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written by Kyle Sanders, reporting from the 58th Chicago International Film Festival
Well folks, it's time to roll the red carpet back up and chuck it into its respective corner storage unit. The Chicago International Film Festival has said "Au revoir!" and turned off the marquee lights after two weeks of presenting us with 72 narrative films, 20 documentary features, and 56 short films from 53 countries. There was laughter, tears, and Agatha all along (thanks to a visit from Career Achievement Award winner Kathyrn Hahn)!
Here's a wrap-up with a few more reviewed films included in the mix!:
This year CIFF kicked off its festival with a block party in front of the Music Box Theater. With the inclusion of local food vendors and a red-carpet runway, I hope they make this an annual event--I need the validation of winning their movie trivia game!
King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones
The last documentary I had the chance to screen was King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones. Directed by his granddaughter, Harriet Marin Jones, this doc details the life of one of the most powerful Chicagoans of the Twentieth Century: an African-American power broker who was the brawn and the brains behind Policy, an illegal racketeering syndicate that would evolve into what we now call the Lottery. This eye-opening film uncovered the remarkable life of an overlooked legend, who stood toe-to-toe with Al Capone and rubbed elbows with the likes of Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington.
The second-to-last film with Chicago roots I reviewed was Rounding, from local filmmaker Alex Thompson (Saint Frances). After a traumatic experience from his previous post, a medical resident transfers to a rural hospital only to have his past catch up to him. He encounters a new patient whose symptoms seem suspect, and his pursuit of truth and grasp on reality becomes increasingly questioned by his mentor and peers in this psychological thriller.
The final film reviewed comes from the directorial debut of Chicago native Marian Mathias, entitled Runner. In this slow-burning drama that borrows the pacing and stark imagery of Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven, this coming-of-age drama is about a young woman leaving her Missouri farming community to bury her father in his Illinoisan hometown. She crosses paths with a young man she feels an immediate connection with, and their relationship builds amongst the foreboding dusty roads and wheatfields of the vast Midwest.
Every year there's a film I request a screener for that never materializes. This year, that title goes to International Competitor Corsage (featuring Vicky Krieps, who won the Silver Hugo for Best Performance). Guess I'll have to cross my fingers it gets a U.S. release date!
Speaking of winners, this year's Gold Hugo went to Denmark's Godland, a film I didn't get the chance to review. The Silver Hugo Jury Award went to Belgium's Close, another film I didn't get to review. You can just chalk that up to "win some, lose some" I guess, there's always the chance I'll get it right the next year!
Overall, I watched 14 out of 148 titles. Impressive, considering I started covering the festival by reviewing just two films (I don't know how anyone could honestly watch every film--it's a pipe dream too daunting for even the most dedicated of film enthusiasts!).
It'll be interesting to see which of these films will receive theatrical release dates in the U.S. Last year, two films I reviewed--Drive My Car and The Worst Person in the World--not only received national acclaim but Oscar nominations in some major categories as well. I can't wait to see which films make the cut this year!
Until then movie fans, I'll be seeing you at the movies!
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