Preview: Final Four Nights of 2015 Chicago Critics Film Festival

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CHICAGO – As the Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) – a film festival as programmed by the members of the Chicago Film Critics Association – heads into its last four nights, the variety and depth of the films that are being screened continues to astound and entertain. It all takes place at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, May 4 through 7, 2015. contributors Nick Allen and Patrick McDonald have been sampling the best of the festival, and offer this preview of the final four nights of films. Each capsule is designated with NA (Nick Allen) or PM (Patrick McDonald) – to indicate the author – or encapsulates the official synopsis from the festival.

’Quitters’ Screens on Monday, May 4th, at the Chicago Critics Film Festival
Photo credit: Chicago Critics Film Festival

The CCFF Closing Night films are the 2015 Sundance hits “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” and “The Overnight,” screening on Thursday, May 7th, 2015. For ticket information regarding all shows, click here.

”Shorts Program #2”

“Pink Grapefruit” – A young married couple brings two of their single friends out to Palm Springs for a long weekend.  It does not go as planned. Directed by Michael Mohan.

“9:55 – 11:05 Ingrid Ekman Bergsgatan 4B” – 67-year-old Ingrid has decided to deal with cancer on her own. She retreats from the outside world and it retreats from her. Directed by Cristine Berglund and Sophie Vucovic.

“Boxeadora” – One woman defies Fidel Castro’s ban on female boxing to follow her dream of Olympic glory and become Cuba’s first female boxer. Directed by Meg Smaker.

“Volta” – A mother and daughter start out from downtown Athens and head to the northern suburbs of the city. Nina thinks she’s going on a walk. Directed by Stella Kyriakopoulos.

“The Little Deputy” – Trevor tries to have his photo taken with his father. Written and Directed by Trevor Anderson.

“A Blue Room” – A man wakes up in a blue room. He’s stuck inside. He can’t escape. A window is the only way to connect to the outside world. Directed by Thomasz Siwinski. (CCFF Synopsis)

Monday, 5/4, 5pm


Writer/director Noah Pritzker crafts a dry comedy about not fitting in with family or friends in his feature debut, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the past South-by-Southwest film festival. Featuring an ensemble that includes Mira Sorvino, Kara Hayward (“Moonrise Kingdom”), Saffron Burrows, Scott Lawrence and Kieran Culkin, the film challenges the tone expected for a teenage rebellion, and is primed to inspire lively film-lover debate when it makes its Chicago premiere on Monday night. (NA)

Director Noah Pritzker will be in attendance.

Monday, 5/4, 7pm

”Heaven Knows What”

Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, “Heaven Knows What” blends fiction, formalism and raw documentary as it follows a young heroin addict (Arielle Holmes), as she searches for a twisted romance connection on the streets of New York. The film is based on Holmes’ soon-to-be-published memoir “Mad Love in New York City.” Co-starring Caleb Landry-Jones, and also features street legend Buddy Duress and gore rap phenom Necro. (PM)

Monday, 5/4, 9pm


In Ingrid’s dreams she can see the way the world around her looks – her husband’s office, their favorite restaurant, her memories. It’s when Ingrid awakes each morning, and opens her eyes, that she remembers she’s blind. With her life suddenly and dramatically changed, Ingrid has retreated to the safety of her apartment where she can feel in control, letting her imagination become her reality, and where her deepest fantasies, desires, and fears provide a constant internal monologue. Ingrid has invented her own world to substitute for the one she has lost, but how can she make sense of all that is happening to her, and who can she trust? (CCFF Synopsis)

Tuesday, 5/5, 5pm

”Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon”

Familiar Faces in ‘Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon’
Photo credit: Chicago Critics Film Festival

If you enjoyed the American comedy of the last 40 years – Saturday Night Live, the “Vacation” movies, John Hughes, Judd Apatow, etc. – then pretty much all of it has roots in a humor magazine that began in 1970, National Lampoon. From the beginnings at Harvard University, through The Second City Chicago influence and Saturday Night Live, the must-see “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead” chronicles the lives and adventures of the contributors to this legendary comedy juggernaut – including Doug Kenney, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Michael O’Donoghue, Chris Miller, P.J. O’Rourke, John Hughes and Al Jean. It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times (“stupid monkey”!). (PM)

Director Douglas Tirola will appear at the screening.

Tuesday, 5/5, 7pm

”The Connection”

A stylish, 70’s-period crime thriller inspired by true events, Cédric Jimenez’s film tells the story of real-life Marseilles magistrate Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin) and his relentless crusade to dismantle the most notorious drug smuggling operation in history – the French Connection. In his crosshairs is charismatic and wealthy kingpin, Gatean “Tany” Zampa (Gilles Lellouche), who runs the largest underground heroin trade into the States. Though the tenacious Michel and a task force of elite cops who will stop at nothing – including boldly orchestrated drug raids, devastating arrests, and exacting interrogations – to ensure the crime ring’s demise, Zampa’s “La French” always seems one step ahead. As La French mounts its retaliation, Michel will be forced to make the most difficult decision of his life – to continue waging his war or ensuring his family’s safety, before it’s too late. (CCFF Synopsis)

Tuesday, 5/5, 9:30pm

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