The 49th Chicago International Film Festival is a mere three weeks away, but up until this point the Opening Night selection was a mystery. That all changed today, when the Festival announced that "The Immigrant" will open the two-week celebration of film on October 10 at the famous Chicago Theatre.
Set in 1921, "The Immigrant" stars Marion Cotillard as a Polish native who travels to New York with her sister. The siblings hope to start over with a new opportunity, but that dream is dashed when Ewa(Cotillard) learns that her sister is ill. Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner play cousins in the film. They may also be polar opposites: Renner plays Orlando, a magician who lifts Ewa's spirits, while Phoenix plays Bruno, a far more coldhearted man who forces her into prostitution.
The film marks Cotillard's first English-language lead role. Her career has spanned twenty years, but she became a household name in the United States when her role in "La Vie en Rose" earned her the Best Actress Oscar at the Academy Awards in 2008. She was last seen on the big screen in Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone."
"The Immigrant" is directed by James Gray, who is no stranger to film festivals. His first feature film, "Little Odessa", received the Critics Award at the Deauville Film Festival in 1994. His film also won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival the same year. The writer/director collaborated with Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix on "The Yards" in 2000, and after a 7-year break they reconvened for "We Own the Night." "The Immigrant" marks the fourth time Phoenix has started in one of Gray's films.
Gray will walk the red carpet at the Opening Night Gala, which begins at 6pm. This year's Gala is dedicated to the late film critic Roger Ebert. "Like the Festival, Roger strongly believed in the importance of supporting the work of rising filmmakers," said Chicago International Film Festival Founder Michael Kutza. "By honoring Roger's legacy, we are also paying tribute to all of the directors he supported early in their careers, like Festival filmmakers Errol Morris and John McNaughton, as well as to the spirit of the Festival."
Opening Night tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased online through the Chicago Theatre. VIP Tickets, which include a main floor seat and admission to the after party at The Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center, are also available.
The 49th Chicago International Film Festival runs October 10-24. The full schedule of films screening at this year's festival was released this week. Cinema/Chicago members can purchase tickets now. Individual film tickets go on sale to the general public on Saturday.