The 10th annual Chicago Critics Film Festival took place at Chicago’s iconic Music Box Theater from May 5-11th. The festival included a good variety of films, from notable indies to international features. The opening night was highlighted by the screenings of IFC Films Blackberry (opener), Neon’s Sanctuary and Alex Proyas Dark City.
Blackberry director and star Matt Johnson was in attendance for the festival opener and for the post-screening Q&A. The closed with Theater Camp. Here are my fest favorites:
Christopher Abbott and Margaret Qualley
Abbott and Qualley dazzled in Sanctuary. A tour-de-force performance two-person showcase. I was so impressed by Qualley and her relentless intensity and work she put into her role in this film. I couldn’t get my focus away from her. She commanded each scene and was like a vacuum sucking the viewer into her on-screen allure. Similar sentiment can be shared about Abbott who was also dynamic and convincing, mirroring all that Qualley was delivering.
Celine Song’s masterful romantic drama is about former childhood friends crossing paths on a new continent. The themes the film presented are how the choices we make shapes our lives, destiny and ultimately the pursuit of love. I love films of this ilk. It’s a movie that makes you feel and think about life.
Filmmaker Laura Moss delivers a twisted and sadistic gore fest with birth/rebirth. A pathologist and nurse attempt to bring back a deceased child back to life. The plot is creepy in itself. It’s dark, twisted, creative and bloody. Just the elements needed for a fun horror experience.
Blackberry is a fun ride. It’s fascinating actually. The story of the first smartphone and the people who created it. It’s tech meets big business. Jay Baruchel and Matt Johnson star as two buddies who come up with the tech that lead to the formation of the infamous Blackberry phone. I thought this film had the right amount of comedy and drama. Very entertaining and enjoyable.
This deeply moving French film centers around a woman named Mia (Virginie Efira) who survives a mass shooting at a cafe. Mia attempts to find closure by reconnecting with the other survivors of the shooting. This film felt personal and sadly realistic based on the numerous tragic shootings that have occurred in recent years. Efira was outstanding in her role as this survivor trying to piece together her life after a life-altering experience.
Once again, in my view the festival was a success, The difference this year form the film selection was that several films showcased will be soon released in theaters or on vod. That was an interesting difference considering just last year you had several films that ended up releasing later in the summer or into the fall. I do wonder if it was just a programming coincidence this year or it was the planned objective.
This year was strong on dramas, but lighter on horror. Also, the festival showcased a good range of genres and representation in the selected films.
For more information visit Chicago Critics Film Festival