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From retellings of Harold Washington’s election as mayor to tackling Chicago’s recent mental health crisis, many local filmmakers decided to share their history and experiences with the world. The full roster for the festival, which runs from Oct. 13 to 24, 2021, was revealed this week. Attendees can choose from six feature films and eight shorts.
For the first time in years, people can see movies at several locations, including AMC River East 21, Music Box Theatre, the Gene Siskel Film Center, drive-in screenings at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen, and local pop-up screenings at Parkway Ballroom in Bronzeville.
Amrita Singh, a resident of Hyde Park, directed “Winning In America.” The plot follows Aishwarya Narayanan, who battles to manage her family’s expectations and aspirations, particularly from her coach and father, Neil (played by the director’s father), while competing in the National Spelling Bee.
Another feature called “Acts of Love,” is directed by Isidore Bethel and Francis Leplay. The storyline is based on Bethel’s summer experience with Chicago’s gay hookup culture.
Bethel searches for love on dating apps while juggling romances, heartbreak, and a disapproving mother. In a media preview from this week, Bethel said:
It’s a film that we edited together in Paris after the process of shooting it in Chicago with people that I met in Chicago with a director of photography named Brian Saunders, and it’s just such an honor to screen it where it takes place and with people who are in it and who helped to bring it into the world.
Now that the festival has a hybrid format that offers online and in-person options for viewing, these filmmakers are taking every opportunity to showcase their documentaries. Many of the films to be recognized internationally feature Chicago-based stories or are produced by Chicago talent. For many of these directors, having their work recognized thanks to the city is an opportunity of a lifetime. “I couldn’t have made this film in any other place,” said Singh about her experience. “Chicago was truly a supportive environment.”
Written by Ogechi Onyewuchi
Edited by Cathy Mine-Ware
The Block Club Chicago: This Year’s Chicago International Film Festival Shines Light On Local Talent: ‘I Couldn’t Have Made This Film In Any Other Place;’ by Maia McDonald
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Neal Jennings’ Flickr Page- Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Louise Bisset’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License