What You’ll See at the First Chicago Film Critics Association Festival

We asked the event’s producer how the CFCA chose which low-distribution films to screen at the Rosemont festival.

Photograph: A24 Films courtesy the Chicago Film Critics Association
 

Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now, one of the films playing at the upcoming CFCA Film Festival.

The Chicago Film Critics Association takes the leap into festival production with its first-ever CFCA Film Festival on April 12–14 at the Muvico Theater in Rosemont. The three-day fest spotlights films from other recent festivals that have low distribution and seeks to expose the pieces to larger audiences.

The event will feature screenings of more than 20 full-length and short films as well as daily Q&A discussions with special guests, like director William Friedkin (The Exorcist) and actress/director Sarah Polley. Ticket prices range from $10 for a single screening to $100 for the full weekend pass and can be purchased online.

Erik Childress, the festival’s producer and a CFCA board member, is part of the six-person film selection committee. He describes the selection process and some of his favorite films from the fest:

What was the film selection process like? Did you have a vote?
We took recommendations from people in the association who had seen films in other festivals and loved. There wasn’t really a vote or a veto committee kind of thing. Everyone would say, “I saw this film, and I loved it, so let’s play it at the festival.” And almost all of the films have not premiered in Chicago yet.

Why did the CFCA decide to host its own film festival?
We really wanted to be a bigger part of the film discussion here in Chicago, and we wanted to bring the discussion about these films to the community. It was an idea that was floating out there until we had the means to pull it off. It’s really expanded far beyond what we expected.

How so?
For any sort of new event like this, sometimes it’s hard to get it off the ground, but the overwhelming response when we were approaching studios is that they loved the idea of a festival that was really a celebration of film and had nothing to do with festival politics. It was always we love your movie; we want to show your movie.

What are some of your favorite films selected for the festival?
I Declare War and The Dirties. The Dirties starts as a hilarious comedy, and leaves you shaken toward the end. It will invoke interesting discussions, especially considering recent news. It’s about bullying and access to guns. Then I Declare War is a comedy about kids who play war in their backyard forest, like kids do with sticks, but in the film it’s visualized as actual artillery.

And we will screen a rare 35mm print of director William Friedkin’s sort of long lost movie Sorcerer (1977). It’s been tangled up in legal ramifications over ownership, so this is the first time it’s been screened in many years. Friedkin will introduce the film, and then there will be a Q&A discussion after.

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