Created by the Chicago Film Critics Association in 2013, the festival offers a selection of films comprised of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a wide variety of filmmakers ranging from award winners to talented newcomers chosen by members of the organization, the only current example of a major film critics group hosting its own festival. The final wave of titles brings together an eclectic array of films ranging from raucous comedies and foreign-made dramas to thought-provoking documentaries and a zombie epic with a couple of programs of shorts and a silent masterpiece thrown in for good measure.
The festival will kick off this year with the local premiere of "They Came Together," in which writer-director David Wain does to the romantic comedy genre what his "Wet Hot American Summer" did for summer camp comedies by gleefully skewering all of their conventions and cliches with wild abandon and a more-than-game cast featuring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms, Christopher Meloni, Cobie Smulders and many, many more. Closing Night will feature "Animals," a locally-shot drama about two junkies living out of their car near Lincoln Park Zoo who are forced to confront the reality of their situation and their relationship to each other, fresh from its showing at the South By Southwest film festival where it won the Special Jury Prize "For Courage In Storytelling." Director Collin Schiffli and star/screenwriter David Dastmalchian are currently scheduled to attend the screening.
The CCFF is proud to announce that the following titles have also been added to the lineup:
10,000 KM: After Barcelona couple Sergi and Alexandra ("Game of Thrones" star Natalia Tena) make plans to have a baby, their lives are thrown into upheaval when she is offered a year-long artistic residency in Los Angeles. The film examines their attempts to keep their relationship going strong but find that the technologies that were designed to bring the entire world closer together are having the opposite effect in their case.
DEAD SNOW: RED VS. DEAD: When we last left Martin, the hero of the cult horror film "Dead Snow," he had just endured a day in which he killed his girlfriend with an axe (by accident), lopped off his arm with a chainsaw and watched his friends get slaughtered by a horde of Nazi zombies. As this grisly sequel demonstrates, all of that was child's play compared to the new horrors in store for him.
EL CRITICO: A bitter film critic who sees the world around him as one big movie ripe for his acerbic commentary unexpectedly finds his life transforming into the kind of cliche-filled romantic comedy that he loathes when he meets a woman who cheerfully represents everything that he hates about that particular genre and who keeps turning up no matter where he goes or what he does.
I, ORIGINS: Writer-director Mike Cahill and actress Brit Marling, who previous collaborated on the critical favorite "Another Earth," team up again for another mind-bender in which a molecular biologist (Michael Pitt) and his lab partner (Marling) make a discovery that has the potential to completely change society as we know it.
THE OVERNIGHTERS: This powerful documentary from Jesse Moss takes a look at the influx of desperate men arriving in North Dakota to work in the oil fields while trying to put their troubled pasts behind them and the local pastor who stirs up controversy amongst his neighbors when he offers to take some of them in, despite their histories, until they get back on their feet.
PRIVATE VIOLENCE: An Oklahoma cop is kidnapped by her estranged husband and undergoes a brutal four-day ordeal until their truck is pulled over by police and she is taken to the hospital--shockingly, despite her injuries, he was not arrested for any of his crimes. This documentary observes her as she tries to put her life back together while taking a broader look at how the court system deals with cases of domestic abuse.
SUPERMENSCH: THE LEGEND OF SHEP GORDON: Comedian Mike Myers makes his directorial debut with this documentary that takes a look at the incredible life of Shep Gordon, a Hollywood insider whose professional career has taken him from managing rock acts like Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper to single-handedly jump-starting the celebrity chef craze as the manager of the then-unknown Emeril Legasse and whose personal life has seen him go from being an outlandish partier to a Buddhist who only wants a family of his own.
