Oct 12, 2022 - Things to Do

Chicago International Film Festival returns in person with new tweaks

Photo of a man sitting at a dinner table.

"King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones" tells the story of Chicago's "Policy King." Courtesy of Abelart Productions

The 58th Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) begins tonight, launching a program of 90 feature films and 60 shorts over the next 12 days.

Why it matters: After two pandemic years that relied heavily on streaming, the festival is returning to mostly in-person screenings at venues that now include the Chicago History Museum and two park district locations.

  • Plus, organizers ditched the fancy opening night gala for an inclusive free block party tonight in front of the Music Box Theatre on Southport.

What they're saying: "We really wanted everyone to feel welcome," CIFF artistic director Mimi Plauche tells Axios. "Whether you're traveling from other neighborhoods or live down the street, we want everyone to come and celebrate film in Chicago."

Hollywood highlights: This year's "Special Presentation" hot tickets include:

  • Darren Aronofsky's "The Whale," starring Brendan Fraser.
  • Sarah Polley's "Women Talking."
  • Sam Mendes' "Empire of Light."

Local highlights: Several films spotlight Chicago topics, filmmakers and people, including:

  • Oscar-nominated documentarian Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") presents "A Compassionate Spy" about a Manhattan Project researcher who passed secrets to the Soviets in an effort to save humanity.
  • "King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones" tells the story of one of the most powerful Chicagoans of the 20th century, who ran the city's "policy" game in the '30s and '40s.
  • "All Jacked Up and Full of Worms" follows a local hotel maintenance man who discovers a stash of hallucinogenic worms.

Five more local films to check out

  • Alex Thompson presents "Rounding," a psychological thriller about a medical resident working at a rural Illinois hospital.
  • Chicago filmmaker Alex Heller writes, stars and directs "The Year Between," a comedy about returning to suburban Chicago after being kicked out of college.
  • "The Big Payback" follows first-year Evanston alder Robin Rue Simmons as she fights for groundbreaking reparations legislation. Directed by Erika Alexander ("John Lewis: Good Trouble") and Whitney Dow ("Two Towns of Jasper").
  • "Call Jane" stars Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver as Chicago women who ran the city's underground abortion network in the late '60s.
  • Carey Mulligan stars in "She Said" as former Tribune reporter Megan Twohey, who broke the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse story along with Jodi Kantor of the New York Times.

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