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Lordy, Lordy! The Film Fest is 40!

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 5, 2004 4:13PM

It’s the event that Chicago film geeks and star watchers wait all year for: The Chicago International Film Festival. This year the fest celebrates its 40th Anniversary with an expanded program featuring more galas and Hip Film Fest Gear!
historical retrospectives as well as films that please both your mom and your college film professor. Opening Night is this Thursday, October 7th as the film Kinsey starring Liam Neeson lights up across the Chicago Theatre.

Screenings are held at various days and times through October 21st at three venues across the city: AMC River East 21, Landmark Century City Cinema, and Thorne Auditorium on Northwestern’s downtown campus. Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone, or at in person at the Festival’s office or Festival stores located inside the Clark and Diversey or Michigan Avenue Border’s Books. Chicagoist recommends buying those tickets in person to keep The Man from sticking you with fees but make sure you do it early, as screenings tend to sell out quickly.

Then there’s the matter of what to see. With 111 features and 54 short films it will be impossible for you to see everything. Over the next couple weeks, Chicagoist will be highlighting various aspects of the Fest with an eye towards can’t-miss fare (Christopher Walken!) as well as other works you might enjoy. For a more exhaustive list, check out the Fest’s website but some upcoming highlights appear after the jump.

If you like…

Movies Featuring Chicago: Outing Riley. More people saw Pete Jones’s onscreen hissy fits on the Project Greenlight series than sat through the director’s first film Stolen Summer. Though schmaltzy, Jones proved he could write small, character-driven films and returns with another here with a film about a man who “comes out” to his Irish-Catholic family and the hilarity that ensues. Featuring local radio personalities Stave Dahl and Buzz Kilman as well as Chicago comedian Jeff Garlin.

Seeing Famous People In Person: Kinsey presented by director Bill Condon,Being Julia with Annette Bening who receives a lifetime achievement award for her work as the Columbia Pictures icon, Finding Neverland with director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball), Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis at the closing night’s screening of The Polar Express, and the Black Perspectives Homecoming Celebration featuring local African-American actors Irma P. Hall (The Ladykillers), Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle) and Harry J. Lennix (the last two Matrix movies). Of course, Chicagoist plans on doing whatever it takes to see Around The Bend as The Continental himself, Mr. Christopher Walken, will be on hand to discuss his role in the film as a man who reappears in his son’s life after a 30 year absence. Bring your own cham-pan-ya.

Movies About Road Trips: Sideways from Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt) or the French film Aaltra. The Fest’s website says of the Sideways plot: “Pinot Noir, despair, and Xanax don’t mix well.” Oh the hell they don’t! We’re there! As for Aaltra, imagine if Harold and Kumar were Belgian and run over by tractors halfway through their trek. And instead of going to White Castle they were on their way to Helsinki. Got it? Well that’s the idea.

People Talking About Movies: There are three panel discussions this year: one on the role of film criticism in world cinema, another on how to be an independent filmmaker in Illinois, and the last on how to release an independent movie in the U.S. Of course, the irony is that two of the three panel experts are from companies that have the backing of major studios. So I guess Tip #1 would be Have Lots Of Money.

Plus, there are late night screenings and flicks from honored filmmakers at past Fests. Use the Fest’s website to create your own schedule so you don’t miss anything.