50th anniversary Chicago international film festival

Chicago International Film Festival's 50th Anniversary Keeps Greatness Rolling

Sunday, October 05, 2014 Cora

Twenty-two year old Michael Kutza founded Cinema/ Chicago in 1964 and the first Chicago International Film Festival debuted the following year at the Carnegie Theatre. Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, this year kicks off October 9th and runs through October 23rd, abounding with innovative films and remastered classics.

Like many things creative in Chicago, the film festival is a place where people can get their start. Everyone involved in the film experience a large international festival and all that entails in an intimate setting. In 1967, the first feature film by Martin Scorsese, “Who’s That Knocking at My Door?”, was presented. Reviewing the film was one of Roger Ebert’s first assignments for the Chicago Sun Times. It’s a place of premieres and world premieres. John Lennon and Yoko Ono world premiered two short films in 1969. In 1975 “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” had its world premiere with Jack Nicholson and other cast members attending Opening Night. Film goers get to see cutting edge wonders in their hometown, achieving one of Kutza’s goals for “Chicago to be a home of appreciation of international film”. Each film festival has a “feel” to it; if you go here, you should expect this type of film. The Chicago Film Festival is thought-provoking, often experimental, a safe grounds for new ideas and new stories. Mayor Richard J. Daley told Kutza in the early days, “The films you show could lose me votes!” and declined public support. In 1969, he acknowledged the festival. A year later, Governor Richard Ogilvie supported the film festival, writing, “Too often, the avante-garde image of the filmmaker has been interpreted as antithetical to the mid-American ethic. But that is a view which disregards an essential element of that ethic: its firm foundation in the concept of original freedom. Film is free, as America is free.” And that is the spirit of the Chicago International Film Festival.
This is the fiftieth anniversary and it promises to be nothing less than brilliant, already nodding to the past in order to look to the future with its rebirth of Victor Skrebneski’s t shirt poster. “For fifty years, it has been my great pleasure to bring the most exciting work in contemporary international cinema to our audiences,” says Michael Kutza. “ This year, we also take a look back and shine a spotlight on some the groundbreaking work that has helped to make the Festival the enduring institution it is.”
He might call it an “institution,” but I would rather call it an incubator, a place where ideas, dreams, and realities intermingle to become something greater than what they could have done as individuals. I’ll be writing every week about the happenings of the Film Festival. I highly encourage you to check it out yourself. More information can be found at www.chicagofilmfestival.com

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