Indiana Daily Student

Chicago film festival highlights world\'s finest

Chicago -- One hundred five feature films from 31 countries screened in two weeks. \nThis is the insane reality of the oldest competitive international film festival in North America -- the Chicago International Film Festival. \nIts 36th incarnation began with a jam-packed Chicago Theatre applauding the American premiere of Robert Altman's "Dr. T & the Women, " starring Richard Gere, Oct. 6 and concluded Oct. 8.\nThe festival extended throughout Chicago, from the North Side's art house, the Music Box, to downtown's 600 North Michigan Theatres to the South side at University of Chicago's Doc Films.\nA jury of seven international cinematic professionals presides over three of the four main competitive categories that make up the Chicago International Film Festival, with many previously acclaimed and unknown works vying for top honors. The main event is the International Competition, which featured flicks from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the United States. \nIran's "A Time for Drunken Horses" and Mexico's "Amores Perros" had already received awards at Cannes while films such as Turkey's "Clouds of May" and Argentina's "The Adventures of God" were among the most awaited untested movies to be shown. The winner of the International Competition receives the festival's highest honor, the Gold Hugo.\nThe New Directors competition always receives a lot of attention since distributors, critics and viewers attending the festival are always looking to be the first to discover the next great auteur. The first and second features of the directors in this category that garnered the most attention were "101 Reykjavik," Iceland native's Baltasar Kormakur's coming-of-age black comedy and American native David Gordon Green's "George Washington," which has already been screened at numerous festivals including Berlin's and New York's. The winner of this category is given the FIPRESCI, the Prize of the International Film Critics, by a jury of five international critics.\nThe third competition is dedicated to the art of documentary. Eight documentaries were competing, with a few, like French New Wave veteran Agnes Varda's "The Gleaners and I," coming from proven filmmakers while others, like Tod Lending's work on a South Side Chicago family's struggle to survive, "Legacy," were directed by little known documentarians.\nThe final main competitive category belongs to the often-overlooked realm of short films. Four separate short film programs were presented throughout the fest, including "Chicago Meets the World," "Adventures in Outer Space," "Scottish Shorts" and "Animation Nations." Also, some short films preceded feature length presentations.\nOther festival highlights included acclaimed Hungarian director Bela Tarr's "Werckmeister Harmonies," Edward Yang's Cannes award-winning "Yi Yi" and South Korean Im Kwon-Taek's 100th-plus film, "Chunhyang."\nMany acclaimed celluloid veterans were celebrated. Lord Richard Attenborough received the Lifetime Achievement Award while actors Richard Gere and Laurence Fishburne and directors Joe Dante and Sabu were all presented with a Career Achievement Award. Harold Ramis was also awarded the Chicago Achievement Award.\nMexican and Cuban cinema celebrations also took place while a Black Perspectives series of films was shown in conjunction with a panel discussion.\nAn interesting addition to the festival was a critic's choice series, featuring six under-appreciated films chosen by the six leading Chicago film critics. Roger Ebert chose what he felt to be the best film at Cannes this year, Australian director Paul Cox's "Innocence," while Chicago Reader film critic Johnathan Rosenbaum chose the rarely-seen director's cut of John Cassavetes' 1976 work "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie"

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