Full Film Lineup, Schedule, Special Events and Guests


Full Film Lineup, Schedule, Special Events and Guests

FAST COLOR, with Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jordan Horowitz in attendance, to open 6th annual festival presented by Chicago Film Critics Association; EIGHTH GRADE, with filmmaker Bo Burnham in attendance, to close

(Chicago, IL) — The Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), the Chicago-area print, online and broadcast critics group that celebrates the art of film and film criticism, today announces the complete lineup, schedule and special guests expected for the sixth annual Chicago Critics Film Festival, May 4-10 at the Music Box Theatre. Opening Night on Friday, May 4 features the Midwest premiere of Fast Color, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (A Wrinkle in Time) as a woman whose superhero powers send her on the run; Mbatha-Raw and the film’s co-writer and producer, Jordan Horowitz (La La Land), will be in Chicago for the occasion. More information on the complete schedule and special guests is below and online; festival passes and individual tickets are also available online here.

Highlights of this highly-curated, week-long festival include:

  • First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke as a rural pastor whose life spirals out of control after an encounter with an environmental activist and his pregnant wife; filmmaker Paul Schrader is scheduled to attend the festival
  • Searching, starring John Cho (Columbus) as a father investigating his daughter’s disappearance through the digital footprint she’s left behind; filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty and co-writer/producer Sev Ohanian are scheduled to attend the festival
  • Leave No Trace, Debra Granik’s story of a single father (Ben Foster) and his daughter living off the grid until a single mistake derails their idyllic existence.
  • On Chesil Beach, Saoirse Ronan’s first film since the runaway success of Lady Bird, based on the Ian McEwan novel about sexual politics and freedom in 1962 England
  • A 25th anniversary screening of Steven Spielberg’s classic Jurassic Park on 35mm, celebrating the launch of one of the most successful franchises in cinema
  • Damsel, starring Robert Pattinson as a well-off pioneer who ventures West to marry the woman he loves, told with the off-kilter humor and unpredictability of directing duo David and Nathan Zellner, who are both scheduled to attend the festival
  • Bodied, a satire set in the world of competitive battle rap produced by Eminem; filmmaker Joseph Kahn is scheduled to attend the festival

Featuring over twenty-five programs selected with care by some of the most respected film journalists in the city, this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival includes four documentaries (Abducted in Plain Sight; Hal, about the career of legendary filmmaker Hal Ashby; Liyana; and Three Identical Strangers); presentations of two exceptional 35mm prints (a 25th Anniversary screening of Jurassic Park and Yasujiro Ozu’s classic Woman of Tokyo); and two short film programs scheduled to screen on Sunday, May 6 and Monday, May 7.

The festival’s Closing Night selection is Eighth Grade, written and directed by Bo Burnham and starring Elsie Fisher (Despicable Me) as a middle schooler enduring the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she survives the last week of the school year before officially making it to high school. A Sundance Film Festival official selection, filmmaker Bo Burnham will be in attendance to help close out the festival on Thursday, May 10.

Runner-up for Best Film Festival in the Chicago Reader’s 2017 “Best of Chicago” poll, the CCFF annually features a selection of acclaimed films chosen by members of the organization, a combination of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a variety of filmmakers, from established Oscar winners to talented newcomers. It is the only current example of a major film critics group that hosts its own festival. The best way to ensure access to every aspect of the week-long event is to secure a festival pass, just $150 and available online here.

The Chicago Critics Film Festival and the CFCA gratefully acknowledge the support of festival sponsors, including Abt, the Chicago-based electronics and appliances store, returning this year. Follow the CFCA and the festival on Twitter at @chicagocritics and on Facebook here.

The complete lineup for the sixth annual Chicago Critics Film Festival is below, including screening dates/times and special guests expected to attend. Explore the entire schedule and secure tickets/passes in advance at www.chicagocriticsfilmfestival.com. Select films are available for advanced review and interviews; interested media should apply for accreditation online here.

