The Annual Chicago International Film Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary and will take place from October 9 through October 23, 2014. It was founded in 1964 by filmmaker and graphic artist Michael Kutza as an alternative to the commercial Hollywood movies, which dominated the city’s theaters then and still dominate them now. The Festival evolved since then and became a world-renowned annual event, which is a cultural “window” to the cinema previously unknown or otherwise unavailable in Chicago.
Even though, Chicago is a multicultural city, most Americans are ignorant about foreign cultures or have no interest in learning about them. The truth is, if you are not a film major in college or a recent ex-patriot from a foreign country, you would not want to attend the International Film Festival. In general, Americans are easily bored and are not able to sit through some intellectual film in a foreign language with subtitles and make sense of it. It is too much work and not worth it (the tickets are usually more costly than regular tickets for mainstream movies).
I fall into both categories, I am a product of a different culture (Russian) and I majored in Communication, which included a lot of film classes, such as: cinematography, film making, history of cinema, writing, and videography, to name a few. I love movies in general, and I have weakness for thought provoking ones: the more intellectual films are and harder to understand, the more I like them. I always choose foreign movies that I feel culturally close to (a lot of European movies in my case). I try to avoid seeing American movies, I can always see them later. If you belong to a small minority of movie goers like me and would like to learn more about the world cinema, this Festival is for you.
To get the most out of The Annual Chicago International Film Festival you should do the following:
Pick up the schedule for the event online or in the paper form.
In the past, The Festival ran at different Fine Art Movie Theaters around Chicago, which was great and very convenient for a lot of people including me. Recently, this formula changed and the event was restricted to one particular venue (for the past two years it was at AMC River East 21).
If you are a novice, pick a short foreign movie or an animation.
These types of movies are easier to digest and understand, especially cartoons. Animation is a cinematic language that everyone can understand.
If you know your cultural roots or want to know about your background, pick the movie close to your culture.
If you know at least one foreign language, pick the movie in that language, otherwise, you would have to deal with the subtitles, which could be a pain. Most importantly, be open minded and enjoy the experience.
I cannot have enough of The International Film Festival and cannot wait for a new upcoming season this year. I even own a t-shirt with the Chicago International Film Festival logo (created by Festival Founder and Artistic Director Michael Kutza) – unforgettable, intriguing, heavily mascared eyes of silent screen movie stars.