Festival favorites starring Sam Neill, Lea Seydoux, Craig Robinson, Vincent Cassel, Nick Jonas, James Franco, Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka and Adrien Grenier to have their Chicago premieres
Now in its fourth year, the Chicago Critics Film Festival is pleased to announce the first wave of titles that will be screening as part of this year’s event. The first film festival to be created and curated entirely by film critics, this year’s lineup will include the latest works from such acclaimed directors as Christophe Gans, Chad Hartigan and Taika Waititi and stars like Sam Neill, Lea Seydoux, Emma Roberts, Craig Robinson, Vincent Cassel, Kiernan Shipka and Adrien Grenier, all of which will be making their local debuts. The festival will run May 20-26, 2016 and will be held once again at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre. Passes are now on sale here.
Created by the Chicago Film Critics Association in 2013, the festival offers a selection of films comprised of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a wide variety of filmmakers ranging from award winners to talented newcomers chosen by members of the organization, the only current example of a major film critics group hosting its own festival. The seven titles announced today come from around the world and offer viewers an eclectic variety of films that includes an epic fantasy, dark psychological dramas and comedies ranging from the heartwarming to the deeply disturbing. This is only a preview of a program that will include over 25 films.
The CCFF is proud to announce that the following titles will be a part of this year’s program:
Beauty and the Beast: Christophe Gans, the director of such visually stunning films as “Brotherhood of the Wolf” and “Silent Hill,” unites two of France’s biggest stars, Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux, to produce this lavish live-action version of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s classic fantasy story that has already served as the basis for two classic screen adaptations from Jean Cocteau and Disney. For those of you who somehow missed those, it tells the story of a beautiful young woman who agrees to become the prisoner of a ferocious beast in order to save her beloved father’s life and eventually learns that there is more to him than his gruff exterior would suggest.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter: Set on a nearly deserted prep school campus during winter break, the debut feature from writer/director Oz Perkins (son of Anthony Perkins) follows two students (Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton) who have been left behind and a young woman (Emma Roberts) who has just left the hospital and is hitchhiking towards the school with a seemingly good-natured couple (James Remar and Lauren Holly). Needless to say, something is clearly amiss but what exactly it is and how it connects these seemingly unrelated characters is what gave audiences a start when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it was formerly known as “February”.
Goat: Co-written by David Gordon Green and based on the memoir by Brad Land, this harrowing drama follows a 19-year-old boy, who, following a brutal assault, pledges the college fraternity to which his older brother belongs. As the hazing rituals grow more and more dangerous, he finds himself reconsidering his loyalty to both his brother and his new-found allies. Directed by former documentarian Andrew Neel and co-starring Nick Jonas and James Franco, the film offers an eye-opening look at some of the more appalling aspects of masculinity in contemporary society.
Hunt For the Wilderpeople: From Taika Waititi, the writer-director-star of “What We Do In The Shadows,” comes the comedic coming-of-age story of Ricky (Julian Dennison), an unruly orphan boy who is dropped off at a remote farm with the latest in a long string of foster parents, the cheerful Aunt Bella and the more taciturn Uncle Hec (Sam Neill). For a while, everything works out fine, but when a tragedy strikes that threatens to remove Ricky to another family, he and Uncle Hec take off into the bush and, thanks to a series of odd events, unexpectedly find themselves at the center of a nationwide manhunt.
Life, Animated: Based on the memoir by Ron Suskind, this documentary tells the story of his autistic son Owen and how they still managed to communicate with each other utilizing characters and dialogue from Disney animated films that were the only thing that seemed to truly engage the boy. Mixing live-action and animation, the film shows how Owen was able to utilize his responses to these films as a way to explore his own personal feelings while growing up, and to help him as he makes his first steps towards adulthood and independence.
Morris From America: Directed by Chad Hartigan (whose previous feature, “This is Martin Bonner,” was part of the first Chicago Critics Film Festival), this crowd-pleasing comedy follows the adolescent misadventures of a 13-year-old American boy (Markees Christmas) growing up in Germany while living with his father (Craig Robinson). This film was a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and a Special Jury Award for Individual Performance for Robinson.
Trash Fire: In this super-dark comedy with horrific overtones from Richard Bates Jr. (whose “Excision” managed to make even the most dedicated genre buffs squirm in their seats), Adrien Grenier stars as an unpleasant young man who, to please his pregnant girlfriend (Angela Trimbur) and prove that he can be a reliable father figure, agrees to visit the estranged grandmother (Fionnula Flanagan) and sister (Annalynn McCord) that are his only living relatives. Although the two make the trip in order to allow him to bury the hatchet at last, they soon discover that family ties can choke as well as bind.