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44th Chicago International Film Festival Wrap-Up

A wrap-up from Michael Kutza, the founder and artistic director, of the Chicago International Film Festival ....


What more can a city ask for? This year more than ever, the Chicago International Film Festival opened your eyes to things you just don’t see every day. In our 44 years, we have been committed to taking you across the globe to discover some of the most exciting cinema the world has to offer. The new voices, new ideas, new storytellers, new stars. I feel we have the perfect mix of star-studded red carpet premieres and cutting-edge world cinema for serious filmgoers.

The two weeks of the Chicago Festival are still packed full of once-in-a-lifetime events where you will see things that may never hit the Chicago screens again! And, of course, our audiences get the opportunity to ask questions and hear the stories behind the films when we have the directors and actors at the screenings for question-and-answer sessions.

Our film selection team screened more than 600 feature films before selecting the final 116 features in this year’s festival. More than 500 documentaries were screened to program the 16 that we screened, and more than 1,750 short films were screened as well to create a program of 39 shorts. And did I mention 20 features are by female directors and 40 in total are first feature films—one of our specialties. Discovering new directors has always been our goal, and we’ve had great successes in the past showing the first films of Martin Scorsese, Mike Leigh, Peter Weir, Gregory Nava…the list goes on and on. This year, our International Feature Film Competition jury awarded our top honor, the Gold Hugo, to the first feature film by Steve McQueen, Hunger. (UK) CHECK OUT DE SALVO'S HUNGER REVIEW HERE.

As important as all the preparation that goes into selecting films for the festival is, I think our partnerships with educational institutions in Chicago have been incredibly important over the past years. Columbia College, the Chicago Public Schools, and the new Flashpoint Academy are all instrumental in our success. Many of our visiting directors from around the globe spend time at each of the Chicago educational institutions we partner with, teaching the varied groups of students while here in Chicago and helping us to educate thousands of young people through the art of film.

It’s always encouraging to have the continued financial support from the various foundations, corporations, and the State of Illinois tourism sectors that believe in our goal of bringing a world-class event to Chicago and Illinois.

I always take pride in seeing the Festival take shape. This year, the film selection has never been better, our Festival Village concept did create a stronger sense of community and was very popular, and the audiences and critics have enthusiastically welcomed this year’s films and directors. So, now it’s time to think ahead to next October and our big 45th anniversary.

Michael Kutza

Founder & Artistic Director