Francis McDormand

Francis McDormand in "Nomadland"

The Chicago International Film Festival today released its full film program for the 56th annual run, Oct. 14-25.

With many films streaming across the U.S. and select primetime screenings happening at Pilsen's ChiTown Movies drive-in, this year’s selection offers the most exciting, compelling, and groundbreaking feature films, documentaries, and short films of the year.

To review the full lineup, click on this.


Opening night


The celebration begins October 14 with the world premiere of RJ Cutler’s Belushi, a documentary about the cofounding member of Saturday Night Live and star of Animal House and The Blues Brothers who became an American superstar before his untimely death shocked fans around the world.


Closing night


The festival concludes with the closing night presentation of Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland on October 24. 

Starring multiple Oscar-winner Frances McDormand (Fargo, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Nomadland tells the story of a woman who decides to pack up her van and explore life outside of conventional society after witnessing the economic collapse of her rural Nevada home town. The film won the Audience Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.


Other highlights

Work by acclaimed directors like Werner Herzog, Chloé Zhao, Spike Lee, and Tsai Ming-Liang will also light up the screen, as well as highly anticipated films like Ammonite, Bad Hair, and One Night in Miami. There will also be numerous programs and special events along the way.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, September 28, but Cinema/Chicago members can grab their seats starting tomorrow, September 23 at 10:00 a.m. To learn more, click here


World Premieres

The 56th Festival presents the World Premieres of seven films, including: Belushi, the locally made documentaries The Road Up and Mama Gloria; China’s Striding into the Wind; Switzerland’s Of Fish and Men; and Venezuela’s The Special. In addition, the unseen fifth episode of Steve James’ documentary series City So Real will make its World Premiere at the Festival. The Dutch drama Becoming Mona and the Israeli documentary ‘Til Kingdom Come make their International Premieres at the Festival.


Honors and Tributes

Seven-time Academy Award nominee Kate Winslet, winner of Best Actress for The Reader, will be presented with the Career Achievement Award at a tribute to be shown in conjunction with the Festival’s Chicago Premiere of Ammonite at ChiTown Movies. Highland Park native and star of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Rachel Brosnahan will appear in a live-streamed virtual conversation during An Evening with Rachel Brosnahan, in conjunction with the Chicago premiere of I’m Your Woman on October 21. And Oscar-nominated Italian filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi (Fire at Sea) will receive the Festival’s Artistic Achievement Award in conjunction with the Chicago premiere of his new documentary Notturno, filmed on the war-torn borders between Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, and Lebanon.


Drive-in Screenings

The Festival will show a total of eight films live at ChiTown Movies drive-in theater in Pilsen. These include: the World Premiere of Belushi on Opening Night; David Byrne’s American Utopia directed by Spike Lee on Thursday, October 15; The Dark and the Wicked, a new horror film co-presented with Music Box Theatre’s “31 Nights of Terror at the Drive-In” series, showing late-night on Thursday, October 15; Justin Simien’s horror satire Bad Hair, on Friday, October 16; Francis Lee’s passionate period piece Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, on Saturday, October 17; the World Premiere of Chicago-made documentary The Road Up on Sunday, October 18; the Chicago Premiere of Regina King’s directorial debut One Night in Miami on Friday, October 23; and Nomadland on Saturday, October 24. Belushi, The Road Up and One Night in Miami will also be available for viewing in the virtual cinema in the virtual cinema. For the complete list of drive-in screenings, visit here.


Virtual Screenings and Programs

The Chicago International Film Festival embraces the current moment with its 2020 edition, retaining its signature screening slate of international features and shorts in and out of competition, along with livestream conversations and special events. Virtual screenings and events will be ticketed, and, for the first time in 2020, many films will be accessible to national audiences via the Festival’s streaming platform. Streaming movies in our virtual cinema will be viewable from the safety and comfort of the home starting Wednesday, October 14, 8pm CT, via the Festival’s streaming site and Festival apps for Roku and Apple TV.


International Competitions

As the longest running competitive film festival in North America, the Chicago International Film Festival continues its tradition of showcasing bold and accomplished new films from around the globe in a program that represents a diversity of styles, stories, and national cinemas. With most of the films screening as North American and U.S. premieres, the Festival is proud to introduce these movies to American audiences for the first time. Films vie for the Gold Hugo in the following competitions: International Feature, New Directors, and International Documentary, Short Film, and Out-Look (LGBTQ+) Competitions. For the complete list of films in international competition, visit here.

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