Look Like People – p. 32, Three Days in September – p. 32 Why Me? – p. 35.

Food: The Birth of Saké – p. 14 Breakfast at Ina’s – p. 15, For Grace – p. 20 Open Tables – p. 28 Sweet Bean – p. 31.

There’s also a Sexy category, but we’ll let you look that one up on your own.

‘Breakfast at Ina’s’ Ina Pinkney may be retired, but fans of Chicago’s “Breakfast Queen” can soon get another helping of her work, albeit via film. Photo Credit: Daisy May Films

A Red Carpet event is planned for “I Smile Back” staring Sarah Silverman. Our staff photographer Bradley Todd will be snapping photos and will report back.

Sarah Silverman and Josh Charles star in ‘I Smile Back’ a drama film. Photo Credit: Broad Green Pictures

Here’s what we plan to cover along with films that looks interesting during the festival: I Smile Back, Open Tables, A Light Beneath Their Feet, The Club, You Can’t Save Yourself Alone, The Middle Distance, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, Bite, Creative Control, A Perfect Day, All About Them, Carol, Hector, Youth, How to Win Enemies, Milano, For Grace, You Can’t Save Yourself Alone, Orphans of Eldorado, Schneider VS Bax, Women he’s Undressed, We are Francesco, The Surprise, The Middle Distance, Hitchcock/Truffaut, Valley of Love, Breakfast at Ina’s, Banana’s and Pancakes the Children of Sticky Rice, Road to La Paz, The Birth of Saké, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Spotlight, and Helmut Jahn: An Architect’s File.

‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ A documentary. Filmmakers discuss how Francois Truffaut’s 1966 book “Cinema According to Hitchcock” influenced their work. Photo Credit: Artline Films

The Festival will close with Spotlight, directed by Academy Award®-nominee Tom McCarthy, and featuring the all-star cast of Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci. This film is creating Oscar buzz!

‘Spotlight’ tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church. Photo Credit: Open Road Films

Stay tuned to Sarah’s Backstage Pass for event coverage, interviews with talent, star sightings, Q&A sessions, and more. Follow our social media coverage of the festival. Got questions? You can find us on Facebook on our Film Page “Sarah’s Backstage Pass”  Twitter: @SarahsBackstage          

Find out more on the CIFF’s website:

‘Youth’ centers on two longtime friends vacationing in the Swiss Alps. Oscar winning actor Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel star. Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight

Sarah Knight Adamson© October 14, 2015