Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kicking Off Chicago Film Fest 2011

The picture at left is not of me queued up early, desperate to buy my tickets to the 47th Chicago International Film Festival; my hijab is a different color and pattern than this one. Still, you get the basic idea from this image: me waving whatever bills I could find, an unseen presence dispensing the goodies, people behind me going, "What's she so agitated about?"

This is the third year running I've popped into the Cinema/Chicago office as the clock struck 10am on the first day of members-only ticket sales, which is how I had a ticket to Black Swan last year and all the angry people at the Will Call at AMC River East didn't. Technically, as an accredited member of the press corps and, this year, a member of the Short Film Competition Jury, I don't even need to buy tickets, but among other caveats of this very generous offer, that only counts if I'm willing to wait until 10 minutes till showtime to know if I have a seat. You know I don't play like that, and besides, supporting Cinema/Chicago is a really good thing to do, if you can manage.

In truth, I'll be taking advantage of those privileges several times during the Festival, allowing myself to be surprised by what's on and available, and obeying my usual practice of avoiding the big fall releases and Oscar contenders as much as I can manage (with, this year, two irresistible exceptions). But in terms of what I've already committed to seeing at the longest-running competitive film festival in North America, cherry-picking hits from Sundance, SXSW, Berlin, Cannes, and Toronto, these are the baker's dozen I've already laid down for. You can count on brief reports, at least, in addition to hot tips about all the shorts and anything that gets pre-screened for critics at a time I can make during a busy season at the office:

Cairo 678 (Egypt, dir. Mohamed Diab; Main Competition)

Goodbye (Iran, dir. Mohammad Rasoulof; Main Competition)

Goodbye, First Love (France/Germany, dir. Mia Hansen-Løve; Main Competition)

Kinyarwanda (USA, dir. Alrick Brown; World Cinema/Black Perspectives)

Loverboy (Romania, dir. Catalin Mitulescu; World Cinema)

Melancholia (Denmark/Sweden, dir. Lars von Trier; Special Presentations)

Miss Bala (Mexico, dir. Gerardo Naranjo; Main Competition)

Natural Selection (USA, dir. Robbie Pickering; World Cinema)

Sleeping Beauty (Australia, dir. Julia Leigh; World Cinema/ReelWomen)

The Slut (Israel, dir. Hagar Ben-Asher; New Directors/ReelWomen)

Snowtown (Australia, dir. Justin Kurzel; After Dark)

Tomboy (France, dir. Céline Sciamma; World Cinema/Outrageous/ReelWomen)

We Need To Talk About Kevin (UK, dir. Lynne Ramsay; Special Presentation)

I might have been weak and bought a ticket to the forthcoming Coriolanus and I certainly would have made a point of catching Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, but they're up against unmovable commitments for my job. I'll also be heading out of town to a conference on closing night, so I'll be seeing The Artist with all the rest of you whenever Harvey Weinstein is good and ready to show it to us. Otherwise, though, do visit my pre-prepared listing of major competition slates or the full festival guide and let me know, as some of you have already started doing on Twitter, whether I'm in danger of skipping anything that I really, absolutely shouldn't. The more unheralded, the better!

(Still images are from Main Competition title Cairo 678, special one-night presentation Melancholia, and documentary short film Grandpa's Wet Dream.)

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Anonymous Dave said...

I haven't seen it yet, but after doing some research I'm excited for "Love is in the Air", aka "Magi i Luften". This deliriously colorful and slightly nsfw trailer was enough to sell me on it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6bAe6HdmEI So much confetti! So much neon!

I'm also curious about "Nobody else but you".

3:23 PM, September 20, 2011  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

cant wait to see what you think of MELANCHOLIA -- i'm not sure i liked it but i am also so fond of it in a way. it's a very strange feeling. anyway. i need to write about it to get those feelings in order.

3:56 PM, September 20, 2011  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Dave: That's quite a preview! I'm sensing a thread that you don't mind a sumptuously colored musical number where you can get one. Which mystifies me all the more why you didn't dig Meek's Cutoff.

@Nathaniel: WOW. That in itself, especially coming from you, and about a Lars von Trier movie where Kirsten's all brill is itself a huge incentive to look forward all the more to seeing this. I can't wave to dive into your mixed feelings!

4:01 PM, September 20, 2011  
Blogger James T said...

Finally - someone had to make a movie called The Slut! Glad you appreciated the gesture, too.

Tim Robey made me interested in Tomboy and its supposedly amazing star, so I'm curious to know what you'll think.

I liked Melancholia. Like Nathaniel, it wasn't easy for me to decide but now I know I'm a fan even if I'm not sure the grandiosity had any reason to be there or it was just von Trier having fun. And even if it was the latter, I'm not sure I have a problem. At least it made much more sense than The Antichrist and the relationships, problematic though they were, never... I think I better stop. Let's just say I think the movie was mature von Trier but still von Trier. FWIW my mum didn't like Breaking the Waves but she really liked Melancholia.

Sorry you won't watch Love Actually..Sucks (if I remember correctly).

PS: I just came back from a screening of Skoonheid and I urge you to see it though I can't promise you you'll like it.

PS2: PS-ing something is stupid because my whole comment was a PS!

5:18 PM, September 20, 2011  
Blogger James T said...

PS3: Unethical or not, I'm begging you to not vote for Time After Time! I mean, really... ;)

5:19 PM, September 20, 2011  

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