Abducted in Plain Sight (Documentary)

Director: Skye Borgman | 91 mins

Abducted in Plain Sight is the twisting, turning, story of the Broberg’s, a naïve, church-going Idaho family whose daughter, Jan, is kidnapped by the family’s best friend and neighbor. Twice. This true-crime documentary examines one family’s struggle with desire, deceit, faith and forgiveness. The Brobergs’ troubling admissions reveal epic failures and untold personal dramas that point to the biggest tragedy of all – that these crimes could have been prevented.

Screens: Thursday, May 10 at 6pm*

*Director Skye Borgman is scheduled to attend

American Animals

Director: Bart Layton | Cast: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner | 116 mins

Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

Screens: Wednesday, May 9 at 9:30pm


Director: Michael Pearce | Cast: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James | 107 mins

Moll is 27 and still living at home, stifled by the small island community around her and too beholden to her family to break away. When she meets Pascal, a free-spirited stranger, a whole new world opens up to her and she begins to feel alive for the first time, falling madly in love. Finally breaking free from her family, Moll moves in with Pascal to start a new life. But when he is arrested as the key suspect in a series of brutal murders, she is left isolated and afraid. Choosing to stand with him against the suspicions of the community, Moll finds herself forced to make choices that will impact her life forever.

Screens: Saturday, May 5 at Midnight


Director: Joseph Kahn | Cast: Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Rory Uphold | 120 mins

A satire set in the world of competitive battle rap, Bodied is the story of Adam Merkin, a progressive grad student who becomes an accidental battle rapper after encountering Behn Grym, a respected icon in the merciless sub-culture of poetic personal insults. As Adam makes his politically-incorrect climb up the ranks, he risks alienating his father, a renowned writer and tenured professor at Adam’s university, along with his skeptical girlfriend Maya, and all of his academic friends. His success breeds outrage however; Adam soon faces growing backlash on campus and the consequences of his controversial talent. Bodied explores the dangerous spaces of the world’s most multicultural and artistically brutal sport.

Screens: Saturday, May 5 at 7pm*

*Director Joseph Kahn is scheduled to attend


Director: David Zellner & Nathan Zellner | Cast: Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Forster | 113 mins

Samuel Alabaster (Robert Pattinson), an affluent pioneer, ventures across the American Frontier to marry the love of his life, Penelope (Mia Wasikowska). As Samuel traverses the Wild West with a drunkard named Parson Henry (David Zellner) and a miniature horse called Butterscotch, their once-simple journey grows treacherous, blurring the lines between hero, villain and damsel. A loving reinvention of the western genre from the Zellner brothers (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter), Damsel showcases their trademark unpredictability, off-kilter sense of humor, and unique brand of humanism.

Screens: Sunday, May 6 at 7:15pm*

*Directors David and Nathan Zellner are scheduled to attend

Eighth Grade (Closing Night Selection)

Director: Bo Burnham | Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson | 91 mins

Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school—the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year—before she begins high school.

Screens: Thursday, May 10 at 8:30pm*

*Writer/Director Bo Burnham is scheduled to attend

Fast Color (Opening Night Selection)

Director: Julia Hart | Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Strathairn, Lorraine Toussaint | 100 mins

A woman is forced to go on the run when her superhuman abilities are discovered. Years after having abandoned her family, the only place she has left to hide is home.

Screens: Friday, May 4 at 7pm*

*Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw and co-writer/producer Jordan Horowitz are scheduled to attend.

First Reformed (Centerpiece Selection)

Director: Paul Schrader | Cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer | 108 mins

The pastor of a small church in upstate New York (Ethan Hawke) spirals out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife (Amanda Seyfried) in this taut, chilling thriller.

Screens: Monday, May 7 at 7:15pm*

*Director Paul Schrader is scheduled to attend

The Guilty

Director: Gustav Möller | Cast: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi

85 mins | Danish w/ Eng. subtitles

When police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) is demoted to desk work, he expects a sleepy beat as an emergency dispatcher. That all changes when he answers a panicked phone call from a kidnapped woman who then disconnects abruptly. Asger, confined to the police station, is forced to use others as his eyes and ears as the severity of the crime slowly becomes more clear. The search to find the missing woman and her assailant will take every bit of his intuition and skill, as a ticking clock and his own personal demons conspire against him. This innovative and unrelenting Danish thriller uses a single location to great effect, ratcheting up the tension as twists pile up and secrets are revealed. Director Gustav Möller expertly frames the increasingly messy proceedings against the clean Scandinavian sterility of the police department, while Cedergren’s strong performance anchors the film and places the audience squarely in Holm’s tragically flawed yet well-intentioned mindspace.

