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TOP 7 Reasons To Be Excited for the 2013 Chicago Critics Film Festival

We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.

This weekend (April 12-14) is the first annual Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF), an amazing time for moviegoers to catch screenings of unreleased favorites from earlier festivals Cannes, Sundance, and SXSW. The event is organized by the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA, of which I am a proud member), and will take place at the MUVICO Rosemont 18 theater right by Chicago's O'Hare airport.

Chicago-Critics-Film-Festival-2013_event_mainThe festival begins this Friday night (April 12) with a screening of Stories We Tell, by Take This Waltz writer/director Sarah Polley. Continuing into Sunday night, with William Friedkin's Sorcerer, the CCFF will feature screenings of numerous new CFCA favorites.

Included in this year's lineup are: The Spectacular Now, directed by James Ponsoldt and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, The Kings of Summer starring Nick Offerman, Black Rock starring and directed by Katie Aselton of FX's "The League," All the Boys Love Mandy Lane directed by Warm Bodies helmer Jonathan Levine, and other favorites. Oh, and William Friedkin (director of The Exorcist, The French Connection, and Killer Joe) will be in person to sign copies of his new memoir, and to screen a 35mm print of Sorcerer. On top of this, the CCFF will also feature screenings of The Dirties, When I Walk, The Force Within Us, Grow Up, Tony Phillips, two shorts programs, and more. On top of this, a wealthy amount of these screenings will be accompanied by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. Click HERE for the full schedule.

Sound amazing? That's absolutely right. Click HERE to buy your tickets for the festival.

And while there are numerous events and filmgoing opportunities to anticipate for this weekend, here are what I personally feel are the largest reasons to be thrilled about this upcoming event. Movie lovers, join us for an incredible weekend. Here are the TOP 7 Reasons To Be Excited for the 2013 Chicago Critics Film Festival ...

7. Opening Night Screening of 'Stories We Tell' - I can't officially tell you how incredibly good this documentary is, so I will just say that it is true this film may or may not be an excellent way to kick off this festival. This documentary also may or may not be definitely worth discovering first before it opens next month, and with writer/director Sarah Polley on-hand to discuss her wild true story. 'Stories We Tell' is screening Friday at 7pm.

6. Finally, I Will Get To See 'Black Rock' - Since her compelling monogamy-challenging directorial debut The Freebie in 2010, I have eagerly been anticipating where Katie Aselton would be going next with her unique storytelling talents. Having established herself as a talented TV actress with "The League," she seems poised to provide a special voice in indie film, with the difficult questions she raised in The Freebie, and now with the promising territory that lays ahead with the mysterious Black Rock. Starring Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth and Aselton, the script is written by Aselton's husband Mark Duplass (Pete writing a horror movie?!) and is produced by Leave Me Like You Found Me director Adele Romanski. The curiosity has held me over for months, and now I'm hoping for this film to be a festival highlight. 'Black Rock' screens at 10pm on Saturday.

5. A Lost Directorial Debut Is Unearthed - One of the most promising directors working today, Jonathan Levine, has a film from 2006 that has not been released (despite his success with The Wackness, 50/50, and Warm Bodies). However, this mysterious film, titled All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, will screen at CCFF as the last show on Saturday night. For those who get to see this film, there will be no more speculation as to whether this movie has justly been buried, or is a lost treasure. Find out if there is something to love about this buried debut when it screens Saturday night. 'All The Boys Love Mandy Lane' screens at 11pm on Saturday.

4.  Catching Up with Sundance Favorite 'The Spectacular Now' - Last year director James Ponsoldt released Smashed, the Mary Elizabeth Winstead indie vehicle that brought out a wonderful performance from the underrated Hollywood talent. Perhaps such chops are bound to be overlooked no more with The Spectacular Now, Ponsoldt's newest film and a favorite at the most recent Sundance Film Festival. Winstead is joined by a very promising cast, which includes Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Greenberg), Brie Larson, Bob Odenkirk, and Miles Teller. 'The Spectacular Now' is screening Sunday at 5pm.

3. Q&A with Adele Romanski for 'Leave Me Like You Found Me' - There are going to be many Q&A's during the CCFF, but only ONE (1) will be lead by yours truly. On Saturday, I will be publicly interviewing writer/director Adele Romanski about her great film, and then helping pick waving hands as to what audience members can speak. This is going to be a career high for me, if not a life high, if not a peak moment for my entire family for the next 200 years, so don't miss out. (And don't miss out on our free GIVEAWAY! We've got free passes for this event while they last! Click here.) 'Leave Me Like You Found Me' is screening Saturday at 4:30pm.

2. William Friedkin Returns with Real Film - Amongst a great list of guests that will be appearing at the festival, perhaps the biggest name involved is William Friedkin, AKA director of The Exorcist, The French Connection, and most recently, Killer Joe. Friedkin will be signing copies of his memoir "The Friedkin Connection," and then will screen his film Sorcerer on a classic 35mm print (straight from the Paramount Pictures Archives). This experience promises to be an unforgettable one; a movie shown on film as opposed to digital, as followed up with by a Q&A with one of America's most championed directors. 'Sorcerer' screens at 7:30pm on Sunday.

1. The Ability to Tell Your Friends, "Yeah, Chicago film critics shared that one with me five months ago" - This type of bragging right comes intact with many film festivals, but here it's with a higher guarantee of quality. These are movies picked specifically by CFCA critics to anticipate the adoration they'll experience when they do get a release; these films are chosen because we genuinely love these movies. Here is a festival that isn't just going to clue in viewers as to what's arriving in the future, but what movies are great as well. With this lineup, the selections are thoroughly guaranteed fresh and with personal approval, the selections picked by those who always seek to honor Chicago's continuing title as the best city for film criticism.

Tickets are on sale for the 2013 Chicago Critics Film Festival HERE.

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TSR Giveaway: FREE Passes to 'Leave Me Like You Found Me' Q&A Screening at Chicago's CCFF with Writer/Director Adele Romanski