The first twenty titles, including Sundance winner “Precious” by Lee Daniels, and Cannes titles “Vincere” by Marco Bellocchio and Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist” are among the initial films unveiled by organizers of the 45th Chicago International Film Festival. Over 150 films will screen during the event, taking place October 8 – 21. American offerings in the initial grouping of films include Katherine Dieckmann’s “Motherhood,” Ti West’s “The House of the Devil,” Judi Krant’s “Made in China” and Brian Caunter’s “Chicago Overcoat,” while anticipated international includes French director Claude Chabrol’s “Bellamy,” Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu’s “Police, Adjective” and John Woo’s “Red Cliff” (China).
The 20 films unveiled by the 45th Chicago International Film Festival with descriptions provided by organizers:
“Air Doll” (Kuki Ningyo), directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda – Japan
The acclaimed director of Nobody Knows and After Life returns with the modern fairy tale of an inflatable doll who takes on a life of her own, begging the question–what really makes us human?
Japanese with English subtitles.
“Antichrist,” directed by Lars von Trier – Denmark/Germany
Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg star in this dark, erotic love story from the controversial writer/director of Dogville, Dancer in the Dark, and Breaking the Waves. A grieving couple retreats to an isolated cabin in the woods to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course, and things go from bad to worse….
“Backyard” (El traspatio), directed by Carlos Carrera – Mexico
Hundreds of women have gone missing or turned up dead in the border town of Juarez, Mexico, but new police captain Blanca Bravo (Ana de la Reguera) is determined to stop the savagery. The director of The Crime of Father Amaro helms this chilling thriller, based on actual events.
Spanish, English, Tzotzil with English subtitles.
“The Be All and End All,” directed by Bruce Webb – UK
In this hilarious and heartwarming tale of true friendship, terminally ill teen Robbie doesn’t want to die a virgin, so it’s up to his lifelong mate Ziggy to get a girl into Robbie’s bed… by any means necessary.
“Bellamy,” directed by Claude Chabrol – France
Gerard Depardieu stars as a Paris police chief who becomes embroiled in an unorthodox murder mystery while on vacation in French New Wave veteran Claude Chabrol’s playfully witty crime story.
French with English subtitles.
“Chicago Overcoat,” directed by Brian Caunter – USA
This shoot-’em-up neo-noir crime drama–centering on an over-the-hill hit man (Frank Vincent, The Sopranos) looking for one last job to relive his glory days–is a stylish, accomplished debut from local filmmakers.
“Eye of the Storm” (No Meu Lugar), directed by Eduardo Valente – Brazil/Portugal
In the aftermath of an accidental death, three stories build to a gripping and unexpected climax, reminding us that the past is very much a part of the present.
Portuguese with English subtitles.
“A Frozen Flower” (Ssang-Hwa-Jeom), directed by Yoo Ha – South Korea
This bold and provocative tale of the forbidden love between a 13th-century Korean king and his male guard is laced with lust, betrayal, and epic battles.
Korean, Mandarin with English subtitles.
“Hipsters” (Stilyagi), directed by Valery Todorovsky – Russia
Moscow, 1955. Soviet uniformity is the order of the day, but incurring the wrath of all the grim-faced comrades in Russia isn’t enough to stop a group of young “hipsters” from donning outrageous threads, puffing up their pompadours, pushing up their cleavage, throwing back martinis, and shakin’ their hips. Could this romantic, infectiously fun musical be this year’s Slumdog Millionaire?
“The House of the Devil,” directed by Ti West – USA
This simmering retro suspense thriller centers on a cute college girl who takes a babysitting gig at a big, creaky country house lorded over by a creepy old couple with big plans to celebrate the night’s rare lunar eclipse.
“Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno” (L’enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot), directed by Serge Bromberg, Ruxandra Medrea – France
A director and his gorgeous ingenue, actress Romy Schneider, set off on an ambitious plan to revolutionize the art of cinema. What went wrong along the way is the subject of this fascinating documentary.
French with English subtitles.
“Made in China,” directed by Judi Krant – USA
Wes Anderson’s whimsy meets David Mamet’s love of duplicity in the peppy, comic tale of a wide-eyed Texas hayseed who travels to China to find a manufacturer for the novelty product he hopes will put him right up there with the guy who invented the whoopee cushion.
“Motherhood,” directed by Katherine Dieckmann – USA
Uma Thurman shines in this charming, high-energy comedy as a beleaguered Manhattanite just trying to survive another day of the madness that comes with raising two young kids (and a husband and best friend).
“Police, Adjective” (Politist, adjectiv), directed by Corneliu Porumboiu – Romania
Winner of two top awards at Cannes, this austere cop drama about the conflict between an individual’s moral conscience and the letter of the law affirms the singular talent Porumboiu revealed in his internationally acclaimed debut, 12:08 East of Bucharest.
Romanian with English subtitles.
“Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” directed by Lee Daniels – USA
The story of 16-year-old “Precious” Jones–the victim of physical and emotional abuse by her father and poisonously angry mother–is sculpted into a vibrant, honest, and resoundingly hopeful film about the human capacity to grow and overcome.
“Red Cliff,” directed by John Woo – China
John Woo puts his singular stamp on the art of war in this Chinese box office smash. Set during the tumult of the third-century Han Dynasty, Red Cliff comes spring-loaded with scandals, spies, and scorching battles.
Mandarin with English subtitles.
“Vincere,” directed by Marco Bellocchio – Italy/France
The closely guarded story of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s secret lover and son is revealed in fittingly operative proportions in this electrifying tour de force.
Italian with English subtitles.
“Who’s Afraid of the Wolf” (Kdopak by se vlka bal), directed by Maria Prochazkova – Czech Republic
In a fantastical film for all ages, a young girl’s imagination runs wild as she tries to understand the family crisis enveloping her and wake up from what she hopes is a bad dream.
Czech with English subtitles.
This year’s short films program includes Cannes Critics’ Week favorite “Logorama” and “Horn Dog,” a new animated work from Oscar-nominated director Bill Plympton.