THE CHICAGO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
announces the full schedule for this year's
CHICAGO CRITICS FILM FESTIVAL
MAY 1-7, 2015
THE MUSIC BOX THEATRE
3733 North Southport
Chicago, IL 60613
Films featuring Michael Fassbender, Salma Hayek, Jason Schwartzman, Jemaine Clement, Cobie Smulders, Taylor Schilling and Jessica Williams added to the bill at this year's festival.
The Chicago Critics Film Festival, now in its third year, is pleased to announce the final wave of titles that will be screening as part of this year's event, including the Opening Night and Closing Night films, as well as a lineup of special guests, information on purchasing tickets and passes and a full screening schedule. The first film festival to be created and curated entirely by film critics, this year's lineup will include the latest films from such acclaimed directors as Francois Ozon, Joe Swanberg and Andrew Bujalski and stars like Michael Fassbender, Salma Hayek, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Sam Rockwell, Guy Pearce, Jean Dujardin, Jermaine Clement, Cobie Smulders, Taylor Schilling and Jessica Williams, all of which will be making their local premieres. The festival will run May 1-7, 2015 and will be held once again at Chicago's historic Music Box Theatre.
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. The final wave of titles brings together an eclectic array of film genres ranging from comedy to drama to horror to animation with even a couple of westerns and short subject programs thrown in for good measure.
The festival will kick off this year with the local premiere of the previously announced "Digging for Fire," the new comedy from prolific local filmmaker Joe Swanberg (who will be on hand to present his film) featuring Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt as a married couple whose inability to adjust to life as parents three years after the birth of their child leads to a night of strange temptations for both while house-sitting for some friends. The closing film will be "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," an adaptation of the Jesse Andrews novel about a budding teenage filmmaker who forms an unexpected friendship with a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer that features a cast including Olivia Cooke, Jon Bernthal, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon and Nick Offerman and which won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
The previously announced titles also include the eagerly anticipated drama "The End of the Tour," the French true-life crime drama "The Connection," the feminist-slanted western "The Keeping Room," Andrew Bujalski's oddball comedy "Results" and Bobcat Goldthwait's documentary, "Call Me Lucky," about comedian-turned-activist Barry Crimmins. Joining those films in today's full schedule are the following titles:
Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World: An attempt by the San Francisco Make-A-Wish Foundation to fulfill the dream of 5-year-old Miles Scott to be Batman for a day exploded on social media and brought together over 25,000 people to make it happen. This documentary (soon to be the basis of a narrative feature) takes viewers behind the scenes of that event to show what extraordinary things can be achieved when people choose to work together for a common good.
Blind: This twisty mind-bender focuses on a former schoolteacher who, having recently lost her sight, spends nearly all her time in a high-tech, high-rise apartment where she is more in control of her surroundings. She goes so far as to create a fictional narrative that allows her to "see" once again, even as it begins to blend into her real existence. Blind has collected accolades in its native Norway (where it won four of that country's equivalent of the Oscars) and Berlin, in addition to earning the World Cinema Award for Best Screenplay at Sundance.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon: With its brash, take-no-prisoners sensibility, fostered by the contributions of some of the most innovative comedic minds of its time, National Lampoon literally revolutionized the face of American comedy in the Seventies through its print, stage, radio and cinematic output in ways that are still being felt today. Combining rare archival footage of such notable Lampoon alumni as John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner and Harold Ramis along with new interviews with the people behind Lampoon and testimonials from those who would be inspired by its outrages, this documentary chronicles its meteoric rise and fall. No dogs will be harmed at the screening. . . probably.
Goodnight Mommy: In this twisty and twisted German drama, which won a prize at the Stiges Film Festival for co-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, nine-year-old twin brothers living in a remote countryside home await the return of their mother following surgery. When she does return—all bandaged up and acting differently—the boys begin to doubt that she is who she says she is.
Heaven Knows What: This gritty drama tells the story of a homeless junkie teenager (Arielle Holmes) who divides her days between trying to feed her equally self-destructive addictions to heroin and her sometime boyfriend (Caleb Landry Jones). Intriguingly, the film itself is a fictionalized adaptation of Holmes's memoir that finds her re-enacting her own real-life experiences living on the streets of New York City.
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet: The classic book by the renowned poet is brought to life in this animated film about a jailed writer (Liam Neeson) seemingly on the verge of being released from house arrest and the rambunctious little girl (Quvenzhane Wallis) who befriends him. Throughout the film, Gibran's musings are brought to life in a series of segments directed by such famed animators as Roger Allers, Nina Paley and Bill Plympton.
The New Girlfriend: Working from a story by Ruth Rendell, acclaimed French filmmaker Francois Ozon ("Swimming Pool," "8 Women," "Young & Beautiful") offers up the tale of a young woman (Anais Demoustier) who is left reeling by the sudden death of her lifelong best friend (Isild de Besco). One day, she pays an unexpected visit to the friend's widow (Romain Duris) and makes a discovery that changes both of their lives in highly unexpected ways.
Night Owls: A drunken one-night stand goes off in unexpected and darkly comedic directions for amiable schlub Kevin (Adam Pally) when he discovers that Madeline (Rosa Salazar) is the ex-mistress of his revered boss, they are in his house and, after she downs a bunch of pills, he has to spend the rest of the evening making sure that she stays awake.
The Overnight: A new-to-L.A. couple (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) and their young son meet another couple (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche) and their child during a trip to the park and arrange to meet for a family playdate/dinner party that gets increasingly strange and awkward for the adults as the evening progresses.
People Places Things: James C. Strouse, whose "Grace is Gone" won two awards at Sundance in 2007, returns with this comedy featuring Jermaine Clement as a New York comic book artist/teacher whose struggles to cope with his wife leaving him and the being the father of six-year-old twin daughters eventually lead to his involvement with the mother (Regina King) of one of his students (Jessica Williams) - and with the student herself.
