Chicago Film Festival announces International Feature Film Competition


Photo Courtesy of The Chicago International Film Festival

A still from the film “Paris, the 13th District” is shown above. Though the film was a buzz standout, it did not end up winning any awards at the Chicago International Film Festival’s International Feature Film Competition.

By Olivia Rosenberg, buzz Assistant Editor

The 57th Chicago International Film Festival concluded on a high note with its virtual award ceremony on Oct. 22. The festival is the longest running film competition in North America with a festival program containing a multitude of programs. With films from all around the globe, the international competition was stacked with impressive, diverse features. The list of films contains 13 pictures from countries ranging from Ukraine to Japan. The awards distributed were voted on by the festival’s five person jury. 

The main award of the festival, the Gold Hugo, was presented to Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film “Memoria.” The film stars Tilda Swinton as a woman living in Colombia who begins her search to identify the origins of a mysterious sound coming from the Earth. “Memoria” is set to have a uniquely limited theatrical release beginning on Dec. 26., where it will be shown on only one screen at a time on a week by week schedule.

The second place award, the Silver Hugo Jury Prive, went to “Drive My Car,” directed and co-written by Ryuske Hamaguchi. The Japanese film centers around Yūsuke, a man grieving the loss of his wife, as he discovers an outlet for his pain through directing a production of “Uncle Vanya.” The film also received the Audience Choice Award for Best International Feature which was voted on by festival goers. “Drive My Car” will represent Japan at the 94th Academy Awards in competition for Best International Feature Film. 

Other recipients include Peter Kerekes, winner of Best Director for “107 Mothers,” “Nobody Has to Know” leads, Bouli Lanners and Michelle Fairley, Best Male and Best Female and Kasper Tuxen for Best Cinematography for his work on “The Worst Person in the World.” Aleksandre Koberidze, writer of “What Do We See When We Look At the Sky,” took home the Silver Hugo for Best Screenplay while Sergey Fevralev received the Silver Hugo for Best Art Direction for his designing in “Captain Volkonogov Escaped.”

While there were numerous other awards presented in the International Features category, a few of the films from the program that stood out to me ended up being overlooked in the competition. Though I did not view all 13 films in competition, I had the opportunity to view a few films in the program. Two of my festival favorites, “Drive My Car” and “The Worst Person in the World,” were successful in their reception and won some of the highest awards at the festival. Both have been fan favorites as they had a lot of buzz and positive reception before they even screened at the festival. 

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“The Tsugua Diaries,” directed by Maureen Fazendeiro and Miguel Gomes, and Jacques Audiard’s “Paris 13th District” were two films that I had expected to take home some awards, but unfortunately, they were unsuccessful. They were innovative in completely different ways, yet both stood out to me amongst other competitors. 

The international feature that was my absolute favorite of the festival also left the competition empty handed. French filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s “Petite Maman” is a touching film about the connection between mothers and daughters with fantastical elements that bring the story to life. Sciamma won the Gold Hugo in 2016 for her film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” This year was her return to the festival with not only “Petite Maman,” but also with “Paris 13th District” which she wrote. Though it may not have received any of the festival awards, “Petite Maman” was by far my favorite piece in the program. 

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