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Chicago International Film Festival

Cinema/Chicago presents the annual Chicago International Film Festival, North America's oldest competitive international film festival, organized to encourage better understanding between cultures and its people and to make a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image.

46th Chicago International Film Festival Now Accepting Entries

O P E N  O U R  E Y E S

Coming out of a dark theater, everything seems brighter. Film illuminates the world. It opens our eyes. It shows us things we don’t see every day, makes us feel things we don’t always feel. For 45 years, we’ve been committed to taking you all around the globe to discover some of the most exciting cinema the world has to offer…yours!

This year, it’s more important than ever to recognize the impact of film. Across countries and languages and classes, film has the power to provide us with a release, an escape, a window into new worlds and new possibilities. When we started the Chicago International Film Festival 45 years ago, we had one simple goal: To introduce Chicago and the world to new filmmakers, new
stories, and new points of view. We’ve shown the first feature films by world-renowned directors like Martin Scorsese (USA), Peter Weir (Australia), Mike Leigh (UK), Gregory Nava (USA), Bertrand Tavernier (France), Jan Troell (Sweden), Joe Swanberg (USA), and Rainer Werner
Fassbinder (Germany). For the 45th Festival in 2009, I’m proud to say we stuck to that mission more than ever by showing 40 films by
first-time filmmakers. And 20 of our films came from female directors. It’s important to us that we’re always learning, always seeing the world in a new way.

In 2009, we presented 175 films from 50 countries. Many of these films participated in competitive sections, where the highest honor is the Gold Hugo—a standard of excellence in
the world of film and film festivals and a true symbol of discovery. We had more than 150 filmmakers, writers, producers, and actors flying in from all reaches of the world to present their films to Chicago audiences.

For our 46th year, we want to discover something new, and that all starts with you, the filmmaker. This Festival brims with energy—from the innovative and inspiring work of first-time filmmakers and established masters to the enthusiastic responses of our audiences. Be a part of the action by submitting your film to the 2010 Chicago International Film Festival.

Open our eyes. Share your creations with us.

Amaze us!

Michael Kutza, Founder and Artistic Director

 For entry information, please visit

Competitions and Categories

Films are programmed for public screening in a diverse selection of competitions and categories. Each film is presented in one or more of the following sections and is placed at the discretion of the programming committee.

International Feature Film Competition
Films that meet a global standard of excellence compete for the Festival’s highest honor, the Gold Hugo Award. The competition is judged by an acclaimed international jury of film professionals, including directors, producers, actors, and critics.

New Directors Competition
Directors who are presenting their first or second feature film are eligible to participate in this competition that recognizes and celebrates the work of fresh, creative talents.

The Docufest competition honors nonfiction films that surprise and challenge us. The competition is comprised of feature-length documentaries that exhibit the highest level of merit.

Short Film Competition
Annually featuring the best short films (narrative, documentary, experimental, student, and animation) from around the globe, this competition highlights the work of both upcoming artists and established masters in the short subject genre. The winner of the Short Film Competition is eligible to be considered by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for the Academy Awards®.

Gala Presentations
This non-competitive section of highly anticipated and critically acclaimed films showcases works that are believed to have a powerful impact on audiences in the U.S. and around the world.

World Cinema
This non-competitive series presents new work by internationally acclaimed filmmakers and spotlights new talent and unique voices from across the globe, representing a diverse spectrum of the world’s experience and filmmaking trends.

After Dark
Gathering genre films from horror and thrillers to edgy animation and dark comedy, this section showcases films not often presented in the Festival context for the chill seekers and lovers of camp.

Black Perspectives
A showcase for the varied and diverse talents of black filmmakers from all nations, this section annually spotlights new discoveries and honors such film icons as Lee Daniels, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Terrence Howard, Melvin Van Peebles, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Pam Grier, and Spike Lee, among others.

Cinema of the Americas
This program features innovative works by Latino/a filmmakers and exciting new voices from South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The films in the program are complemented by a series of master classes, panel discussions, and a tribute to a distinguished filmmaker.

Highlighting the finest of Illinois and Chicago productions, this section features the Chicago Award, which is given to the best film (feature, documentary or short
subject) either produced in Illinois or by an Illinois resident. The Chicago Award celebrates the creativity of local talents devoted to the art of cinema.

The International Communications Film & Video Competition celebrates the enormous technical and creative energy behind corporate sponsored and industrial films, educational videos, business communications, and interactive productions. A jury of distinguished media professionals judges all aspects of each production’s technical execution, including the work’s professionalism, creativity, and effectiveness in achieving its goals.

This section explores edgy new LGBT filmmaking with a focus on a diverse range of sexual perspectives and persuasions, seeking out both the artistic and the stirring.

ReelWomen celebrates the depth and diversity of work by women and highlights the inspirational filmmakers behind the films. Panels, roundtables, and a tribute event augment the film series.

With “The Human Condition”, we are bringing back a tradition, begun at the 4th Chicago International Film Festival in 1968, of presenting a unique competition. We challenge filmmakers from around the world to use the medium of film to address a particular question, concept, or issue in one minute. This year, we turn to the creative filmmakers of the world to explore “The Human Condition”. Filmmakers of all ages are invited to conceive, design, and produce an original 60 second film that complement who and what we are. The human condition—is it describable? What causes people to start a war? Grow a flower? Abide poverty? Create Art? Advance technology? Pollute the environment? Seek knowledge? Cure illness? Is there a difference between cause and effect, symptom and disease? What is our place in the world? What makes us who we are? Finalist entries will be screened at the Festival and online. Prizes will be awarded.

For entry information, please visit

About Chicago International Film Festival

Official Blog for The Chicago International Film Festival


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