“For its 48th edition, the Chicago International Film Festival brings it back home,” begins Bill Stamets in the Sun-Times. “‘This year’s fest truly puts the “Chicago” in the Chicago International Film Festival, because for the first time ever, the opening night, centerpiece and closing-night films are all made by directors born in Chicago,’ said Michael Kutza, the festival’s founder and artistic director.” CIFF 2012 opens tonight with actor Fisher Stevens’s Stand Up Guys, featuring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin. The centerpiece is Cloud Atlas, and while Tom Tykwer’s German, of course, Lana and Andy Wachowski hail from the Windy City. And the festival closes on October 25 with Robert Zemeckis’s Flight.
The Tribune‘s Michael Phillips talks with Kutza and his team as well, zeroing in on this year’s biggest change: “‘Two years ago,’ says festival programming head Mimi Plauche, ‘we had one full-time digital auditorium at the AMC River East… Last year, it was roughly 50-50 digital and film. And this year, only one of the seven houses we’re using is equipped for 35 millimeter. There’s not a single American-origin film on 35 this year. So it’s been a complete shift in a very short amount of time.'” Phillips has a handful of recommendations and calls out two more returning Chicagoans: Philip Kaufman, who’ll introduce a screening of his 1974 film The White Dawn, and Joan Allen, whom Phillips will be interviewing onstage on Sunday.
“If you want a small sample of the 71 features in competition for Best Foreign Language Film,” writes Ray Pride at the top of his list of recommendations at Newcity Film, “you can choose from Mexico’s After Lucia, a study of high-school bullying; Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills from Romania, a story of nuns at work in austere circumstances; and Canada’s War Witch, about an African girl kidnapped and forced to fight in war at gunpoint.”
The CINE-LIST focuses on international auteurs as well—Abbas Kiarostami, Ulrich Seidl, Jan Troell, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul—but the most seriously thorough previews of the festival’s first week come from the staffs at eFilmCritic and the Reader, both alphabetical, and Time Out, which has broken its guide down by dates and times.
Update, 10/14: “I’ve enjoyed most of the Uruguayan films I’ve seen in recent years (Whisky, A Useful Life, Gigante, and Norberto’s Deadline are the first examples that come to mind) and regard that nation’s cinema as one of the most reliably interesting in the world,” writes the Reader‘s Ben Sachs. “The current generation of Uruguayan filmmakers possess a strong grasp on character quirks, everyday disappointment, and the challenges of holding down a job—in other words, the nuts and bolts of living that most movies overlook. On the basis of The Delay…, director Rodrigo Plà seems another worthy member of this group.”
Update, 10/16: “What surprised me most about the screening of Paradise: Love I attended on Saturday night was how much warm laughter I heard in the audience,” writes Ben Sachs for the Reader. “I was familiar going in with the work of Austrian director Ulrich Seidl, so I knew to expect shocking imagery that blurred the line between art and exploitation; I even anticipated that some viewers would leave early in disgust (as they did at the Chicago premiere of Seidl’s Import/Export in 2008). But much of the audience, to my ears, seemed to accept the film’s explicit nudity and sex… Indeed, it’s surprising how innocent much of Paradise: Love feels. Seidl’s meticulous compositions have always reminded me a bit of Buster Keaton‘s, and here, he comes closer to G-rated comedy than I ever expected him to.” Earlier: Reviews from Cannes.
Updates, 10/21: Leos Carax’s Holy Motors has won the Gold Hugo for Best Film, Silver Hugo for Best Actor (Denis Lavant, of course), and the Silver Hugo for Best Cinematography, which goes to Yves Cape and Caroline Champetier. The complete list of awards.
Time Out Chicago‘s added a second round of reviews; for the Reader, Ben Sachs reviews Adel Yaraghi’s Meeting Leila, Bahman Ghobadi’s Rhino Season, and Darezhan Omirbaev’s Student; and here in Keyframe, Marilyn Ferdinand sent in a big report on all the goings on.