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Frequently Asked Questions

At which theaters will the films be shown?

For your convenience, ALL Festival film screenings will take place at just one location: AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.) with the exception of Opening Night (Chicago Theater, 175 N. State St.)

How do I buy tickets?

There are three ways to purchase tickets to the film festival:

  1. PHONE: Call us at 1-312-332-FILM (no later than 24 hours in advance) or Ticketmaster
    (no later than 24 hours in advance) at 1-800-982-2787.

  2. ONLINE: To buy Festival Passes only, not individual tickets, from our website, visit the Festival Store. Individual tickets can be purchased (mid-September) at Ticketmaster (additional fees will apply). AVOID LONG LINES AT THE THEATER!

  3. IN PERSON at several locations:
    Festival Theater Box Office
    AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.)
    Starting mid-September, 7 days a week, noon-8pm
    (As of October 10, Box Office hours: one hour before the start of the first show to start of last show)

    Festival Box Office
    30 E. Adams, Suite 800
    Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm

What is on sale now?

Nothing is on sale right now. Festival Passes will be available for purchase in August. Visit  Ticketing Information on how to purchase Festival Tickets and Passes. Individual tickets will be on sale starting mid-September to the general public.

Should I buy my tickets in advance?

We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you purchase your tickets in advance to avoid sold out screenings and long lines at the theater. In 2012, over 72% of Festival films were sold out. The Festival Box Office (both locations) opens on September 18. If you’ve already booked your tickets through the Festival Hotline, please make sure you pick them before your first screening to avoid long line-ups. Buy early, avoid disappointment!

The film I came to see/wanted to buy tickets for is sold out/RUSH only. What are my other options?

Many films have multiple screenings. Check the schedule to see if the film is playing again and if tickets are still available. Otherwise, you can wait for a RUSH ticket.

To purchase a rush ticket:

1. Ask for a numbered card 30 minutes prior to showtime. 
2. Stand in rush line in chronological order.
3. If seats are available 10 minutes prior to show time, you may exchange your numbered card and $10 for regular screenings and $15 for special presentations (cash only) for your ticket. 

You must be present when your number is called in order to buy a ticket. Because seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis, rush tickets are always the least desirable seats and the available seats may not be next to each other.

Take a chance on another film. We work hard to bring you films you may never get another chance to see on the big screen. Make it an adventure and explore the celluloid jungle.

I bought a pass. Am I all set to see a movie?

No, you must redeem your Pass for actual film tickets before you will be admitted to a theater. Refer to the Schedule to make your film selections in advance, then visit a Box Office office to exchange your pass for hard tickets. Instructions for pass redemption.

Can I redeem my pass over the phone?

All Festival patrons who are holding passes must redeem them in person. Passes ordered directly by phone from the Chicago International Film Festival after mid-September will not be mailed, and can be picked up at one of the Box Office locations (see locations above). For additional questions, please call the Festival Hotline at 312-332-FILM (1234).

I bought tickets over the phone. Where do I get my tickets?

Your tickets will be available for pick-up at any Festival Box Office location. See Ticketing Page for Box Office hours. We strongly recommend that you pick up your tickets in advance, to avoid long line-ups on day-of performances.

I ordered a pass through the Festival Hotline but it never came in the mail. What should I do?

Passes ordered through Chicago International Film Festival's Hotline will NOT BE MAILED after September 18. Please visit a Festival Box Office to pick up your pass and exchange for film tickets. Please call the Festival Hotline at 312-332-FILM (1234) if you have any additional questions.

Can I buy a pass that gets me into everything?

Yes. If you join Cinema/Chicago at the Founder's Club level ($1,000 and above) you will receive ONE all-festival badges that will give you access to all regular film screenings and select special events. This level will not be available after September 15. Please call 312-683-0121, x108 for more information.

I have my tickets. Now what?

Unless you are coming to the first screening of the day, there is probably a film playing in the theater where your film will be. When you arrive at the theater, please find the line for your screening. If you need assistance, please find an usher or Festival Volunteer. Please ensure you are in your seat 15 minutes before your film's published start time.

I'm running late, but my ticket guarantees me a seat, right?

No. A ticket or badge only guarantees admission until 15 minutes prior to the scheduled screening. After that time, the Festival reserves the right to fill any vacancies by selling rush tickets to customers who are in the rush line.

Can I get a refund if I didn't get a good seat / don't like the film / missed the beginning of the film?

No. The Chicago International Film Festival cannot refund or exchange any tickets.

I missed my film. Can I get a refund?

No. The Chicago International Film Festival cannot refund or exchange any tickets.

The film I came to see is sold out. Do you have a wait list?

Many of our films sell out, even before the day of the screening, therefore we recommend that you buy tickets in advance. Everything in the schedule is on sale as of mid-September through Ticketmaster or by calling/visiting a Box Office. Rush Tickets (last minute tickets) may be available for each screening, based on seating capacity.

Do you offer a discount for seniors or students?

Our Student/Senior rate is $11 for regular films and must be purchased in person upon presentation of photo ID. There is no Senior or Student rate for Opening Night, Closing Night, Special Presentations, Tributes, and Centerpiece Presentations.

Is there accessible seating?

All of our theaters offer accessible seating. For Opening Night or Closing Night, please let the ticket agent know at the time of your purchase that you will require accessible seating. For other theaters, an usher will be able to assist you in securing seats for you and a companion.

What films do you recommend?

The Festival program showcases a wide range of films and genres from over 50 different countries to appeal to a broad range of tastes and interests. While some films are previews of the finest in contemporary world cinema and will be shown in theaters in the coming year, others are rare gems that can only be seen in Chicago during the Festival. We recommend you look through the Festival Schedule to find a combination of films that perfectly suit your tastes and others that will broaden your horizons.

I have children. What film is appropriate for them?

Most of our films are not rated and many contain adult material. You are in the best position to make the decision about what is appropriate for your children. We recommend that you research the films before attending the screening with your children.

Can I volunteer for the Festival?

We are always looking for volunteers to help with the Festival or in the office year-round. Please send an e-mail to to get involved.