DAY NINE: LIVE FROM CHICAGO! The 56th Chicago International Film Fest Awards, Oct. 23, 2020

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CHICAGO – The Chicago International Film Festival was founded in 1965 by Michael Kutza, and is the longest running “competitive film festival” in North America. So with that in mind it’s time for the 56th festival to confer those awards. And the fest will be doing it live on their YouTube Channel (click here) at 10am Central Time on Friday, October 23rd.

To prove that anything can happen at the Awards Ceremony (when we were allowed to present them in person and attend the event), in 2013 I was standing in the bar at the Ambassador East hotel when an older gentleman started filming me with a high end video camera. After engaging in a pleasant conversation, I saw him again at the actual awards presentations – receiving a Lifetime Achievement honor. That gentleman was Haskell Wexler, the Oscar winning cinematographer for films such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “Bound for Glory,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and “Coming Home.” Haskell Wexler had shot footage of me … I will relate that story until the end. Joe Arce’s incredible photo is below, with Haskell pointing his ever-present camera (For the obit of Haskell Wexler click here).

The 56th Chicago International Film Festival Celebrates DAY NINE of the movie extravaganza, with films available for 2020 virtually and online. Click here for a complete how-to guide on navigating the 2020 CIFF.

Haskell Wexler
Haskell Wexler, Oscar Winning Cinematographer
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

APPEARANCES OF THE DAY: 11:00am: “Coffee Talk: ‘Disconnecting the Dots: Animated Storytelling … Livestream panel discussion with three directors talking about the power of animation. 12:00pm: “Conversations with Filmmakers Meritxell Colell and Jennifer Reeder … Livestream panel discussion with two women directors on their process. 2:00pm: “’Farewell Amor” … Livestream Q&A with director Ekwa Msangi. Suggested streaming start time, 12:05pm. 4:00pm: “Gaza Mon Amour” … Livestream Q&A with directors Tarzan and Arab Nasser. Suggested streaming start time, 2:05pm. 7:00pm: “Striding Into the Wind … Livestream Q&A with director Wei Shujun. Suggested Streaming Start Time, 4:30pm. 9:00pm: “Under the Open Sky” … Livestream Q&A with directors Nishikawa Miwa. Suggested Streaming Start Time, 6:40pm. (For more info, click here)

FILM OF THE DAY: “Dear Comrades” (Russian) – It’s the artists that tell the truth. Behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union of 1962, the town of Novocherkassk goes on strike because of rising food prices. A town committee official named Lyuda (Yuliya Vysotskya) fears for her daughter in the subsequent riotous uprising, and her fears are realized when the girl disappears. This film is a tour through the Soviet bureaucracy, in which officials all the way to Moscow try to keep a lid on the riots, as ordinary citizens seek answers where there are none. Chilling, and a lesson in “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Directed in an old black&white film format (box rather than rectangle) by Audrey Konchalovskiy. (click here).

The 56th Chicago International Film Festival takes place through October 25th, 2020. Click here for digital film schedules and ticket information. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

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