Quitters: In this debut feature from Noah Pritzker, a teenager (Ben Konigsberg) finds his prosperous-but-distant family falling apart before his eyes and endeavors to find a new one to fit into. Also appearing in this comedy-drama are Mira Sorvino, Greg Germann, Kieran Culkin, Saffron Burrows and Kara Hayward in her first major screen role since making her debut in "Moonrise Kingdom."
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made: You may have heard the story of the three 11-year-old Mississippi boys who, in 1982, started off to produce a scene-for-scene remake of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with nothing more than an 80s-era camcorder and equal parts pluck, determination and casual disregard for their own well-being. This documentary chronicles the history behind what would prove to be a years-long endeavor (including a healthy selection of clips of the resulting footage), the unexpected series of events that allowed it to be seen years later and the attempts by the now-grown friends to patch up old hurts and finally shoot the one sequence that they were unable to recreate the first time around.
The Second Mother: A prize-winner at Berlin (where it scored the Audience Award in the Panorama section) and Sundance (where co-stars Regina Case and Camila Mardila shared a special jury prize), this Brazilian-made drama from Anna Muylaert tells the story of a live-in domestic (Case) whose estranged daughter (Mardila) arrives for a visit while preparing for her college entrance exams and forces her mother to re-examine her relationships with her own family and with the household to whom she is now arguably closer.
Slow West: In this low-key Western from first-time filmmaker John Maclean, a 16-year-old Scottish boy travels from the highlands all the way to Colorado in pursuit of the woman with whom he is helplessly in love. Along the way, he is rescued by a far more resourceful frontiersman (Michael Fassbender) who offers to accompany him on his quest and who has his own ulterior motives for offering his assistance.
Unexpected: Cobie Smulders stars in this drama from Kris Swanberg about an inner-city high school teacher who forms a genuine friendship with her most promising student (Gail Bean) after they both discover that they are unexpectedly pregnant and is determined to help the girl get into the University of Illinois, regardless of her new situation.
In addition to Joe Swanberg on Opening Night, other guests scheduled to be on hand to introduce their films and participate in audience Q&A's after screenings include:
· Cobie Smulders, who will appear with both "Results" & "Unexpected."
· Kris Swanberg, who will present her directorial effort, "Unexpected."
· Director Dana Nachman & writer/editor Kurt Kuenne, who will attend the screening of "Batkid Begins."
· Douglas Tirola, who will attend with his film "Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon."
· Director Patrick Brice, who will present his film "The Overnight."
· Director Alfonso Gomez-Rajon will close out the fest with "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl."
There will even be the return of a few previous CCFF guests:
· Bobcat Goldthwait, whose horror-comedy "Willow Creek" was one of last year's more popular titles, returns this year to screen his latest work, the documentary "Call Me Lucky." He will be joined by the subject of the film, comedian Barry Crimmins.
· Acclaimed filmmaker James Ponsoldt, who screened his celebrated "The Spectacular Now" at the inaugural festival, will return with his newest film, "The End of the Tour." It’s an eagerly anticipated new drama about a Rolling Stone reporter (Jesse Eisenberg) who follows noted author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) for a few days on a tour to promote his landmark book "Infinite Jest."
In addition to these titles, there will also be three feature-length programs of new short subjects curated and presented by CCFF programming advisor Collin Souter, one of which is focused specifically on horror films and will play at midnight Friday, including "Restoration" from director Ryan Oliver who will be on hand to introduce it.
Festival passes and tickets for individual events can be purchased via the Music Box website (www.musicboxtheatre.com) and are $150 for a Full Festival Pass with admittance to all events or $12-$15 for individual screenings.
For the most current details, including the full schedule of films, additional guests, information on the festival as a whole and a look back at previous years, please go to www.chicagocriticsfilmfestival.com, follow the CFCA on Twitter at @ChicagoCritics, and like the organization's page on Facebook.
About the CFCA
The Chicago Film Critics Association is a group of Chicago-area print, online and broadcast critics who have been celebrating and promoting the art of cinema for 25 years. The CFCA has always been dedicated to celebrating quality filmmaking that has something to say about our world, our lives, and our society. In the past, while it supported and fought for the continued role of film critics in the media, the CFCA's primary public interaction was through the announcement of its annual film awards each December. In recent years, however, the CFCA moved aggressively to expand its presence on the Chicago arts scene and to promote critical thinking about cinema to a wider base.
Beginning in 2011, CFCA members hosted numerous screenings at theaters such as the Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton and Muvico Theaters Rosemont 18 in Rosemont. That program has now expanded to a monthly series of films presented at the Classic Cinemas in Elk Grove Village. CFCA members also team-taught a new Young People's Film Criticism Workshop at Facets Multimedia that emphasized not just film analysis and criticism, but also writing skills to middle- and high-school students, many of whom were attending the course on lower-income scholarships.
As the Chicago Film Critics Association looks ahead to the future, it hopes to be a much larger presence on the Chicago arts landscape and an even more effective force for critical thinking and film appreciation.
About The Music Box Theatre
For 30 years, the Music Box Theatre has been the premier venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films, festivals and some of the greatest cinematic events in Chicago. It currently has the largest cinema space operated full-time in the city. The Music Box Theatre is independently owned & operated by the Southport Music Box Corporation. SMBC, through its Music Box Films division, also distributes foreign and independent films in the theatrical, DVD and television markets throughout the United States. For additional information, please visit www.musicboxtheatre.com
Erik Childress (CFCA Board Member)
Office: (847) 439-5750
Cell: (224) 805-1573
Brian Tallerico (CFCA Board Member)