Cinema Femme is based out of Chicago, and every year we make sure to promote our top recommendations for The Chicago International Film Festival. We’ve featured interviews with female and non-binary filmmakers in past years of the festival. Our list below is based on our previous coverage and the buzz around the films. Most of these films can be found in the Women in Cinema program, with the exception of Kelly O’Sullivan’s short film, “My Summer Vacation”, which can be seen as part of the Shorts 1: Dimensions (City & State) program. We’ve been supporting and elevating Kelly from her work in “Saint Frances”, and this will be her first directorial effort screening at the festival.
Our most anticipated film for the festival is Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking,” as it’s our most anticipated film for 2022. We are also very excited to finally see “Nanny” directed by Nikyatu Jusu, on the big screen,as part of the Black Perspective series. This film was a gem that really moved us during our virtual Sundance coverage. Anna Diop, the star of the film, will be in attendance accepting the Rising Star Award. Laura Poitras’ film “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” won the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival, which marks just the second time that a documentary film has taken the top prize at Venice, following “Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro Gra” in 2013.
There’s so much to be excited about this year, especially with more in-person screening opportunities. Stay up to date with our coverage on our socials with #CinemaFemmeAtChiFilmFest. Synopses of the films below were pulled from the festival website.
#10 “Band” directed by Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir
COUNTRIES Iceland RUN TIME 87 minutes
Tue, Oct 18 @ 8:15pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 20
If This Is Spinal Tap had been centered on an all-female group of Icelandic performance-artist musicians, it would look a lot like Band. singer-turned-filmmaker Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir’s hilarious and poignant portrait of the misadventures of her Post Performance Blues Band. Renowned in the underground Reykjavik music scene since 2016 for their electro-punk sound and spandex-clad modernist dance moves, Álfrún and her friends Saga and Hrefna, nearing 40, double down on their artistic pursuits: They give themselves one year to become avant-garde pop stars—or relinquish their ambitions once and for all. Filled with absurdist humor and hard-to-believe-it’s-real moments, Band is a colorful, zany, and subversively heartfelt celebration of adult friendship and an ode to boldly, if also somewhat recklessly, pursuing your dreams.
LANGUAGE English, Icelandic with subtitles
*We don’t see enough Icelandic films directed by women, that’s reason enough for us!
#9 “My Summer Vacation” – directed by Kelly O’Sullivan (short)
COUNTRY United States RUN TIME 9 minutes
Thu, Oct 13 @ 8:30pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 4
Sun, Oct 23 @ 12:00pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 4
An elementary school student, Cass, gives an unorthodox presentation on her summer vacation in Pompeii.
#8 “Alcarràs” – directed by Carla Simón
COUNTRIES Spain, Italy RUN TIME 120 minutes
Fri, Oct 14 @ 8:15pm CDT at Gene Siskel Film Center
Fri, Oct 21 @ 12:30pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 4
For generations, the Solé family has spent summers harvesting peaches from land bequeathed to them in a handshake agreement dating back decades to the Spanish civil war. But when the estate’s owner dies and his heirs choose to sell the property, the tight-knit clan suddenly faces eviction and the prospect of an uncertain future. Like her stunning and personal feature debut, Summer 1993—which screened at the Festival in 2017—the landscape of Simón’s latest is inspired in part by her own childhood in small-town Catalonia. Alcarràs, winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, sees her confidently build on her earlier artistic achievement with a beautifully photographed, sensitively drawn yet unsentimental observational drama that features quietly astonishing performances from its ensemble cast as a fractured family whose sense of place and way of life are under threat.
LANGUAGE Catalan, Spanish with subtitles
*This film is Simón’s feature film follow up to “Summer 1993”, a beautiful slice of life coming of age film.
#7 “Sweet As” – directed by Jub Clerc
COUNTRIES Australia RUN TIME 87 minutes
Fri, Oct 21 @ 7:45pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 20
Sat, Oct 22 @ 11:30am CDT at AMC River East, Screen 20
Fed up with the destructive patterns of life at home, fiercely independent indigenous teen Murra seeks refuge from her mother’s incessant partying, fleeing to her uncle’s house. To help her channel her emotions, he enrolls Murra in a youth therapy excursion in the wilderness of Western Australia, where she reluctantly joins other adolescents, each battling their own demons. A pair of guides mentors the group, teaching them to use photography as a form of self-expression; Murra takes to the art form, finding a new lens through which to view not only the dramatic landscape but also her world, her dreams, and her future. Jub Clerc’s feature debut resonates as a profoundly personal and impassioned take on the coming-of-age story.
