The 52nd Chicago International Film Festival Red Carpet Review- The Festival is Underway

The 52nd Chicago International Film Festival beckons, Photo:B. Keer

It is inspiring that Michael Kutza, Founder and Artistic Director-Cinema/Chicago and the International Film Festival, has graced Chicago with outstanding film festivals for 52 years. According to Wikipedia “The Chicago International Film Festival is an annual film festival held every fall. Founded in 1964 by Michael Kutza, it is the longest-running competitive film festival in North America.” This year promises to be outstanding.  When asked about the theme this year being musicals, he explained that when the musical La La Land became available to the festival in June, he chose musicals as the festival’s them, which he says could be the theme every year. Mimi Plauché, Chicago International Film Festival programming director wasn’t convinced, because she wasn’t sure that enough musicals could be brought in.   Interestingly, once La La Land came, many others followed from all over the world.  Plauché wasn’t surprised to have an entry from Bollywood but those from Finland and the Israeli/Palestinian films surprised her.

Mimi Plauché, Chicago International Film Festival programming director, Photo: courtesy Cinema/Chicago Timothy M. Schmidt


Up the escalator to the Festival, Photo: B. Keer

Kutza mentioned that his favorite movies include Citizen Kane, Singing in the Rain, films by Ingmar Bergman and Charlie Chaplin, well represented this year. The role that Geraldine Chaplin is taking in this year’s festival is very important on many levels. The festival points out that, “One of the best parts of the Chicago International Film Festival is the opportunity to celebrate the filmmakers, producers, actors and actresses who create the movies we showcase every year. This year is no exception, as we welcome Hollywood legend Geraldine Chaplin for a once-in-a-lifetime tribute to the Silver Hugo winning actress and daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill.”


Michael Kutza, Photo: Yassi Jalinous

In addition to a special Festival Tribute on October 14, Geraldine Chaplin was named the President of the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival's International Feature Competition jury. As such, she leads a renowned group of film professionals and personalities in the selection of this year's winner of the Gold Hugo, the Festival's top honor. Also on this year's International Feature Competition jury are filmmakers Juan Taratuto (It's Not You, It's Me), Yulene Olaizola León (Shakespeare and Victor Hugo's Intimacies), and David Verbeek (R U THERE) and actor/producer Chin Han (The Dark Knight). Extended biographies for members of this year's impressive International Feature Competition jury are below; the International Feature Competition is made possible with the support of Penelope R. and Robert Steiner. More information about the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival

Geraldine Chaplin, the lady of the moment,Photo: courtesy Cinema/Chicago Timothy M. Schmidt

David Verbeek, filmaker and jury member, Photo: Yassi Jalinous


On October 15th, the Essanay Studios – the historic early film studio in the heart of Chicago – is offering an evening of cocktails, hors ‘deouvres and a conversation with Chaplin, star of Doctor Zhivago, Nashville, The Age of Innocence, Bolero, and Talk to Her. Founder and artistic director Michael Kutza joins Chaplin in conversation as she receives the Festival’s Career Achievement Award.”


The Essanay Stuios where Charlie Chaplin made 15 movies including The Tramp is now St. Augustine College. Its main meeting hall is the Charlie Chaplin Auditorium where Geraldine Chaplin is to be honored on October 15th, though Chaplin was only at the studio for one year. Michael Kutza ‘s first Chicago International Film Festival was also located at the Essanay Studios.


The excitment mounts, Photo: B. Keer

Claude Lelouche, filmmaker, spoke about his interest in revisiting his earlier film. A Man and A Woman, with his current film UN+UNE and finds that relationships between men and women remain the same while so many things change.


Claude Lelouche, filmaker, Photo:Yassi Jalinous



The Festival honors international documentary filmmaking with a jury comprised of film curator Livia Bloom (Icarus Films), filmmaker Dan Rybicky (Almost There) and art-house distributor Blandine Mercier-McGovern (Cinema Guild). The Documentary Competition is sponsored by SundanceNow Doc Club. Those first and second feature films included in the New Directors Competition (sponsored by Columbia College Chicago and the John and Jacolyn Bucksbaum Family Foundation) will be reviewed and awarded by jury members Patricio Castilla, cinematographer and author, Helen du Toit, independent producer, and Nick Allen, assistant editor and film critic at The New Directors Competition jury will also present the Roger Ebert Award, given to a filmmaker with a fresh and uncompromising vision and whose work allows audiences to enter into and empathize with, the lives of all types of people.



The range of films and activities will keep Chicagoans and visitors to Chicago involved and rewarded until October 27th.  This is a gift to movie buffs and the industry from Chicago.



Approaching the AMC River East, home of the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival, Photo: B. Keer








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