In addition to these titles, there will also be two feature-length programs of short films curated and presented by CCFF programming advisor Collin Souter. As a final bonus, CCFF passholders will be allowed to attend a screening of a restored version of the silent film classic "Battleship Potemkin" that is being presented in conjunction with the Music Box's ongoing Silent Film Series. The full screening schedule for the festival can be found at www.chicagocriticsfilmfestival.com
In addition to the aforementioned people representing "Animals," there will be other guests on hand as well to introduce their films and participate in audience Q&A's after the screenings. Co-stars Martin Starr ("Freaks & Geeks," "Silicon Valley") and Jocelyn DeBoer will be on hand to screen "Dead Snow: Red Vs. Dead." Filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts, whose previous film "The Kings of Summer" played at last year's festival, will return with his latest project, "American Ham," the film version of Nick Offerman's one-man show. Comedian-turned-filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait is scheduled to appear to present his latest, the Bigfoot-themed horror film "Willow Creek." Finally, legendary character actor Dick Miller will be on hand for a special event consisting of a screening of "That Guy Dick Miller," a wonderful documentary chronicling his long and fascinating career, a Q&A period and a presentation of one of his best-known and best-loved films, the gruesomely hilarious 1959 black comedy "A Bucket of Blood."
Festival passes and tickets for individual events can be purchased via the Music Box website (www.musicbox.com) and are priced as follows:
$150--Full Festival Pass (admittance to all events)
$100--Weekend Pass (admittance to all events Friday through Sunday)
$75--Weekday Pass (admittance to all events Monday through Thursday)
$12-$15: Individual tickets
Though the festival only came into existence last year, the inaugural event was still able to attract an impressive array of films and talent, including appearances by Sarah Polley with her award-winning documentary "Stories We Tell," "James Ponsoldt with his critically-acclaimed drama "The Spectacular Now" and William Friedkin presenting a rare 35mm screening of his 1977 masterpiece "Sorcerer." The festival's board of directors is currently at work pulling together titles and guests for this year's event and further details will be soon be made available.
For the most current details, including the full schedule of films, along with information on the festival as a whole and a look back at last year's inaugural edition, please go to www.chicagocriticsfilmfestival.com
CFCA Case Statement
The CFCA has always been dedicated to supporting and celebrating quality filmmaking that has something to say about our world, our lives, and our society. In the past, while it supported and fought for the continued role of film critics in the media, the CFCA's primary public interaction was through the announcement of its annual film awards each December. In recent years, however, the CFCA moved aggressively to expand its presence on the Chicago arts scene and to promote critical thinking about cinema to a wider base. In 2012, in addition to re-launching a late-winter awards ceremony, CFCA members presented numerous film screenings at theaters like the Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton, and Muvico Theaters Rosemont 18 in Rosemont. Illinois and has now expanded that program to a monthly series of films to be presented at the Classic Cinemas in Elk Grove Village. CFCA members also team-taught a new Young People's Film Criticism Workshop at Facets Multimedia that emphasized not just film analysis and criticism, but also writing skills to middle- and high-school students, many of whom were attending the course on lower-income scholarships.
The Future of the CFCA
As the Chicago Film Critics Association looks ahead to the future, it hopes to be a much larger presence on the Chicago arts landscape and an even more effective force for critical thinking and film appreciation. To do so will mean more efforts at public outreach, education, and enlightenment, and that will require a larger financial investment.
Going forward, the CFCA intends to set ambitious goals, including expanding the public presentation of films, teaching more film-based classes to both youth and adults, and making the Chicago Critics Film Festival into a long and ongoing annual tradition.
About The Music Box Theatre
For 30 years, the Music Box Theatre has been the premier venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films, festivals and some of the greatest cinematic events in Chicago. It currently has the largest cinema space operated full-time in the city. The Music Box Theatre is independently owned & operated by the Southport Music Box Corporation. SMBC, through its Music Box Films division, also distributes foreign and independent films in the theatrical, DVD and television markets throughout the United States. For additional information, please visit www.musicboxtheatre.com
Erik Childress (CFCA Board Member)
Office: (847) 439-5750
Cell: (224) 805-1573
Brian Tallerico (CFCA Board Member)