Chicago International Film Festival Recap

The Chicago International Film Festival has come and gone and the Fandads spent a few days watching some great movies. In our last post about the ChiFilmFest, we listed all of the movies we hoped to see. Due to the new day job and family commitments, I was not able to attend as many screenings as I would have liked. Luckily, thanks to modern times and the internet, I was sent some screener links for movies to watch at home. I was also lucky to attend some red carpets and interview some of the artists who had movies playing at the fest. Let’s begin!


Alien Island – Ernesto Glaciar Films

Alien Island was a strange movie for me to get into. I think the reason it took me a minute was because of the premise. You think you are watching a movie about a mysterious island but the further you get into the movie you realize that there is something more sinister going on. I do not want to give away too much about this film but it has to be experienced to be understood. There is a lot going on here that I don’t think I can sum up in a few words.


I’ve said it before but documentaries are my jam. I love watching these real stories of everyday people conquering something or expanding my view of the world I know. In Bike Vessel, Eric Seals shares with us the story of the bike ride he and his father took from Missouri to Chicago. While this might seem like no big deal, the story about this father and how riding a bicycle changed his life is a story that everyone should see. I got the chance to talk to Eric Seals about the documentary and we covered some great topics. Hopefully, I’ll join him on a bike ride one day.


Courtesy of Chicago International Film Festival

Carnal Sins is a brilliant film by Juan Sebastián Torales. There is so much more to this movie than just a horror movie. The real horror in this movie is the treatment of Nino, a gay teen whose family moves to the countryside due to all of the harassment that he faces. In the countryside, Nino learns about the legend of the Almamula — a monster that haunts the forest waiting to take those who commit impure acts. This is one of the movies that felt so relevant and I wanted to see it again as soon as it ended.


Courtesy of the Chicago International Film Festival

Don’t Expect Too Much From The End Of The World was funny and also bizarre. Director Radu Jude gives us a look into trying to make a difference in the world but also the powers that be are bigger than we expect. As we follow production assistant, Angela drive around Bucharest filming injured employees for a workplace safety promotional video we get a glimpse of her life and her online life which is pretty interesting. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but this movie does give you something to think about.


Hard Miles is one of those stories that we have seen before but gives us a little more. Hard Miles tells us the story of Greg Townsend whose yearly 700-mile bike ride is upended when a fellow counselor has an incident and can not take the boys on a campaign trip. Greg decides to have the boys take the 700-mile bike ride with him and on this ride, the boys learn some life lessons and so does Greg. I was lucky to talk to the star, director, and producer of the movie and got a few more insights from them on the story.


Courtesy of David Zach Magid

David Dastmalchian shines in Late Night with the Devil! This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out where it is going. The use of “found” footage from behind the scenes of the late-night show gives us a unique view as to what is going on as the show is going into a tailspin. This movie is not just about possession but about a person’s inner turmoil. Dastmalchian should get some recognition for this role come award season time.


Courtesy of Chicago International Film Festival

Raging Grace starts off like a mystery but turns into something else. This could be categorized as a horror movie but it is not horror in the way you may think. The movie follows Joy as she tries to save up money to get a visa for herself and provide for her daughter, Grace. Through a family member, she gets a job caring for a bedridden man who is being watched over by his niece. This might seem pretty straightforward but there is a lot more to the family dynamic between the niece and the man. Unfortunately, Joy learns all about this and I am still having trouble sleeping due to certain scenes towards the end.


Silver Dollar Road is a heartbreaking story of a family whose land is taken from them little by little by the state. We meet the Reels family and learn about how their matriarch Elijah Reel acquired land and built a house for the family. In the time that they lived there, they started a shrimping business, had a nightclub, and were a known family. As the land around the Reels land started to become more profitable, developers were doing all they could do to take the land from the Reels family. This documentary shows us the struggles the family has trying to save their land and all of the obstacles they are fighting against.

I will sum up the shorts by saying that these need to be seen by everyone. I am not sure how many go to see the shorts but these are great appetizers before a feature film. Awkward Laughs had some great moments but the stand out for me was The Breakthrough with Greta Lee and Ben Sinclair.

SHORTS 6: Comedy – Awkward Laughs
SHORTS 7: Black Perspectives – Resonance
SHORTS 8: Architecture – Visions of Home
SHORTS 9: Family Friendly Animation – Better Together

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