Chicago International Film Festival 2022 Picks

The Chicago International Film Festival returns this October! In its 58th year, there are many exciting films and appearances to enjoy in this iteration of the festival. The Chicago International Film Festival is North America’s longest-running competitive film festival, with venues throughout Chicago as well as options to stream and enjoy virtually. The festival runs from October 12 through October 23, 2022.

This year, I am most excited about the following films:

Sat, Oct 15 @ 3:00pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 7
Sun, Oct 16 @ 2:45pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 7

Award-winning actress Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread) delivers a tour-de-force performance as Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known to many as Sissi, in a witty, unconventional costume drama that sees the frustrated royal yearning to break free from both the constraints of her courtly obligations and her reputation as a fashionable beauty. Having turned 40, the Empress begins lacing her corsets ever tighter to maintain her public image even as she grows ever more resentful of her declining political influence. Departing 1877 Vienna, she embarks on a tour of England and Bavaria visiting former lovers, in hopes of reclaiming some of the vitality of her youth and hatching a plan to protect her legacy. A bold departure from earlier films about one of Austria’s most famous figures, Corsage is a timely reflection on a woman’s perceived social worth and struggle for agency and autonomy.

Glass Onion
Tue, Oct 18 @ 6:00pm CDT at Music Box Theatre

In this rousing, enormously entertaining follow-up to Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) travels to Greece to peel back the layers of a murder mystery involving a new cast of colorful suspects. Starring Edward Norton as an eccentric billionaire, and featuring inspired performances from Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, and Festival honoree Katheryn Hahn, Glass Onion ingeniously updates the tropes of the classic Agatha Christie mystery to our contemporary celebrity-obsessed, social-media-infused, class-divided era. Every bit as hilarious, fun, and clever as its predecessor, Glass Onion delightfully unfolds in a series of incredible twists and turns and builds to a satisfying climax that you’ll never see coming. This screening includes an in-person tribute and presentation of a Career Achievement Award to Emmy-nominated actress Kathryn Hahn.

If These Walls Could Sing
Fri, Oct 21 @ 5:30pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 7
Sat, Oct 22 @ 12:15pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 11

For over 90 years, Abbey Road Studios has been the heart of the music industry. Fans journey every year to have their photo taken at the world-famous zebra crossing, and artists strive to follow in the footsteps of their heroes. In this personal film of memory and discovery, Mary McCartney guides us through the decades to see and experience the creative magic that makes it the most prominent and longest-running studio in the world. From classical to pop, film scores to hip-hop, Disney Original Documentary’s If These Walls Could Sing explores the breadth, diversity, and ingenuity of Abbey Road Studios. Intimate interviews reveal how leading artists, producers, composers, and the dedicated engineers and staff of Abbey Road all found their musical language and community, while vivid archive footage and session tapes give exclusive access to these famously private studios. Featuring Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Roger Waters, Liam Gallagher, John Williams, Celeste, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, among others.

Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues
Sat, Oct 15 @ 5:00pm CDT at Gene Siskel Film Center
Sun, Oct 16 @ 12:15pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 7

Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues paints an insightful and engaging portrait of the master musician, known as the founding father of jazz. Covering Armstrong’s expansive career — from his roots in New Orleans to his breakthrough in Chicago to his growing fame in New York and around the world—the film skillfully interweaves a trove of archival footage with candid audio diaries and private correspondences. The result is both a musical gem and a highly revealing look at a man, far more complex than his wide-smiling and big-cheeked public personae, who speaks in brashly frank terms about race and racism in America. Filmmaker Sacha Jenkins (who has previously profiled Rick James, the Wu-Tang Clan, and 50 Cent) has created a remarkably contemporary account of the famed vocalist and trumpeter, whose contributions to the fabric of American music and culture remain relevant to this day.

Thu, Oct 20 @ 8:45pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 20
Fri, Oct 21 @ 3:30pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 20

After commercial Foley artist Zara is hospitalized for a nervous breakdown, her introverted sister Eva is thrust into her demanding job and becomes obsessed with creating the perfect sound effects for a spot featuring a horse. As Eva immerses herself more deeply into the craft, her body transforms in fantastical and unexpected ways. Invigorated and empowered by the changes to her physical form, she begins to explore newly awakened desires. Shot on stunningly vivid 16mm and featuring a hypnotic sound design, director Ann Oren describes her fiction debut best: “A love letter to the less recognized magicians of cinema and a playful celebration of otherness, Piaffe is an opportunity for viewers to see with their bodies and touch with their eyes.”

The Whale
Sat, Oct 15 @ 7:30pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 11
From Oscar-nominated filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan) comes The Whale, the story of Charlie, a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter (Sadie Sink) for one last chance at redemption. As Charlie, Brendan Fraser delivers a profoundly stirring, career-best performance, whose vulnerability shines through the 600 pounds that weigh him down throughout the film. Also featuring superb supporting turns by Hong Chau and Samantha Morton, The Whale is an intimate and captivating drama about sexuality and addiction, body and spirit, based on the acclaimed stage play by Samuel D. Hunter.

The Wonder
Fri, Oct 21 @ 7:00pm CDT at Music Box Theatre
The Irish Midlands, 1862—a young girl stops eating but remains miraculously alive and well. English nurse Lib Wright (Florence Pugh, in a riveting performance) is brought to a tiny village to observe 11-year-old Anna O’Donnell. Pilgrims gather to witness the girl who is said to have survived without food for months. Is the village harboring a saint, surviving through divine intervention, or are there more ominous motives at work? As Anna’s health rapidly deteriorates, the science-minded Lib is determined to unearth the truth, challenging the faith of the entire community. A psychological thriller inspired by the 19th-century phenomenon of the “fasting girls” and adapted from the acclaimed novel by Emma Donoghue, The Wonder is an innovative and haunting drama from the director of Gloria and A Fantastic Woman about feminine fortitude and the power of belief.

I look forward to enjoying the festival!

Learn more about the Chicago International Film Festival here.

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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