Screens: Saturday, May 5 at 5pm; Thursday, May 10 at 2pm

Hal (Documentary)

Director: Amy Scott |  90 mins

Hal Ashby’s obsessive genius led to an unprecedented string of Oscar®-winning classics, including Harold and Maude, Shampoo and Being There. But as contemporaries Coppola, Scorsese and Spielberg rose to blockbuster stardom in the 1980s, Ashby’s uncompromising nature played out as a cautionary tale of art versus commerce.

Screens: Monday, May 7 at 9:45pm

Jurassic Park (25th Anniversary in 35mm)

Director: Steven Spielberg | Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum | 127 mins

In director Steven Spielberg’s three-time Academy Award®-winning blockbuster Jurassic Park, paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are among a select group chosen to tour an island theme park populated by dinosaurs created from prehistoric DNA.  While the park’s mastermind, billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), assures everyone that the facility is safe, they find out otherwise when various ferocious predators break free and go on the hunt. The groundbreaking epic that launched one of the most popular series in cinema history was originally released in theaters on June 11, 1993. Jurassic Park is based on the novel by Michael Crichton and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen.

Screens: Sunday, May 6 at Noon

A Kid Like Jake

Director: Silas Howard | Cast: Claire Danes, Priyanka Chopra, Octavia Spencer | 92 mins

A Brooklyn couple has always known that their four-year-old son is more interested in fairy tale princesses than toy cars. But when his preschool director points out that his gender-nonconforming play may be more than a phase, the couple is forced to rethink their roles as parents and spouses.

Screens: Wednesday, May 9 at 5pm

Leave No Trace

Director: Debra Granik | Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Jeff Kober | 108 mins

Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put into social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland.

Screens: Sunday, May 6 at 4:45pm

Liyana (Documentary)

Director: Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp | 75 mins

A Swazi girl embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. This animated African tale is born in the imaginations of five orphaned children in Swaziland who collaborate to tell a story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character’s journey is interwoven with poetic and observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.

Screens: Saturday, May 5 at 1:15pm

Madeline’s Madeline

Director: Josephine Decker | Cast: Miranda July, Helena Howard, Molly Parker | 93 mins

A theater director’s latest project takes on a life of its own when her young star takes her performance too seriously.

Screens: Sunday, May 6 at 9:45pm

On Chesil Beach

Director: Dominic Cooke | Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson | 110 mins

Adapted by Ian McEwan from his bestselling novel, the drama centers on a young couple of drastically different backgrounds in the summer of 1962. Following the pair through their idyllic courtship, the film explores sex and the societal pressure that can accompany physical intimacy, leading to an awkward and fateful wedding night.

Screens: Tuesday, May 8 at 9:45pm


Director: Marc Turtletaub | Cast:  Kelly Macdonald

Agnes, taken for granted as a suburban mother, discovers a passion for solving jigsaw puzzles, which unexpectedly draws her into a new world – where her life unfolds in ways she could never have imagined.

Screens: Wednesday, May 9 at 7pm*

*Director Marc Turtletaub is scheduled to attend


Director: Coralie Fargeat | Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe | 108 mins

Three wealthy married men get together for their annual hunting game in a desert canyon. But this time, one of them comes along with his mistress, a sexy lolita who quickly arouses the interest of the two others. Things get dramatically out of hand when the young woman, left for dead in the middle of desert hell, comes back to life and the hunting game turns into a ruthless manhunt.

Screens: Friday, May 4 at Midnight; Monday, May 7 at 3p


Director: Aneesh Chaganty | Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee | 101 mins

After David Kim (John Cho)’s 16-year- old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter’s laptop. In a hyper- modern thriller told via the technology devices we use every day to communicate, David must trace his daughter’s digital footprints before she disappears forever.

