CIFF2023 Kicks Off With ChiFilmFest Opening Night Block Party

Image courtesy of Cinema/Chicago

The 59th Chicago International Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday, October 11th with the ChiFilmFest Opening Night Block Party. The event runs from 5:00pm to 10:00pm outside Chicago’s famed Music Box Theatre along the 3700 block of North Southport Avenue. For the second year in a row, the block party is free to attend and open to the public, giving fans a chance to watch luminaries walk the red carpet before the Opening Night film We Grown Now and Opening Night Late Night feature Departing Seniors, two movies featuring hometown Chicago talent.

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

Festivities at this year’s Block Party include live music by Chicago artists, Chicago-made short films shown on outdoor screens, booths featuring local vendors, and food trucks and stands offering a variety of cuisine from local businesses. The live music stage features performances from Chicago artists including ESSO Afrojam Funk, Living Thing, Omar Coleman & West Side Soul, and Senya, playing live sets throughout the event’s duration.

A filmmaker walks the red carpet at the Chicago International Film Festival
Image courtesy of Cinema/Chicago

On an exclusive video wall, highlights from the Festival’s City & State program will be shown, including the delightfully idiosyncratic Variations on a Them which sees a couple literally splitting into multiple versions of themselves, and an animated journey through a 1960s perceptual art-inspired experience called Photosynthesis, and Ethan Lim: Cambodian Futures which presents a chef with a mission to share and elevate the native cuisine.

Along with City & State selections, highlights of CineYouth’s past festivals celebrating the work of young directors between 14 and 22 years old will also be presented. These special displays include delicious food and bakeries on Chicago’s South Side are featured in the celebratory Taste of 75th, two astronauts race to plant their flag on the moon in Space Race, the color blue is taking over a woman’s life in Blue, a teenage girl confronting the trials of adolescence through her dreams of becoming an athlete in the animated short Startline, single parents get the spotlight in Soul Provider, and the animated musical Earth’s Second Moon following parents whose baby seems to never stop growing.

The 59th Chicago International Film Festival runs October 11-22 with film screenings and programs presented at venues across the city including AMC NEWCITY 14, the Music Box Theatre, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Chicago History Museum, the Hamilton Park Cultural Center in Englewood, Harrison Park in Pilsen, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Film Obsessive staff writers and film critics Aqib Rasheed and Don Shanahan are covering the many program slate offerings.

Tickets for Opening Night are on sale now at


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 and his own website Every Movie Has a Lesson. He contributes as a Content Supervisor and Assistant Editor on Film Obsessive. Don is also one of the hosts of the 25YL Media-backed Cinephile Hissy Fit Podcast on the Ruminations Radio Network. 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, Hollywood Creative Alliance, Online Film Critics Society, North American Film Critics Association, International Film Society Critics Association, Internet Film Critics Society, Independent Film Critics of America, Online Film and TV Association, and the Celebrity Movie Awards.

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