Better Makers: Chicago International Film Festival Honors Filmmaking, Raises Nearly $35K for Cinema/Chicago

The Chicago International Film Festival celebrated its 58th year with a hybrid event running October 12- 23, 2022. The 12-day fest raised $34,818 for its presenting organization, Cinema/Chicago, a nonprofit enriching the community through year-round programming devoted to international and independent cinema. 

As the longest-running competitive film festival in North America, the Chicago International Film Festival is a celebration of cinema complete with film premieres, tributes and signature red-carpet events. Internationally renowned for its excellence in programming, the Chicago International Film Festival allows attendees to experience innovative works by first-time filmmakers and celebrated masters, plus previews of the season’s top award contenders. 

The 58th year of the Chicago International Film Festival attracted 33,349 patrons to enjoy 150 films from 53 countries. Attendees could enjoy these films at 178 screenings across six Chicago venues; AMC River East 21, Music Box Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago History Museum, Hamilton Park, and Austin Town Hall.  

This year had a more significant focus on accessibility. Viewers could enjoy select films in-person and online with open, closed and live caption options. Those unable to attend the screenings in-person could access 19 movies and nine short programs through the festival’s streaming platform. Feature films were available in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. While shorts were available across the U.S., attracting 7,575 people across 25 states, who collectively streamed more than 5,050 times.  

Audience member asks a question during a festival Q&A | Photo courtesy of Sean Su

Honoring the films, filmmakers and artists  

The film festival successfully highlighted and showcased international and independent films from new and established directors. More than 200 special guests arrived in person, including 123 filmmakers available for Q&As, tributes and conversations. A few noteworthy directors in attendance included Darren Aronofsky, Steve James, Josh Alexander, J.D. Dillard, Lila Neugebauer, Rodrigo García, Mary McCarthy, Daniel Goldhaber and Christopher Burke. 

The festival gave four prestigious awards throughout the event to honor select cast and crew from the fest’s films. The Career Achievement Award went to Emmy-nominated actress Kathryn Hahn.  Senegalese-American actress Anna Diop received the Rising Star award for her unforgettable  performance in the thriller Nanny. The Artistic Achievement Award went to Jonathan Majors for his  portrayal of Jesse Brown in Devotion. Cinematographer Luc Montpellier and director Sarah Polley earned The Visionary Award for collaborating on four film projects, including this year’s Women Talking.  

The night also welcomed the subject of Loudmouth, Al Sharpton, and the subjects of No Ordinary  Campaign, Sandra Abrevaya, and Brian Wallach. Those attending the in-person Q&As were also treated to panelists Valerie Jarret from the Obama Foundation and Tania Simmocelli from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, with moderator American journalist Katie Couric. 

Festival filmmakers: (left to right) Director Fabio Colonna; Festival Programmer Raul Benitez and Amir George; Director Landon LaRue; Director Tara Westwood; Director Mara Tamkovich; Director Donald Conley; Director Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan; Director Katrine Brocks; and Producer Pernille Tornøe | Photo courtesy of Barry Brecheisen

A special thanks to sponsors, partners and supporters  

The festival wouldn’t be possible without The 58th Chicago International Film Festival’s sponsors. Major sponsors were Citi and Xfinity. Additional sponsors were Adobe, Baker Tilly, CineCity Studios, Cinespace Studios, Conagra, Dark Matter Coffee, IPA, Light Iron, Panavision, Periscope Post & Audio, Poema, SAGindie, and William Blair. The festival also received significant support from the Robert & Penelope Family Foundation, John and Jacolyn Bucksbaum Family Foundation, and Paul and Ellen Gignilliat. Additional grant support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events

Chicago International Film Festival would also like to thank its official partners, Ogilvy, Acacia Consulting Group and Caption Consulting. Additional supporters are Ambassador Chicago, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Park District, Gene Siskel Film Center, Music Box Theatre, Chicago Film Office, Illinois Film Office, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, Cinecittà, Consulate General of Canada, Canada Now, Consulate General of Italy, Italian Cultural Institute, German Film Office, Goethe-Institut, Choose  Chicago, Lakeview Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce, Camera Ambassador, Chicago Palestine FF,  Cinelease, CMP, IFA Chicago, Film Independent, Revolution Brewing, Steppenwolf, and The Second City. Media partners of the Chicago International Film Festival are CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, Make It Better Media Group, NCM, WBBM, WTTW, and WXRT.

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Jessica Braun Gervais is a Chicago-based freelance writer specializing in health, wellness, and fitness. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from Columbia College and has written content for various health and wellness institutions. Jessica Braun’s passion for wellness comes from her life as an elite athlete competing in Muay Thai kickboxing competitions across the country. In addition to sharing her expertise through writing, Jessica Braun also works as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. When she’s not writing or training, Jessica Braun enjoys reading historical fiction novels, discovering new coffee shops, and cuddling with her cattle dog, Brady.

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