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The CHIRP Blog

KSanders writesKyle Sanders Goes to the 57th Annual Chicago International Film Festival

by Kyle Sanders

There I was, sitting in an AMC theater surrounded by my fellow film nerds--er, um, critics--settling down, getting comfortable, offering up some friendly chit-chat, when a moment we were all too familiar with took place: the dimming of the lights.

We were quickly advised to turn off our cell phones as the large screen lit up before us, large letters foreshadowing the table of contents of a made up magazine.

The distinctive voice of Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston boomed through the theater, relaying to us the history behind The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun. It's sole mission: to "bring the world to Kansas."

The critics around me chuckled at a montage of distinctively edited clips gussied up in Wes Anderson fashion, no doubt familiar with the inner workings of a professional yet frenzied publication. It dawned on me just what a perfect start this was to the next two weeks of my life: The French Dispatch brings the world to Kansas, and the Chicago International Film Festival brings the world of cinema to me.

And so begins the 57th Annual Chicago International Film Festival! This is my eighth year attending, and it's always exciting to see what new titles from around the globe are competing for international acclaim and attention.

Over eighty films will be screening this year, from gripping dramas to light hearted comedies, from comprehensive documentaries eager to inform to midnight movies ready to inspire a cult following.

There are planned tributes scheduled for acclaimed actor and director Kenneth Branagh, who will be receiving this year's Lifetime Achievement Award, and actor-turned-director Rebecca Hall, receiving an award for Artistic Achievement.

And this year's roster is readily available to all filmgoers too: you can have a traditional big screen movie experience seeing films at AMC River East, the Music Box Theater, Gene Siskel Film Center, and Parkland Ballroom, or see a film against the Chicago skyline at the ChiTown Movies Drive-in in Pilsen.

And if the Covid pandemic still has you feeling cautious, you can stream films from home. Whatever capacity you enjoy watching films, CIFF has you covered!

The festival kicks off with Wes Anderson's latest film, The French Dispatch. After the death of its beloved Kansas-born editor, Arthur Howitzer Jr., the staff of The French Dispatch gathers together to write his obituary.

What follows is a collection of featured articles from the magazine, categorized by "Local Color," "Arts and Artists," "Politics and Poetry," and "Tastes and Smells." Each of these writers have been supported and encouraged by Howitzer Jr., and each provides a story that's perfectly crafted, in equal parts funny and moving, that represent the richly detailed world of the magazine Anderson creates in perfectly eccentric form. Look for my full review of the film when it opens nationwide October 22nd.

If The French Dispatch is just an inkling to what comes next, then this year's Chicago International Film Festival is sure to be filled with many other remarkable, cinematic achievements from all over the world. And I can't wait to share more of my experiences with you throughout the festival's run! 

The Chicago International Film Festival runs October 13 - 24. For more information, check out and follow @chifilmfest for other updates!

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Categorized: Movies

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