#6 “After Sun” – directed by Charlotte Wells
COUNTRIES United Kingdom RUN TIME 99 minutes
Tue, Oct 18 @ 5:45pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 11
At a fading vacation resort, 11-year-old Sophie treasures rare time together with her loving and idealistic father, Calum (Paul Mescal). As a world of adolescence creeps into view, beyond her eye Calum struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood. Twenty years later, Sophie’s tender recollections of their last holiday become a powerful and heartrending portrait of their relationship, as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t, in Charlotte Wells’ superb and searingly emotional debut film.
*Lots of festival buzz, feature directorial debut!
#5 “Corsage” – directed by Marie Kreutzer
COUNTRIES Austria, France, Germany RUN TIME 113 minutes
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.
LANGUAGE English, French, German, Hungarian with subtitles
#4 “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” – directed by Laura Poitras
COUNTRIES United States RUN TIME 117 minutes
Sat, Oct 22 @ 5:30pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 7
Photographer Nan Goldin is renowned for her raw and intimate photographs of people close to her, most famously those living in the New York underground scene of the 1980s. But in this emotional and multilayered chronicle, Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) interweaves the story of Goldin’s life and art with her career as an activist. From her advocacy during the AIDS crisis to her more recent battles against the opioid crisis—and the Sackler family, the pharmaceutical dynasty most responsible for it—this compelling personal history chronicles Goldin’s tragedies and triumphs, as she uses her position as an artist and disrupter to affect cultural and political change.
*Laura Poitras won the Golden Lion at Venice film festival for this film!
#3 “The Year Between” – directed by Alex Heller
COUNTRIES United States RUN TIME 95 minutes
Fri, Oct 14 @ 8:30pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 11
Sun, Oct 16 @ 12:30pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 11
Making her darkly funny assured feature debut, Chicago filmmaker Alex Heller writes, directs, and stars as a defiantly independent woman struggling to get her life back on track. Kicked out of college for bad behavior, cranky and acerbic Clemence returns to her suburban Chicagoland home where she learns she has bipolar disorder. Clashing with her loved ones and trying to hold down a job, Clemence strives to find a new equilibrium in life—with uneven results. Featuring memorable supporting performances from Steve Buscemi and J. Smith-Cameron (Succession) as Clemence’s parents, The Year Between deftly balances biting humor with the serious realities of mental illness to create a sharply comic and fiercely honest portrait of early adulthood.
#2 “Nanny” – directed by Nikyatu Jusu
COUNTRIES United States RUN TIME 97 minutes
Fri, Oct 21 @ 6:00pm CDT at AMC River East, Screen 11
In this psychological horror fable of displacement, Aisha (Anna Diop), a woman who recently emigrated from Senegal, is hired to care for the daughter of an affluent white couple living in New York City. Haunted by the absence of the young son she left behind, Aisha hopes her new job will afford her the chance to bring him to the U.S., but becomes increasingly unsettled by the family’s volatile home life. As his arrival approaches, a violent presence begins to invade both her dreams and her reality, threatening the American dream she is painstakingly piecing together. Winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize and featuring a stunning performance by Anna Diop and spectacular visual effects expressing the protagonist’s inner turmoil, Nanny is a timely, unsettling, and resonant story of motherhood and the Black immigrant experience.
LANGUAGE English, French, Wolof with subtitles
Tribute to Anna Diop
Nanny screening and Rising Star Award presentation
Friday, October 21 at 6pm | AMC River East 21
Senegalese-American actress Anna Diop delivers an unforgettable performance in Nikyatu Jusu’s highly-anticipated thriller Nanny. She brings tremendous nuance and depth to the role of Aisha, an immigrant piecing together a new life in New York City forced to confront a concealed truth that threatens to shatter her precarious American Dream. Winner of this year’s Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Nanny is set to premiere theatrically in November. Also celebrated for her work as Starfire in the DC Universe live-action series Titans on HBO Max and on the FOX series 24: LEGACY playing opposite Corey Hawkins, Diop is a gifted talent whose career holds tremendous promise. The Festival is honored to present Diop with the Rising Star Award.
#1 “Women Talking” – directed by Sarah Polley
COUNTRIES United States RUN TIME 104 minutes
Thu, Oct 20 @ 6:30pm CDT at Music Box Theater
Based on the best-selling novel by Miriam Toews, Women Talking follows a group of women in an isolated religious colony as they struggle to reconcile their faith with a series of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men.