The 49th Chicago International Film Festival has concluded its first week. Screenings of James Gray's "The Immigrant" and the Festival Centerpiece "Nebraska" have concluded. Actor Bruce Dern and director George Tillman, Jr.("The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete") have been honored. Today begins a fully-stacked final weekend in terms of Festival Screenings. Next Wednesday the "Best of the Fest" screenings will begin, followed by a screening of the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" closing out the Festival on the evening of October 24.
Here are some of today's notable screenings:
"Imbabazi: The Pardon"
"Imbabazi: The Pardon" is definitely one of the most amateurish productions included in this year's local film celebration. The acting is really rough at times, and at certain points the viewer will think that the film editor was trying to cut for a trailer. Rwandan filmmaker Joel Karekezi draws on his own personal experience as he tells a story of two best friends who end up on opposite sides of the ethnic civil war that occurred in the early 90's.
Technical details aside, the film is a short emotional roller coaster. The viewer follows the rise and fall of Manzi and Karemera's friendship, and a short running time of 73 minutes is plenty of time to become invested in the characters. A film like "Imbabazi: The Pardon" is what the Chicago International Film Festival is all about.
"Imbabazi: The Pardon" screens tonight at 8:30pm. It also screens on Sunday, October 20 at 4pm, and once more on October 21 at 2pm. PLEASE NOTE: The October 20 screening will occur at Logan Theatre, not at the AMC River East 21 location.
"Chasing Fireflies" has just enough emotional gusto to keep the viewer from falling away into certain boredom(and potential dozing). Early on, the film is as slow as its setting: Manrique's job is to watch over an abandoned salt mine in Colombia, a spot situated right next to the Caribbean. His only human contact is the voice at the other end of a two-way radio. The man insists on sharing a joke every day, much to his bemusement(and Manrique's annoyance).
Manrique patrols the area everyday, looking for anything out of the ordinary. He even carries binoculars, but never seems to see much of anything. That is until his daughter Valeria shows up. Valeria and Manrique are forced to address their distanced relationship and come to a middle ground in a remote location that could certainly be considered the middle of nowhere.
"Chasing Fireflies" screens today at 5:30pm and once again on Saturday at 11:45am.
"The Invisible Collection"
"The Invisible Collection" is a drama that feels very incomplete, and in that case almost fits its title. Young Brazilian Beto sets out on an excursion to a remote plantation in search for rare works of art that his late father had sold. The pieces could be the answer to his money woes. Click here for my full review.
"The Invisible Collection" screens today at 6:15pm and on October 22 at 3:30pm.
"Despite The Gods"
"Despite The Gods" introduces the world to Jennifer Lynch, daughter of the legendary filmmaker and storyteller David Lynch. The filmmaker("Boxing Helena", "Surveillance") traveled to India to make a film called "Hisss", and the production became the focus of the documentary "Despite The Gods."
Director Penny Vozniak focuses much of the attention on the day-to-day on set of "Hisss", but the personality of Lynch certainly overshadows the behind-the-scenes element of the film. By the time "Despite The Gods" nears its end, the film is nearly(and almost literally) forgotten. "Despite The Gods" is another portrait of a larger-than-life character in the tradition of "Exit Through The Gift Shop" and another festival doc selection this year, "I Will Be Murdered."
"Despite The Gods" screens this evening at 5:45pm.