A Preview of the 59th Chicago International Film Festival

Image courtesy of Cinema/Chicago

The 59th Chicago International Film Festival begins this coming week. Its many programs run from October 11th to the 22nd and are spread across the AMC NEWCITY 14, Music Box Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago History Museum, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art locations in addition to special pop-up screenings at the Hamilton Park Cultural Center in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood and Harrison Park in Pilsen. Festivities kick off with a Block Party outside the Music Box Theatre on Wednesday night the 11th. Film Obsessive writers Aqib Rasheed and Don Shanahan have been credentialed this year to cover the longest-running competitive film festival in North America.

The official banner of the 59th Chicago International Film Festival
Image courtesy of Cinema/Chicago

This year’s combined programs include 99 feature films and 58 shorts. Among them are three World Premieres, an International Premiere, 19 North American Premieres, and 19 U.S. Premieres, and showcases cinema from countries around the world. Minhail Baig’s We Grown Now, a poignant story of two young boys reveling in the freedoms and joys of friendship in Cabrini-Green in 1992 Chicago, has been set as the Opening Night film. On October 19th, the CIFF welcomes Oscar-winning Promising Young Woman filmmaker Emerald Fennell to receive the Festival’s Visionary Award as her new film Saltburn stands the the Festival Centerpiece. Wrapping up the event will be Jeff Nichols’ The Bikeriders with the director in attendance to receive the Artistic Achievement Award. 

In addition to those three films, other Special Presentations of the 59th Chicago International Film Festival include Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, David Fincher’s hitman comedy The Killer, fellow Netflix awards contender May December from director Todd Haynes, Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction, All of Us Strangers from Andrew Haigh, The Holdovers from Alexander Payne, The Boy and the Heron from animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, the Wim Wenders documentary Anselm,  the directorial debut of Chicago’s own Michael Shannon Eric Larue, and  Christos Nikou’s offbeat romance Fingernails.

Both Shannon and Nikou will be in-house to present their films. For Poor Things, award-winning costume designer Holly Waddington joins the Festival’s screening on Saturday, October 21st to receive the Tour de Force Award for her work on the film, and in recognition of a culmination of more than a decade of accomplishments on the screen as well as the stage. They are but three of many visiting creators and performers showing off their work at the 59th Chicago International Film Festival.

Carrying interest equal to the Special Presentation films are the Spotlight selections for this year’s festival. Twenty such films hold that regard including Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, Michel Franco’s Memory, NYAD starring Annette Bening and Jodie Foster, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Monster, 2023 Cannes Film Festival award winner Anatomy of a Fall, Dream Scenario featuring Nicolas Cage, The Promised Land from Nikolaj Arcel, and Steve McQueen’s documentary Occupied City among others. Other regular annual festival programs include Black Perspectives, Outlook, City & State, Women in Cinema, Snapshots, After Dark, and the three main competitions in the International, Documentary, and New Directors categories.

Tickets for any of the 99 films and 58 shorts are on sale now on the festival website. Streaming options can be found on the festival’s dedicated hub. Cinema/Chicago memberships are also available. For more information, visit the Festival’s how-to and FAQ pages or follow the events on social media below:


Twitter: @ChiFilmFest

Instagram: @ChiFilmFest

Hashtag: #ChiFilmFest

Written by Don Shanahan

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing here on Film Obsessive as the Editor-in-Chief and Content Supervisor for the film department. He also writes for his own website, Every Movie Has a Lesson. Don is one of the hosts of the Cinephile Hissy Fit Podcast on the Ruminations Radio Network and sponsored by Film Obsessive. As a school teacher by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Indie Critics and a voting member of the nationally-recognized Critics Choice Association, Online Film Critics Society, North American Film Critics Association, International Film Society Critics Association, Internet Film Critics Society, Online Film and TV Association, and the Celebrity Movie Awards.

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