Screens: Tuesday, May 8 at 7:15pm*

*Director Aneesh Chaganty and co-writer/producer Sev Ohanian are scheduled to attend


Directors: Hannah Marks, Joey Power | Cast: Jeremy Allen White, Maika Monroe, Gina Gershon, Maika Monroe | 95 mins

A young couple’s relationship develops quickly when one of them is diagnosed with a life-changing illness.

Screens: Saturday, May 5 at 9:45pm; Tuesday, May 8 at 3pm

Support the Girls

Director: Andrew Bujalski | Cast: Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, Dylan Gelula | 94 mins

Lisa Conroy is the last person you’d expect to find in a highway-side “sports bar with curves,”– but as general manager at Double Whammies, she’s come to love the place and its customers. An incurable den mother, she nurtures and protects her girls fiercely–but over the course of one trying day, her optimism is battered from every direction…Double Whammies sells a big, weird American fantasy, but what happens when reality pokes a bunch of holes in it.

Screens: Friday, May 4 at 9:30pm; Thursday, May 10 at 4pm

Three Identical Strangers (Documentary)

Director: Tim Wardle | 108 mins

New York, 1980: three complete strangers accidentally discover that they are identical triplets, separated at birth. The 19-year-olds’ joyous reunion catapults them to international fame, but it also unlocks an extraordinary and disturbing secret that goes beyond their own lives – and could transform our understanding of human nature forever.

Screens: Tuesday, May 8 at 5pm; Wednesday, May 9 at 3pm

We the Animals

Director: Jeremiah Zagar | Cast: Evan Rosado, Raúl Castillo, Sheila Vand | 94 mins

Synopsis: Manny, Joel and Jonah tear their way through childhood and push against the volatile love of their parents. As Manny and Joel grow into versions of their father and Ma dreams of escape, Jonah embraces an imagined world all his own.

Screens: Saturday, May 5 at 3pm

Woman of Tokyo (35mm)

Director: Yasujiro Ozu | Cast: Yoshiko Okada, Ureo Egawa, Kinuyo Tanaka | 61 mins

Although the Japanese film industry converted to sound a few years prior, silent cinema continued to present opportunities for experimentation and refinement for Ozu. Two pairs of adult siblings attempt to eke out a living in Tokyo: a university student shares an apartment with the sister who pays for his education through office work while his girlfriend lives with her policeman brother. When the cop learns that the typist may be supplementing her income with disreputable side gigs, he inadvertently ruins one life and another in turn. This staunchly feminist tragedy envisions gender roles as pernicious traps for men and women alike.

Screens with A Straightforward Boy [Surviving Fragment] (35mm) (Yasujiro Ozu, 1929)

Screens: Saturday, May 5 at 11:30am

Presented by the Chicago Film Society. CCFF Passholders will be granted access to this screening.

About the Chicago Film Critics Association

The Chicago Film Critics Association supports and celebrates quality filmmaking that has something to say about our world, our lives, and our society. In the past, while the CFCA’s priority was to support and fight for the continued role of film critics in the media, the CFCA’s public interaction was limited to the announcement of its annual film awards. In recent years, the CFCA has expanded its presence on the Chicago arts scene, promoting critical thinking about cinema to a wider base through several initiatives, including the re-launch of a late-winter film awards ceremony; CFCA-hosted film screenings throughout Chicagoland; and a Young People’s Film Criticism Workshop at Facets Multimedia. The annual Chicago Critics Film Festival further builds on the organization’s goal to be an active part of the Chicago film landscape.

About the Music Box Theatre

For more than 30 years, the Music Box Theatre has been the premier venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films, festivals and some of the greatest cinematic events in Chicago. It currently has the largest cinema space operated full-time in the city. The Music Box Theatre is independently owned & operated by the Southport Music Box Corporation. SMBC, through its Music Box Films division, also distributes foreign and independent films in the theatrical, DVD and television markets throughout the United States. For more information, please visit www.musicboxtheatre.com

Festival Contacts

Erik Childress (CFCA Board Member) Producer – (224)805-1573 | kgouda@aol.com

Brian Tallerico (CFCA Board Member), Producer/Website Coordinator – e-mail: briantallerico@gmail.com

May 1-7, 2020 at the Music Box Theatre

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