Film illuminates the world. It opens our eyes. It shows us things we don't see every day, makes us feel things we don't always feel. For 49 years, we've been committed to discovering some of the most exciting film the world has to offer…yours!
Across countries, languages and classes, film has the power to provide us with a release, an escape, a window into new worlds and new possibilities. In 2013, we presented 125 feature films, including 20 feature-length documentaries, and 50 short subject films from more than 55 countries. Many of these films participated in competitive sections, where the highest honor is the Gold Hugo - a standard of excellence in the world of film and a true symbol of discovery.
When we started the Chicago International Film Festival 50 years ago, we had one simple goal: to introduce Chicago and the world to new filmmakers, new stories and new points of view. We've shown first feature films by world-renowned directors like Martin Scorsese (USA), Peter Weir (Australia), Mike Leigh (UK), Gregory Nava (USA), Bertrand Tavernier (France), Jan Troell (Sweden), Joe Swanberg (USA), and Wim Wenders (Germany). Last year I'm proud to say we stuck to that mission more than ever by showing over 40 films by first-time filmmakers. It's important to us that we're always learning, always seeing the world in a new way.
For our 50th year, we want to discover something new, and that all starts with you, the filmmaker.
Show us something new, share your stories with us.
Founder and Artistic Director
COMPETITIONS AND PROGRAM SECTIONS
Films are programmed for public screening in a diverse selection of competitions and categories. Each film is presented in one or more of the following sections and is placed at the discretion of the programming committee.
International Feature Film Competition
Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these works compete for the Festival’s top honor, the Gold Hugo—as well as awards for best actors, director, and writer—in North America’s longest-running competitive film festival.
New Directors Competition
This selection of first and second feature films receiving their U.S. premiere in Chicago celebrates the spirit of discovery and innovation upon which the Festival was founded. To be eligible for the competition, films may not have U.S. distribution and must be a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.
International in scope and representing a wide range of approaches to documentary form, this program offers a diverse cross-section of contemporary non-fiction filmmaking in both competitive and non-competitive sections. To be eligible for the competition, films may not have U.S. distribution and must be a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.
Short Film Competition
Annually showcasing the best short films from around the globe, this competition highlights the work of both upcoming artists and established masters in the short subject form. The winners of the Best Short Film and Best Documentary Short awards are eligible to be considered by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for the Academy Awards®.
After Dark Competition
Gathering genre films from horror and thrillers to edgy animation and dark comedies, this competitive showcase of future cult classics and midnight favorites offers an exciting mix of late-night fare.
From the edgy to the tender, these bold LGBTQ-themed films exhibit new artistic perspectives on sexuality and identity, and compete for the Q Hugo Award.
A mix of classic narratives and cutting edge forms, this program offers a snapshot of the contemporary cinematic landscape. Serving up the sights, sounds and stories from cultures around the globe, the films represent the latest from established masters, festival award winners, box-office hits, and hidden gems.
Now in its 18th year, this program showcases films that celebrate the richness and diversity of black cultures around the world and the filmmakers behind them.
Cinema of the Americas
Highlighting diverse and potent filmmaking trends south of the border, this program presents the fresh and vibrant work of emerging and established filmmakers from South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Spotlighting the contribution that female writers and directors continue to make to film around the world, this program features films as diverse as the women who made them.
City & State
This program celebrates Illinois’ rich filmmaking tradition, showcasing the best features, documentaries, and short films with their roots right here in Illinois. Films in this section compete for the Chicago Award, given to the year’s best local film.