With its founder Michael Kutza nearing his half-century mark as leader, the Chicago International Film Festival announced its 48th edition slate Thursday. Heavily concentrated, as it has been in recent years, at the downtown AMC River East 21 multiplex, the juried festival (main competition jury president to be named later) runs Oct. 11-25 and opens with the world premiere of "Stand Up Guys," an autumnal mob comedy featuring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Julianna Margulies.
Chicago native Fisher Stevens directed the picture; he and his stars are scheduled to appear at the red-carpet opening at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.
"Flight," soon to close out this year's New York Film Festival, has been slated to do likewise at Chicago's festival, with director Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump," "Back to the Future") in attendance Oct. 25. The thriller stars Denzel Washington as a commercial airline pilot whose heroism in a crisis is called into question.
Other festival attendees this year include Chicago-based "Matrix" creators Lana and Andy Wachowski, whose latest picture, an adaptation of the multi-story novel "Cloud Atlas," is the festival centerpiece (Oct. 17). In addition, three well-known actresses are in line to receive Silver Hugo awards this year. Joan Allen, whom I first saw in Steppenwolf Theatre Company's magical staging of "And a Nightingale Sang" a generation ago, will be showcased in an "evening with" presentation Oct. 14.
Viola Davis, who was robbed when she didn't get the Oscar for "The Help," receives the festival's Career Achievement Award Oct. 22 as part of the Black Perspectives program. And Helen Hunt, co-star with John Hawkes of the festival offering "The Sessions," participates in a post-screening discussion Oct. 20.
Filmmakers Philip Kaufman, Steve James and, from Israel, Joseph Cedar are also scheduled to take part in various conversations in the festival.
Chosen by Kutza, programming head Mimi Plauche and their team, the festival's five competition categories corral 120 feature-length titles from 53 countries. Highlights scouted by Kutza and Plauche on the international circuit include the Cannes Film Festival alums "Like Being in Love," from Iran's Abbas Kiarostami; "Beyond the Hills," from Romania's Cristian Mungiu; and "Holy Motors" from the French provocateur Leos Carax. Those three, and many more, recently screened at Toronto; other Toronto festival titles appearing next month in Chicago's line-up include Ronald Harwood's "Quartet" directed by Dustin Hoffman; the Wachowski's "Cloud Atlas"; and the semi-autobiographical Olivier Assayas memory piece "Something in the Air." (Note: In an earlier piece I listed Michael Haneke's "Amour" as a Chicago festival offering. It's not.)
Go to chicagofilmfestival.com for the schedule compleat. Phone: 312-683-0121. The AMC River East 21 is located at 322 E. Illinois St. Pass options include 10 regular admissions, $95 for Cinema/Chicago members, $125 for non-members. If you are woman or man enough for 20, that'll run ya $180 for Cinema/Chicago members, $240 for non-members.
Happy cinematic gluttony.