THE CHICAGO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
announces final wave of titles for the
CHICAGO CRITICS FILM FESTIVAL
MAY 20-26, 2016
THE MUSIC BOX THEATRE
3733 North Southport
Chicago, IL 60013
Festival favorites starring John Travolta, Ethan Hawke, Tatiana Maslany, David Byrne, Ellen Page and Adam Scott to have their Chicago premieres
The Chicago Critics Film Festival announces the final wave of titles screening as part of this year's event. The first film festival to be created and curated entirely by a film critics association, this year's lineup will include the latest works from such acclaimed directors as Ira Sachs, Ti West, Alice Winocour, Werner Herzog, The Ross Brothers, John Michael McDonagh and Patricia Rozema and stars like John Travolta, Ethan Hawke, Tatiana Maslany, Alexander Skarsgard, Michael Pena, Ellen Page, Karen Gillan, Evan Rachel Wood, Adam Scott, David Byrne, Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate, all of which will be making their local debuts. The festival will run May 20-26, 2016 and will be held once again at Chicago's historic Music Box Theatre. Passes are now on sale at http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/collections/CCFF2016
In addition to the films, a number of filmmakers and actors will be on hand to introduce the screenings and participate in on-stage Q&A sessions afterwards. As previously announced, actor Craig Robinson (“The Office,” “This is the End”) and writer/director Chad Hartigan (“This is Martin Bonner”) are scheduled to appear on behalf of the festival’s Opening Night selection, “Morris from America.” Actor Adam Pally (“Happy Endings”), who appeared at last year’s festival with “Night Owls,” will return with the indie comedy “Joshy.” Acclaimed indie filmmakers Ira Sachs (“Love is Strange”) and Ti West (“The Innkeepers”) will present their latest efforts, “Little Men” and “In a Valley of Violence.” Actor Martin Starr, director Logan Kibens and screenwriter Sharon Greene will attend the Closing Night presentation of their film, the locally-shot “Operator.” More guests to be announced.
Created by the Chicago Film Critics Association in 2013, the festival offers a selection of films comprised of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a wide variety of filmmakers ranging from award winners to talented newcomers chosen by members of the organization, the only current example of a major film critics group hosting its own festival. Like the seven previously announced titles, these titles come from around the world and offer viewers an eclectic array of film covering a wide variety of styles and genres that will offer something unique for moviegoers.
Having already announced an initial slate of seven additional films and two programs of shorts, the CCFF is proud to announce that the following titles will be a part of this year's festival lineup:
American Fable: In this Illinois-shot thriller set during the 1980s, an 11-year-old girl (Peyton Kennedy) is torn between doing the right thing and loyalty to her beloved father when she makes a shocking discovery inside the silo of her family’s failing farm. Writer-director Anne Hamilton and co-producer Kishori Rajan are currently scheduled to appear with the film.
Another Evil: In what could be described as a darkly funny cross between “Paranormal Activity” and “The Cable Guy,” a modern artist discovers a ghost haunting his family’s vacation home and employs an “industrial-grade exorcist” in order to rid themselves of the spirit. As it turns out, the paranormal investigator just might prove to be more terrifying to him and his loved ones than the actual ghost.
Contemporary Color: When art rock icon David Byrne was asked by a color guard to use one of his songs as part of his performance, it inspired him to put together a project in which a group of artists (including St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado and Byrne himself) would come up with new songs that they would perform as live accompaniments to ten color guard troupes in a 2015 show put on at the Barclays Center. This documentary from Bill and Turner Ross (who made the wonderful “45365”) offers viewers a look at the resulting performances and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how it all came together.
Dark Night: Loosely inspired by the horrific real-life movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Lafayette, Louisiana, this controversial drama, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, follows the lives of a seemingly disparate group of residents of Sarasota, Florida whose lives intersect at a movie theater that becomes the latest tragic result of America’s obsession with guns and inability to grapple with the problem of mental illness.
Demon: Uninvited guests at a wedding can always be a horror but that is especially true when they are of the supernatural kind. That is illustrated in this update of the Jewish legend of the dybbuk by late filmmaker Marcin Wrona in which a bridegroom finds himself possessed by a malevolent spirit while in the middle of his own wedding celebration.
Disorder: In this tense psychological drama from Alice Winocour (who directed “Augustine” and wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated “Mustang”), Matthias Schoenaerts plays a former soldier suffering from PTSD who is hired to serve as the bodyguard for the wife and child of a rich Lebanese businessman living in Maryland. Although the setting seems peaceful enough, the soldier sees threats everywhere but is he just more alert than everyone else or is the real danger closer than even he thinks?
