Chicago International Film Festival

(credit: Chicago International Film Festival)

It is once again time for film buffs to carve up their calendars for two weeks of movies at the AMC River East.  With this year’s Chicago International Film Festival comes 180 films from 50 countries, including features, animation, shorts, sneak previews and prize winners, Q & A sessions with directors and stars (John C. Reilly!), panel discussions, and plenty of popcorn.  Here are a dozen highlights for this year’s festival.

Chicago International Film Festival 2011

October 6-20
All films take place at AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois St.

Festival Passes (available only until October 5)

10 admissions to any regular film screening
$90 for Cinema/Chicago members
$120 for non-members

20 admissions to any regular film screening
$170 for Cinema/Chicago members
$230 for non-members

Individual Tickets

$10 for Cinema/Chicago members, students, and seniors
$13 for regular admission
$5 Matinees (Mon.–Fri. through 5:00 pm)

Special Presentations:
$14 for Cinema/Chicago members, students, and seniors
$16 for regular admission

To purchase, call (312) 332-3456 or visit

After-School Special

(credit: After-School Special)

After-School Special

Saturday, October 15, 2:30 p.m.

Wes Bentley, best known for his portrayal of the angsty teen neighbor in American Beauty, continues on the comeback trail with this darkly humorous short film by Neil LaBute.  Part of “Shorts 6: A Question of Timing.”

Andrew Bird: Fever Year

Saturday, October 15, 8:50 p.m.

Sunday, October 16, 8:30 p.m.

Eccentric Chicago tunesmith Andrew Bird is featured in this documentary on the tail end of his year-long 2009 tour.  Director Xan Aranda will be in attendance at both screenings.

Ken Nordine

(credit: Ken Nordine)

An Evening with Ken Nordine

Tuesday, October 11, 6:00 p.m.

Legendary local voice-over and radio personality, and creator of “word jazz,” Ken Nordine will discuss his seven-decade career and continuing experiments with spoken word.


Saturday, October 15, 8:15 p.m.
Monday, October 17, 8:00 p.m.

Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal star in this tale of a cartographer and photographer exploring new terrain in Armenia.  Director Braden King will be in attendance at both screenings, with a separate Q & A event on October 16 at 7:00 p.m.

Into the Abyss

(credit: Into the Abyss)

Into the Abyss

Monday, October 17, 7:30 p.m.

Film festival staple Werner Herzog directed this compelling documentary on Texas Death Row inmate Michael Perry.

The Kid with a Bike

Saturday, October 8, 5:15 p.m.

Sunday, October 9, 5:00 p.m.

Winner of the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, this French film tells the story of weekend foster mother Samantha and 11-year-old foster child Cyril, whose only connection to his father is his bike.

L Train

(credit: L Train)

L Train

Monday, October 10, 6:30 p.m. (rush tickets only)
Friday, October 14, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 16, 11:45 p.m.

A teenage girl’s anger is challenged with compassion as she encounters a young disabled woman on her commute through Chicago in winter.  Part of “Shorts 1: City And State.”


Last Rites of Joe May

Thursday, October 6, 6:00 p.m. (Opening Night Presentation, $30)

Local native Dennis Farina stars as an aging hustler in this film shot in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, alongside a cast of Steppenwolf ensemble members.  Attending the screening will be director Joe Maggio and stars Dennis Farina, Jamie Anne Allman, and Gary Cole.


My Week with Marilyn

(credit: My Week with Marilyn)

My Week with Marilyn

Wednesday, October 12, 7:00 p.m.

A 23-year-old film assistant gets the week of a lifetime in the summer of 1956 on and off the set of the Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) and Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) film The Prince and the Showgirl.  Director Simon Curtis and writer Adrian Hodges will be in attendance.


Tuesday, October 11, 6:10 p.m.
Thursday, October 13, 2:20 p.m.
Friday, October 14, 9:10 p.m. (rush tickets only)

Chicago-born director Prashant Bhargava’s feature debut tells a visually riveting story of a Delhi businessman’s surprise visit home during India’s largest kite festival.


(credit: Pina)


Tuesday, October 18, 6:15 p.m. (rush tickets only)

Dance aficionados will revel in this collaboration between German film legend Wim Wenders and chorographer Pina Bausch, who present some of Bausch’s most acclaimed work in a variety of settings.  Wenders will be in attendance at the screening.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

(credit: We Need to Talk About Kevin)

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Tuesday, October 11, 7:30 p.m. (actor John C. Reilly scheduled to attend)

Tuesday, October 18, 7:45 p.m.

Tilda Swinton and Chicago native John C. Reilly star in this psychological thriller about a reluctant mother and her fractured relationship with her son (Rush tickets only for both screenings).  “A Conversation with John C. Reilly” will take place on Wednesday, October 12 at 11:00AM.

Greg Wahl is a Chicagoan, a freelancer, a grad student, and a seeker of all things awesome & interesting throughout the city and beyond.