Chicago Critics Film Festival

It’s almost time for the 10th annual Chicago Critics Film Festival. The festival will run from May 5-11 at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre. The festival opens with a screening of SXSW Official Selection BLACKBERRY and closes with Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Special Award winner THEATER CAMP, a mockumentary send-up of summer camp culture and musical theater die-hards. The 2023 festival line-up includes Chicago premieres of the newest films from some of the most acclaimed filmmakers working today, including Paul Schrader’s MASTER GARDENER, Ira Sachs’ PASSAGES and Christian Petzold’s AFIRE.

In addition to the 20 acclaimed new feature films and two short film programs making their Chicago premieres, the festival will present two special events: THE RIGHT STUFF (Philip Kaufman) 40th anniversary screening and DARK CITY (Alex Proyas) 25th anniversary screening, both presented on 35mm film. Filmmakers expected to attend and participate in post-film Q&As include Morrisa Maltz (director/co-writer, THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY); Laura Moss (they/them; director and co-writer, birth/rebirth); Celine Song (writer/director, PAST LIVES); Clement Virgo (director/co-writer, BROTHER) and Linh Tran, director and co-writer of Chicago-produced and Slamdance Award-winning WAITING FOR THE LIGHT TO CHANGE.  

This will be the first time the Fandads will be attending and these are the movies we are playing to watch during the festival. We might not get to all the movies but we will try to cover as many as we can. Also, our schedule might change during the course of the festival.

 Laura Moss (they/them) | 98 mins
Rose is a pathologist who prefers working with corpses over social interaction. She also has an obsession — the reanimation of the dead. Celie is a maternity nurse who has built her life around her bouncy, chatterbox 6-year-old daughter, Lila. One unfortunate day, their worlds crash into each other. The two women and young girl embark on a dark path of no return where they will be forced to confront how far they are willing to go to protect what they hold most dear. 
Screens Saturday, May 6th, 7:15pm with Director/Co-Writer Laura Moss scheduled to attend

Director: Clement Virgo | 119 mins
Propelled by the pulsing beats of Toronto’s early hip hop scene, BROTHER is the story of Francis and Michael, sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men. Exploring themes of masculinity, identity and family, a mystery unfolds during the sweltering summer of 1991, and escalating tensions set off a series of events that change the course of the brothers’ lives forever. BROTHER crafts a timely story about the profound bond between siblings, the resilience of a community and the irrepressible power of music. (Guest: Director/Co-Writer Clement Virgo.)
Screens Sunday, May 10th, 7pm with director/co-writer Clement Virgo scheduled to attend

 Jeremy Coon, Steve Kozak | 85 mins
In 1977, “Star Wars” became a cultural phenomenon that single-handedly revitalized a stagnant film industry, and forever changed how films were sold, made, and marketed. Movies would never be the same again.  A year later, neither would television. In 1978, CBS aired the two-hour “Star Wars Holiday Special” during the week of Thanksgiving; it was watched by 13 million people. Considered one of the worst shows ever broadcast, it was never re-aired. While some fans of the franchise are aware of the production, this bizarre two hours of television still remains relatively unknown among the general public. A Disturbance in the Force answers how and why the infamous “Holiday Special” got made. 
Screens Saturday, May 6th, 11:59pm

Julien Chheng, Jean-Christophe Roger | 80 mins
Ernest and Celestine are traveling back to Ernest’s country, Gibberitia, to fix his broken violin. This exotic land is home to the best musicians on earth and music constantly fills the air with joy. However, upon arriving, our two heroes discover that all forms of music have been banned there for many years – and for them, a life without music is unthinkable. Along with their friends and a mysterious masked outlaw, Ernest and Celestine must try their best to bring music and happiness back to the land of bears. 
Screens Sunday, May 7th, 12pm

 Celine Song | 106 mins 
Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrest apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life, in this heartrending modern romance. (Guest: Writer/Director Celine Song.) 
Screens Tuesday, May 9th, 7pm with writer/director Celine Song scheduled to attend

Director: Zachary Wigon | 96 mins
A wickedly dark comedy follows dominatrix Rebecca (Emmy Award® nominee Margaret Qualley), and her wealthy client, Hal (Christopher Abbott), as they engage in a high stakes role playing game for power and control. In the wake of inheriting his father’s hotel chain, Hal attempts to end his long and secret relationship with Rebecca. A battle of wills ensues over the course of one incredibly fraught night, with both Rebecca and Hal struggling to keep the upper hand as the power dynamics swing wildly back and forth. 
Screens Friday, May 5th, 9:45pm

 Law Chen | 75 mins | Documentary
A family documents how their immigrant father Jerry, a recently retired Florida man, was recruited by the Chinese police to be an undercover agent, only to discover a darker truth. 
Screens Thursday, May 11th, 5pm

Annually, the Chicago Critics Film Festival features a selection of acclaimed films chosen by members of the organization, films that are a combination of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a variety of filmmakers, from established Oscar winners to talented newcomers. In recent years, the festival has provided Chicagoans their first opportunity to see acclaimed films like Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth, Sean Baker’s Red Rocket, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter and The Power of the Dog, for which Jane Campion won the Oscar for Best Director. The best way to ensure access to every aspect of the week-long event is to secure a festival pass, just $175 and available online here. Follow the CFCA and the festival on Twitter at @chicagocritics and on Facebook.

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