2008 Chicago International Film Festival

CIFF%20edit.JPGBy Marilyn Ferdinand

It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone and that I’m back in training for another Chicago International Film Festival. It’s a time that I relish even as I agonize over how I’m going to see everything I want to see and get it all written up each day.

Things have progressed since I covered my first CIFF. I was automatically included on the press list and have been given additional privileges to attend special events. Thus, I hope to be able to give you a lot more than just film reviews. Because I’m on the press list, I also got advance notice of screeners that are available and when and where I can watch them. This is unbelievably good news for me, as it will help me create a more flexible, less hectic schedule and give film buffs in Chicago plenty of advance notice about films they might want to see. I saw my first screener yesterday, and will post on it on Sunday. In keeping with the Halloween season and the mania to focus on horror that has seized my buddies in the film blogosphere, the first screener I watched was a vampire tale from Sweden.

There are a number of buzzworthy directors with films at the CIFF, including Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Tokyo Sonata), Arnaud Desplechin (A Christmas Tale), Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky), animator Bill Plympton (Idiots and Angels), Andrzej Wajda (Katyn), and Johnny To (Sparrow). Major-label films Synecdoche, New York, The Brothers Bloom, The Wrestler, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno will also be making an appearance. Darren Aronofsky, Rachel Wiesz, and Mike Leigh are expected to attend their respective film screenings. Some of my favorite directors with few-and-far-between films, Jan Troell, Terence Davies, and Jerzy Skolimowski, also will be showing at the CIFF.

Perhaps a bit on the downside, 23% of the feature films on display are from the United States, with only one film from sub-Saharan Africa (South Africa), Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Romania—all sources of the best films I saw from last year’s festival and other festivals. But the CIFF has always had its ups and downs, and there is still the likelihood of making some great discoveries along with the familiar and already-recognized films.

I hope you’ll keep an eye on the offerings I lay before you and enjoy my discoveries with me. Now it’s on with the show.l

  • Pat spoke:
    3rd/10/2008 to 12:20 pm

    Marilyn –
    I’m hoping to get to at least some of the weekend screenings. “A Christmas Tale” and “Happy Go Lucky” are at the top of my list.
    I remember reading awhile back that another Mathieu Almaric film – a thriller called “Heartbeat Detector” that Andrew O’Hehir at Salon raved about – was supposed to be showing, too, but I haven’t seen anything about it lately. Is the full schedule avaiable yet?

  • Marilyn spoke:
    3rd/10/2008 to 1:13 pm

    Heartbeat Detector ran at last year’s CIFF. It got a commercial run at the Music Box and a few showings at Siskel Center, too. You’ll probably be able to catch it on DVD shortly.

  • Rod spoke:
    4th/10/2008 to 4:40 am

    While you’re attending that prestigious affair, I will of course be curating the Lithgow International Film Festival, which largely involves me, a microwave pizza, and ten hours of The Lord of the Rings…

  • Marilyn spoke:
    4th/10/2008 to 7:16 am

    Hee hee.

  • Piper spoke:
    4th/10/2008 to 10:20 am

    I’m jealous.
    Just got back from Chicago and saw all the banners hanging.
    Have a good time.

  • Jonathan Lapper spoke:
    4th/10/2008 to 4:15 pm

    How can I get a free press pass? I want screeners too! The AFI always has special events and festivals. Maybe I could convince them that have a personal movie blog makes me a member of the press. Worth a try. I look forward to your updates with great anticipation.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    4th/10/2008 to 6:36 pm

    Jonathan – I got myself affiliated with a daily news blog, but I think unaffiliated blogs with a proven track record could probably swing it, too. I’ve just made out my schedule – 26 films, no days off once the festival starts, but I’m taking it easy. No late-night films, only 2 films at the max per day. And what’s the thanks I get? My friggin’ editor at the Beachwood doesn’t even answer my e-mails. Grrrr, Argghh.

  • Peter Nellhaus spoke:
    6th/10/2008 to 12:13 am

    Could they make the website any slower? I was hoping to look at the list of film but could not get past page four. Based on advance word, recommend The Amazing Truth about Queen Raquela and The Good, the Bad and the Weird.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    6th/10/2008 to 7:57 am

    I hadn’t planned to see either of those, though the hubby is going to see The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. Maybe I’ll have to rethink my plans – jeeze, this is tough each year.

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