Preview: Stellar Weekend Kicks Off 2015 Chicago Critics Film Festival

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

”Shorts Program 1”

The programming on Sunday starts with “Short Films 1,” that includes some unforgettable titles. “Guest Room” is a tender examination of a woman dealing with adulthood, and a life-changing scenario; “SMILF” is a great seed of promise for writer/director Frankie Shaw, who stars in this little movie about a single mom who wants to … you know what (winner of the U.S. Fiction Award at Sundance). And of course, there’s Don Hertzfeldt’s “World of Tomorrow,” which many critics will tell you is not just the best short they may have seen in a long time, but could be one of the best films of the year. Check it out for yourself. (NA)

Sunday, 5/3, 1:00pm

”Slow West”

Writer/director John Maclean makes a very striking debut with this surrealist western, starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Ben Mendelsohn. The tale involves a young Scottish boy (Smit-McPhee) venturing through the wild west to find a girl he loves, and teaming up with a loner named Silas (Fassbender) in the process. The film is rife with excellent touches, including its color palette and shattering images of violence, and shows great promise for a director who knows his westerns, but also in how to make a fresh one. (NA)

Sunday, 5/3, 3:00pm

”People Places Things”

Will Henry (Jemaine Clement) is a graphic novelist, a professor at the School of Visual Arts, and the father of beautiful twin girls (Gia and Aundrea Gadsby). But Will’s seemingly picture-perfect Brooklyn life is turned upside down when he catches his longtime girlfriend and mother of his children cheating on him with a friend. A year later, Will is a single father living alone in a tiny studio apartment in Astoria and trying to put his life back together. In this thoughtful comedy, he must navigate the unknown landscape of single fatherhood and dating in New York City while remaining an inspiration for his students and coming to terms with himself as both a father and artist. (CCFF Synopsis)

Sunday, 5/3, 5:00pm

”Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World”

Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World
‘Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World’ is in the Spotlight for Sunday
Photo credit: Chicago Critics Film Festival

The subject of the film made headlines for days. The request from five year old Miles Scott, a boy suffering from leukemia, to the Make-A-Wish foundation got a major American city – and the whole world – to take notice. He wanted to be The Batman for a day, and the city of San Francisco practically closed down to fulfill that wish. The story is told in this remarkable documentary by Dana Nachman, which chronicles an amazing side of humanity, the side that wants to do the right thing for a ill child. (PM)

Director Nachman and writer/editor Kurt Kuenne will attend the screening.

Sunday, 5/3, 7:30pm

”The Keeping Room”

This western drama directed by Daniel Barber and written by Julia Hart (which landed on the 2012 Black List of Hollywood’s most celebrated unproduced screenplays) looks at the waning days of the Civil War from the unusual perspective of a pair of South Carolina sisters (Brit Marling and Hailee Steinfeld) left behind to work the family farm with the aid of a female slave (Muna Otaru) after the men have gone off to fight and presumably die in the struggle against the North. While wondering what the future will bring with the inevitable coming of Yankee troops, the three are faced with a more immediate peril in the form of a pair of advance scouts (Sam Worthington and Kyle Solter) who are on their own personal rampage and whom they are forced to fight off in an equally brutal manner. (CCFF Synopsis)

Sunday, 5/3, 10:00pm

BONUS: CCFF Short Films Programmer Reveals His Top Five

Colin Souter of and, and short films programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, named his top five picks of the various shorts programs this weekend – and one on Monday – for To quote him, “That was tough, so many great films this year.” Souter’s picks, with day and time of the shorts programs they will be present at, are 1: “World of Tomorrow” (Sunday, 1pm), 2: “Restoration” (Friday, midnight), 3: “Boxeadora” (Monday, 5pm). 4: “The OceanMaker” (Sunday, 1pm) and 5: “One Year Lease,” with an appearance by director Brian Bolster (Sunday, 1pm). (PM)

The 2015 Chicago Critics Film Festival will take place May 1st - May 7th, at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 North Southport, Chicago. Click here for film schedules and information. Click here to purchase tickets and passes. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2015 Patrick McDonald,

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