Skip to contents

Chicago International Film Festival To Offer Drive-In, Multiple Theater Viewing Options

Multiple world premieres and Chicago stories will be featured Oct. 13-24, including Joe Winston’s “Punch 9 For Harold Washington,” a documentary about Chicago’s first Black mayor.

Documentary film "Punch 9 For Harold Washington" tells the story of Chicago's first Black mayor.
Marc PoKempner
  • Credibility:

CHICAGO — Film lovers, prepare to be excited.

The Chicago International Film Festival is set for Oct. 13-24, and will screen movies at multiple city venues.

AMC River East 21 in Streeterville, the Music Box Theatre in Lakeview and the Gene Siskel Film Center in the Loop all will show films. There also will be exclusive drive-in movie screenings at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen and pop-up neighborhood screenings.

A full schedule will be released Sept. 20.

This year’s opening night film is Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” a “love letter to journalists.” The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in July and features a star-studded cast including Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Elisabeth Moss.

At ChiTown Movies, attendees can see the rock documentary “The Velvet Underground” on opening night, featuring a virtual Q&A with director Todd Haynes. 

For those unable to attend any in-person shows, virtual screenings will be available to viewers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin on the festival’s streaming platform.

Credit: Provided
Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” called a love letter to journalists, will be this year’s Opening Night film at Chicago’s International Film Festival.
Credit: Provided
Just one of the documentary films being shown during the festival, “The Velvet Underground” showcases the story of one of music’s most well-known rock bands.

Other films include Michael Pearce’s thriller “Encounter,” starring Oscar-nominated actors Riz Ahmed and Octavia Spencer; and “The Harder They Fall,” an action-revenge Western film starring Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Regina King and Idris Elba. It’s directed by Jeymes Samuel. 

For fans of political documentaries, there will be two world premieres on history-making mayors.

“Mayor Pete,” directed by Jesse Moss, follows Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg during his 2020 presidential campaign. Joe Winston’s “Punch 9 For Harold Washington” details the life of Chicago’s first Black mayor. Both directors will be in attendance. 

This year also is the 25th anniversary of the festival’s Black Perspectives program which showcases films from African and African-American filmmakers from across the diaspora. Another film from that program is “Citizen Ashe,” a profile of tennis champion and activist Arthur Ashe who is the only Black man to win the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open singles titles. It’s directed by Sam Pollard and Rex Miller.  

Director Rebecca Hall will also receive the festival’s Artistic Achievement Award.

Early Bird pricing for festival passes are on sale now. Individual tickets go on sale Sept. 21 for Cinema and Chicago members, and Sept. 24 to the general public. Passes can be purchased on the festival’s website.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: