A scene from ‘Cloud Atlas’

The 48th Chicago International Film Festival kicks off October 11, but tickets are already selling out on the hottest shows. While emphasis is (obviously) on the international, the Windy City has contributed its fair share of talent to the mix—most notably in Lana and Andy Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas, which was selected as the Festival’s Centerpiece Film. Here’s a look at six other flicks with a local connection.

Themes of unfulfilled dreams and fleeting celebrity pervade Benji, a documentary about Ben Wilson, a promising high school basketball player for the South Side’s Simeon High School (Derrick Rose’s alma mater) murdered shortly before the start of his senior year. Coodie, half of the directing duo Coodie & Chike, hails from Chicago and directed Kanye West’s breakout video, “Through the Wire.”

Stand Up Guys
Fisher Stevens—who grew up in Chicago before moving to New York—helms this action comedy starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin as three retired gangsters reuniting for one last good time. The catch? One of the trio (Walken) is pegged to snuff another (Pacino). Poetic bonus: Tom Rosenberg, who testified against Springfield political boss William Cellini, produced the film.

Imagine if Sully Sullenberger had been drinking before manning the plane that he eventually ditched in the Hudson River, then replace Sullenberger with Denzel Washington. That’s the basic premise of Flight, the first live-action film from Robert Zemeckis—a South Side native—since 2000’s Cast Away.

Consuming Spirits
Nearly 15 years in the making, Spirits is the darkly imagined story of three characters with a “long diabolical history, revolving around social service intervention, and foster care, romance and hatred.” Chris Sullivan, a professor at the School of Art Institute, is the man behind this eerie amalgam of animation styles that includes stop motion, pencil drawings, and cut-out puppets.

This 10-minute documentary follows the daily lives of three Mexican immigrants working for Chicago’s largest window-washing service, Corporate Cleaning Services. Nadav Kurtz, the director, got the idea while watching the washers outside his 25th floor office at 515 N. State, where he was working at the time.

The Believers
Clayton Brown, a lecturer at Northwestern University’s School of Communications, and Monica Long Ross co-direct this documentary about the history and continuing legacy of cold fusion, the Holy Grail of unlimited energy supposedly debunked as the delusions of two fraudulent scientists.


Photograph: Coutesy of Warner Bros.