An annual, not for profit, competitive film festival organized to encourage better understanding between people and to make a positive contribution to the art of the moving image. The Chicago International Film Festival is the longest-running competitive film festival in North America. The Festival was started in 1964 by filmmaker and graphic artist Michael Kutza to provide an alternative to the commercial Hollywood movies that dominated the city’s theaters.
"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, stories and 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), Tsai Ming-Liang (Taiwan), and Wim Wenders (Germany). Last year we’re proud to say we held fast to that mission by showcasing over 40 films by first-time filmmakers. It’s important to us that we’re always learning, always exploring, always seeing the world in fresh ways".
- International Feature Film Competition: Representing a wide variety of styles and genres;
- New Directors Competition: This selection of first and second feature films receiving their U.S. premiere in Chicago;
- Documentary Competition: Selection of international documentaries;
- Short Film Competition;
- After Dark: Gathering genre films from horror and thrillers to edgy animation and dark comedy, this competitive section showcases films not often presented in the Festival context for the chill seekers and lovers of camp;
- World Cinema: A mix of classic narratives and cutting edge forms, this program offers a snapshot of the contemporary cinematic landscape;
- Out-look: 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.
- Black Perspectives: This program, created through a collaboration with director Spike Lee, showcases films that celebrate the richness and diversity of black cultures around the world and the filmmakers responsible for them;
- City & State: Illinois has a rich filmmaking tradition second to none. This program showcases the best features, documentaries, and short films with their roots right here in Illinois.
- Golden Hugo,
- Silver Hugo,
- Gold and Silver Plaques
The winners of the Best Live Action and Best Documentary Short awards are eligible to be considered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Academy Awards®.
- Films completed on or after October 1, 2020 are eligible for consideration.
- US premieres are given priority, but films must be at least a Chicago premiere.
- To be eligible for the New Directors competition, films may not have U.S. distribution and must be a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.
- To be eligible for the International Documentary Competition, films must be a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.
- Feature-length films (narrative or documentary) that are available for public online viewing in their entirety are NOT eligible. Short films (under 40 min) may be available online.
- Submissions are to be made via Withoutabox, Filmfreeway or directly via festival site.
- Feature-length films must be submitted on DVD or Blu-ray disc (online screeners are accepted in addition to physical media). Short films may be submitted on DVD, Blu-ray disc, or as an online screener hosted by Vimeo.
- Entrants are permitted to submit works-in-progress (i.e., without final color correction or sound mixing), but please note that the programming committee will only consider the version submitted. Subsequent cuts or replacement copies will only be accepted at the request of the programming committee.
- To qualify for student entry fee rates, entrant must include proof of student status at the time of production (e.g., copy of student ID, transcript, etc.)
- Subtitles language: English
City premiere required.
Jury and Organizers
- Alex Kopecky (Competitions Coordinator)
- Michael Kutza
- Mimi Plauche
- Rebecca Fons
- Vivian Teng.