Although it means well, Ali’s Wedding is one of the weaker films selected for the two-week festival. Directed by Jeffrey Walker from a script he co-wrote with Osamah Sami, the film stars Sami, Helana Sawires, Don Hany, and Ryan Corr. The film is based on a true story and after watching the large majority of the film (it wasn’t offered as a screener link, only a P&I screening), it may have been for the best…"Chicago Film Festival: Ali’s Wedding"
Scaffolding is one of four Israeli films to be shown during the Chicago International Film Festival. Written and directed by Matan Yair, the Israeli film stars Asher Lax, Ami Smolartchik, Jacob Cohen, and Keren Berger. Lax makes his professional and cinematic debut as an actor and takes home an Ophir Award nomination in the process. Asher (Lax) is a troublemaker and he’s always been this way in school. Despite the rage and violence that Asher…"Chicago Film Festival: Scaffolding"
The Tonya Harding biopic, I, Tonya, could bring Allison Janney an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the figure skater’s abusive mother. Directed by Craig Gillespie from a screenplay by Steven Rogers, the biopic stars Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Paul Walter Hauser, Julianne Nicholson, Caitlin Carver, Bojana Novakovic and Bobby Cannavale. Interspersed with documentary-style footage, the film gives off a humorous vibe as we revisit one of the biggest events…"Chicago Film Festival: I, Tonya"
Andy Serkis’ feature directorial debut, Breathe, is a film that is emotionally exhausting to watch and it is one that would have best been served as a documentary rather than what could easily be described as an expensive home movie. Serkis directs from a screenplay written by William Nicholson. Breathe stars Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, and Hugh Bonneville. The filmmakers were smart to focus on the love story in the film’s first few…"Breathe: An Emotionally Exhausting Film"
Depicting two biracial relationships, Rogers Park is one of many Chicago-set films to premiere during the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival. Directed by Kyle Henry from a screenplay written by Carlos Treviño, the Chicago-set film stars Antoine McKay, Sara Sevigny, Jonny Mars, and Christine Horn. Rogers Park is a family affair. The film follows Zeke (McKay) and his wife, Grace (Sevigny), and Grace’s brother, Chris (Mars), and his partner, Deena (Horn). Both couples are dealing with…"Chicago Film Festival: Rogers Park"
Slamdance Film Festival selection Supergirl comes to Chicago for one night only at the Arclight Cinemas as a part of the Slamdance Cinema Club. Directed by Jessie Auritt, we get a glimpse into the life of a very unique pre-teen, Naomi Kutin. She’s not like other Orthodox girls her age. One wouldn’t expect to see a powerlifter when they look at Naomi, let alone someone who could lift three times her body weight. The girl from New Jersey…"Slamdance: Supergirl comes to Chicago"
The Experimental City documents the fascinating story behind a failed domed metropolis that was to be located in Minnesota. Chad Freidrichs, who directs the documentary, does a fantastic job in bringing history–even if forgotten to many–to life. The city was the brainchild of scientist and University of Minnesota dean Athelstan Spilhaus. In watching, I was reminded of Walt Disney’s vision for Epcot as being a city of tomorrow. Just as the Florida project never came to fruition, the…"Chicago Film Festival: The Experimental City"
The South Side-focused Blueprint is one of many Chicago-focused films playing at the Chicago International Film Festival. Directed by Daryl Wein from a screenplay that was co-written with Jerod Haynes, the film spotlights the Chicago Southside. Chicago’s Southside is one that does not have a great reputation because of the gang violence that overwhelms the news day in and day out. Haynes stars as Jerod, a daycare teacher. He loses a close friend and from…"Chicago Film Festival: Blueprint"
Sam Pollard’s documentary, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me is the first major documentary to spotlight the life of the late Rat Pack member. The documentary features interviews with Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Novak, among others, including Nixon staffers such as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. We are treated to never-before seen photos as well as numerous clips from Davis’ career. For someone such as Davis, it’s beyond crazy…"Chicago Film Festival – Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me"
From writer-director Stephen Cone, Princess Cyd adds to a nice collection of films showing that the Chicago filmmaking scene is as vibrant as ever. The film is also important in that the coming-of-age film adds to the LGBTQ voices in media. Written and directed by Cone, the film stars Rebecca Spence, Jessie Pinnick, Malic White, James Vincent Meredith, with Matthew Quattrocki and Tyler Ross. The younger actress makes her feature film debut and rises to the…"Chicago Film Festival: Princess Cyd"