'Dune,' 'French Dispatch,' world premieres about 'Mayor Pete' and Harold Washington add to the Chicago Film Fest lineup

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

CHICAGO — This year’s Oct. 13-24 Chicago International Film Festival, revealed more or less in full Monday after the drip-drip-drip of earlier partial announcements, lets audiences have it every which way.

It’ll be a very different and far-flung festival this year, suiting both the pandemic and artistic director Mimi Plauche’s community initiatives. Five separate venues around Chicago, plus an online component, will screen nearly 90 features, including world premiere documentaries on two regionally famous mayors (Pete Buttigieg and Harold Washington) and a controversial giant of late 20th century Chicago fine dining (Charlie Trotter).

Wes Anderson’s latest, “The French Dispatch,” opens the festival Oct. 13 at the Music Box Theatre. Closing night brings “King Richard” from director Reinaldo Marcus Green, starring Will Smith as father, coach and taskmaster to Venus and Serena Williams.

As in pre-COVID years, the festival returns to the AMC River East multiplex for many screenings. And in a reprise of last year’s mostly online edition, the ChiTown Movies drive-in in Pilsen will host several festival titles. Director Todd Haynes’ music documentary “The Velvet Underground” opens the drive-in offerings, also on Oct. 13.

Previously announced, director Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical “Belfast” is scheduled for a festival airing next month, with Sir Kenneth due to introduce the film and pick up a lifetime achievement award. “Belfast” recently took the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival, which pushes the movie toward the head of the awards-season hopefuls. Previous TIFF winners include “The King’s Speech” to “Green Book.”

Other big Hollywood or big Hollywood-adjacent titles to screen next month prior to their commercial releases either in theaters, on streaming platforms or both: director Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune,” the one with the worms, the spice and the sand; “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart and directed by Pablo Larrain; and “The Last Duel” from director Ridley Scott.

Along with the AMC 21, the Music Box and the ChiTown Movies drive-in, the festival will screen movies at the Gene Siskel Film Center downtown, and — a festival first — in Bronzeville’s Parkway Ballroom. Fifty of this year’s U.S. and international offerings will be available for in-home screenings online.


The fourth world premiere, “Exposure,” comes from Chicago native Holly Morris and charts 11 women, from Arab and Western countries, along their trek to the North Pole. The other three are “Mayor Pete” from director Jesse Moss; “Punch 9 for Harold Washington” from director Joe Winston; and director Rebecca Halpern’s “Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter.”

Previously announced: actor and first-time director Rebecca Hall is scheduled to join the festival with her debut feature “Passing,” starring Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson. The festival’s annual Black Perspectives series this year includes, among others, “Citizen Ashe,” about the tennis champion and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe, and “Oscar Micheaux — The Superhero of Black Filmmaking,” chronicling a key 20th century Chicago screen pioneer.


For information on screenings, tickets and the full 57th Chicago International Film Festival calendar, go to chicagofilmfestival.com/festival.


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