By Christopher Renton

The 48th Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) is covering all the bases this year. Budgets and nations of all sizes are represented and local talent gets top billing. The festival is bookended with blockbusters by two natives: Fisher Stevens’ Stand Up Guys starring Al Pacino and Christopher Walken kicks things off tomorrow night and Robert Zemeckis’ latest offering, Flight, starring Denzel Washington is set to close out the two week run on the 25th. The latest Wachowski-sibling effort, the star-studded and time-bending Cloud Atlas, promises to be interesting and has been promoted as CIFF’s centerpiece.

With less fanfare, unfortunately, than their big budget domestic counterparts a few masters of contemporary international cinema will have their latest efforts screened, as well. Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami moves to Japan for his latest work, “Like Being in Love” and more recent Palme d’Or winners Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee) and Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) unveil Mekong River and Beyond the Hills, respectively. Holy Motors, a new film from french filmmaker Leos Carax, had a lot of people talking after it screened in Cannes this year and remains a must-see.

Michel Franco’s After Lucia has its North American premiere on Saturday. It, along with Peruvian Adrian Saba’s The Cleaner and Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux, appear to be the highlights of the “Cinema of the Americas Program” showcasing talent from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Make time for the late Raul Ruiz’s final film Night Across the City. His Mysteries of Lisbon became an instant classic when it was released in 2010.

Local indie filmmaker Kris Swanberg’s Empire Builder and the documentary As Goes Janesville are two Midwestern offerings definitely worth seeing.

All screenings will take place at AMC River East, 322 East Illinois.

For a full schedule, visit

For these two weeks Chicago is the place to see the best films in the world. Enjoy!


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