First Girl I Loved: In the latest film from writer/director Kerem Sanga (“The Young Kieslowski”), 17-year-old Anne (Dylan Gelula) has fallen in love with the most popular girl in her high school (Brianna Hildebrand, better known to you as Negasonic Teenage Warhead from “Deadpool”). Of course, the course of true love rarely runs smooth and when she confesses to her best friend (Mateo Arias)—who has secretly nursed a long-standing crush on her—he does everything he can mess it up.
The Fits: In one of the more talked-about entries at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, this drama focuses on an 11-year-old tomboy who becomes fascinated with a dance team that she sees working out at the gym. After she joins up and struggles to fit in with them, things grow mysterious when the other member begin to succumb to an unexplained outbreak of violent fits and fainting spells.
In a Valley of Violence: John Travolta makes his first appearance in a western in this bloody saga about a mysterious stranger (Ethan Hawke) who vows revenge on several residents of a town, including the local marshal (Travolta) after they do something horrible to his only friend. Ti West, who has become a big name in horror circles in recent years thanks to films like “House of the Devil,” “The Innkeepers” and “The Sacrament,” is scheduled to appear to present the film, which marks his first crack at the western genre as well.
Into the Forest: Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood star in this drama about a pair of sisters living with their father in a remote house in the woods whose bucolic lives are upended when the electricity goes out seemingly everywhere one day with no explanation and never comes back. When tragedy leaves them to fend for themselves, they do what they can to survive the dangers of a world teetering ever closer to apocalypse.
Joshy: A large cast of up-and-coming performers, including Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Alex Ross Perry, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Lauren Graham, Jenny Slate, Joe Swanberg, Kris Swanberg and Nick Kroll drives this comedy from Jeff Beana (“Life Without Beth”) about a man who uses what was supposed to be the weekend of his bachelor party as an opportunity to reconnect with some of his old friends. Pally is scheduled to appear at the screening.
Little Men: Ira Sachs, whose last film was the acclaimed “Love is Strange,” returns with this drama about two teenage boys who strike up a friendship that is threatened when their parents become involved in a dispute over the renting of a dress shop in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Sachs will be on hand to introduce the film.
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World: For his latest documentary, the great Werner Herzog turns to the Internet to examine it from the history of its early days to speculations as to where it is heading and what that means for us all. Along the way, he interviews programmers, hackers and ordinary people whose lives have been changed by its advent—not always for the better—and leaves viewers both wary and intrigued by the possibilities to come.
My Blind Brother: In this debut feature from Sophie Goodhart, an expansion of her short film of the same name, s romantic rivalry develops between a successful blind athlete (Adam Scott) and the loser brother (Nick Kroll) who serves as his helper to try to overcome the guilt he feels for being responsible for the blindness over a woman (Jenny Slate) who, because of her own feelings of guilt, finds herself sleeping with the latter before volunteering to serves as the former’s new helper.
Nuts: Utilizing equal parts charm and chutzpah and harnessing the then-growing power of radio advertising, Dr. John Romulus Brinkley made a fortune in the early part of the 20th century after claiming to have discovered a way to restore virility to impotent men through a process that supposedly involved grafting goat testicles into their scrotums. Using Clement Wood’s “The Life of a Man: A Biography of John R. Brinkley” as a framework and utilizing various forms of animation, filmmaker Penny Lane spins a story so strange and audacious that, much like the good doctor’s claims, it may almost seem too good to be true.
Operator: Martin Starr and Mae Whitman star in this comedy-drama about the eternal clash between life and art that centers on the marriage of a computer programmer and a budding comedian that is threatened when one utilizes aspects of the other as part of their own work. This year’s Closing Night film, Starr will be appearing at the screening along with director Logan Kibens and co-writer Sharon Greene.
The Other Half: Making his directorial debut, Joey Klein presents this drama about a young couple (Tom Cullen and Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany) who struggle to make their new relationship work in spite of the guilt that he feels over a personal loss and her bipolar issues. Henry Czerny and Suzanne Clement also appear in this drama that received raves following its debut at SXSW earlier this year.
Under the Shadow: Set in Iran during the time in the 1980s when the country was reeling from the effects of revolution and their long-running war with Iraq, this horror film from writer-director Babak Anvari follows a mother and daughter who are trying to cope with those ordinary upheavals when an evil presence begins to inhabit their home. Arguably the most acclaimed horror film to emerge from Sundance this year, this film has been compared favorably to such recent genre favorites as “The Babadook” and “It Follows.”
War on Everyone: John Michael McDonagh, the writer and director of such films as “The Guard” and “Calvary” (which played CCFF in 2014) returns with this provocative comedy about two corrupt New Mexico cops (Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena) whose practice of framing and blackmailing every criminal that comes their way is upended when they go up against one (Theo James) who may not be so easily intimidated. Tessa Thompson, Stephanie Sigman and Paul Reiser in this rude, audacious and decidedly politically incorrect work.