Fifty-first Chicago International Film Festival - Mid Point Events

Friday evening, October 23, 2015, the midpoint of the Fifty-first Chicago International Film Festival was marked by several events.


Michael Moore thronged at the Red Carpet

The evening began with a red-carpet walk at AMC’s River East Theatre, 221 East Illinois Street, Chicago, by auteur Michael Moore and Festival Founder Michael Kutza, and other related dignitaries, followed by a showing of Moore’s most recent film after a six-year celluloid hiatus, “Where to Invade Next”. Subsequently, Moore along with Chaz Ebert, (widow of beloved Chicago film critic, and CEO of many companies that bear his name,) and holder of a vote in the choice of “The New Directors Awards” of the festival, held a question and answer session for the packed crowd.


Michael Moore accepting his award

Michael Moore, dressed as usual in dungarees, a hoodie, and a faded cap, appeared almost beautific as he answered questions by reporters, moviegoers, and accepted his award. When asked whether it’s true that he appears happier and less angry than in prior films and public appearances, Moore replied that, indeed, he was much happier in his personal life, but “angrier than ever” in his work!


Michael Moore is interviewed

Then the festivities and jury-chosen awards ceremony switched to the lovely Peninsula Hotel for cocktails. Hors d’oeuvres before the awards ceremony, interspersed with polite applause and delightful speeches commenced.


Michael Moore and Mike Kutza

Moore’s film, shown earlier in the week at a special press screening, and also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, will open in December. In general, however, the movie was reviewed with great praise. Among the comments included repeated remarks of the lighter, more optimistic and patriotic timbre. The premise involves Moore being sent by the Pentagon to a great many different countries, all of which appear to have out-done America in terms of providing excellence in education and various public services; he plants an American flag in an unlikely place in each country. Most reviewers commented on the pro-American feeling evinced by Moore, and the fact that the improvements  made in the other venues were actually American in spirit: indeed, in outdoing America, they extoll our values, taking them where we logically intended them to go. When questioned on these points, Moore remarked that 78% of Americans would agree with the direction America ought to go, and the proof is that we currently have a (black) President whose middle name is Hussein! Moore postulated that the vast majority of Americans know what is wrong with our country, and that the remaining 22%, right wing extremists, can’t be reached in any event!


Michael Moore

Moore won the Founder’s Award, given to that film which, across all categories, captures the spirit of the Chicago International Film Festival for “its unique and innovative approach to the art of the moving image”. One of his inimitable remarks upon this achievement was, “Chicago is the Capital of the Midwest and I just won the Founder’s Award here”.


Michael Moore and Mike Kutza

Films around the world competed for the Gold and Silver Hugo Awards, with many of the delighted winners speaking through interpreters.


Michael Moore, interviewed

In the International film Competition, the Gold Hugo for Best Film went to “A Childhood”, France, Director:Phillippe Claudel. The Gold Hugo in the New Directors Competition went to “Underground Fragrance”, China, Director:Pengfei Song.The Gold Hugo in the Documentary Competition was awarded to “Volta a Terra”, Portugal and Switzerland,  Director: Joao Pedro Placido. The Gold Q Hugo Award, from the Out-Look program, which honors films exhibiting new perspectives on identity and sexuality, was bestowed on “Carol”, from the USA, directed by Todd Haynes. For short films, the Gold Hugo for live action, was awarded to “Leidi", Colombia and UK, director:  Simon Mesa Soto.


Crowd watching the movie

There were many other awards bestowed, including gold and silver plaques, silver  Hugos, certificates of merit, a gold plaque special mention, the Chicago Plaque, and various special certificates of merit, including an entire category, INTERCOM, which honors corporate-sponsored, educational and branded films. Finally, special mention must be made  here of  The Roger Ebert Award, begun in 2014, and given each year" to an emergent filmmaker whose fresh work comprises and embraces’ a fresh and uncompromising vision”.


Poster for Michael Moore's film

All of Chicago and the international film world is grateful for this years magnificent films, expert behind-the-scenes as well as before-the-camera work, and looks forward eaferly to next year’s event!


All Moore photos are courtesy of Timothy M Schmidt

More information on the Chicago International Film Festival



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