First Look at the 57th Annual Chicago International Film Festival: ‘The French Dispatch’ and ‘King Richard’, plus ‘Belfast’ with a Tribute to Sir Kenneth Branagh

Cinephiles and storytellers, rejoice! Chicago’s premier celebration of cinema, The Chicago International Film Festival, is back for its 57th event. Running Oct. 13-24, the festival offers moviegoers the ultimate Chicago film experience, including premiere screenings in theaters and online, post-screening artist discussions, and tributes to legendary filmmakers.

The festival will open with Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, a star-studded film full of his signature style, and will close with Will Smith’s King Richard, a biopic about Serena and Venus Williams’ father. Other highlights include the festival’s centerpiece, Mike Mills’ C’mon C’mon, a powerfully resonant and hopeful portrait of our times, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Gabby Hoffman.

The French Dispatch. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Special presentations include a screening of Belfast, with a tribute and Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Academy Award©-nominated Sir Kenneth Branagh, and an Artistic Achievement Award honoring actor-turned-director Rebecca Hall, with a screening of her film Passing, starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. Other Special Presentations and Gala Presentations include screenings of the much-anticipated films The Last Duel, Spencer and Dune, and special films highlighting Women in Cinema, Cinema of the Americas and Black Perspectives, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Festival presentations will take place virtually and at venues across the city, including at AMC River East 21, the Music Box Theatre, the Gene Siskel Film Center, and special drive-in presentations at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen.

Tickets are on sale now for virtual and in-theater screenings. For in-person events, guests must show proof of vaccination or present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result within 72 hours to attend. Masks will be required for all staff, volunteers, filmmakers, and audience members in the theater, regardless of vaccination status. The updated list of Covid-19 safety protocols can be found on the Festival’s website.

Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson appear in “Passing” by Rebecca Hall, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Edu Grau.

Beyond the 12-day film festival, Cinema/Chicago, the presenting organization of the Chicago International Film Festival, enriches the community through programming devoted to international and independent cinema. Learn how you can support their mission and Education Programs year-round.

Other Festival highlights include:

  • The Chicago premiere of Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, a story about a charismatic rancher who inspires fear and awe in those around him, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
  • Punch 9 for Harold Washington, a documentary chronicling the captivating rise and enduring legacy of Chicago’s first African American Mayor, Harold Washington.
  • A drive-in screening of Antlers, from horror maestro Guillermo del Toro, starring Keri Russell as a a middle-school teacher who becomes embroiled with a student. whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with a legendary ancestral creature.
  • Multiple competitions, including New Directors, International Feature and International Documentary.
  • Outlook screenings, with LGBTQ+ focused-films competing for the Festival’s Q Hugo Award.
  • City & State screenings, all completing for the Festival’s Chicago Award, which showcase the year’s best stories and brightest talents from the city.
  • Industry Days, Oct. 14 – 17, featuring speakers to inspire and illuminate the film and entertainment community.

See the full festival schedule, including a searchable film list, on the Chicago International Film Festival’s website.

Make It Better Media Group is a proud sponsor of The Chicago International Film Festival.


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Macaire Douglas

Macaire Douglas lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to prevent the illegal abandonment of newborns nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,600 newborns have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving homes.