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CHICAGO FILM FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Chicago has a long and illustrious cinematic history: Charlie Chaplin at the Essanay Studios in 1915, '80s classics like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Blues Brothers, modern day hits like The Dark Knight. So it makes sense that our city is home to notable and groundbreaking film festivals throughout the year.

Here's just a sampling.

HEADLINE EVENT: Chicago International Film Festival

Oct. 16 – 27, 2019

Chicago International Film FestivalChicago International Film Festival

Now in its 55th year, this is North America’s longest running competitive film festival. The renowned fest showcases more than 150 films from over 50 countries, filmmaker Q&As, red carpet galas, tributes, panels, and, of course, an awards ceremony.

ANNUAL FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Midwest Independent Film Festival

First Tuesday of the Month
Landmark's Century Centre Cinema
2828 N. Clark St.

This is the nation's only film festival solely dedicated to Midwest filmmakers, presenting audiences with regionally produced independent cinema. This year-round film festival sits proudly at the center of the independent film scene in Chicago and the Midwest.

Pride Film Fest

Year-round
Broadway Theater
Pride Arts Center
4139 N. Broadway

A monthly festival of LGBTQ+ independent films in one of the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities in the United States. Check out the full list of screenings.

Chicago Critics Film Festival

May 17 –​ 23, 2019
Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport Ave.

Music Box Theatre in ChicagoMusic Box

The Chicago Critics Film Festival lets moviegoers see some of the year's most talked-about films — before they make their commercial debut. The schedule comprises recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a wide variety of filmmakers, ranging from award winners to talented newcomers. 

Chicagoland Shorts

May 15 – December 31, 2019
Various venues

Chicagoland Shorts is Full Spectrum Features' annual touring short film series that celebrates the vastness of the Chicagoland experience and provides an outlet for those cinematic voices that often go unheard within the independent film community. 

Juggernaut Film Festival

June 2019
Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport Ave.

This one-day event celebrates science fiction and fantasy short films from around the world. The festival is presented by Chicago's Otherworld Theatre Company, whose mission is to further explore and promote the sci-fi/fantasy genre.

Millennium Park Summer Film Series

June 4 – Aug. 20, 2019
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Millennium Park

201 E. Randolph St.

Millennium ParkJay Pritzker Pavilion

This year's Millennium Park Summer Film Series will feature films selected by local theatre groups, in honor of the Year of Chicago Theatre. Bring a blanket, a picnic basket and enjoy a movie under the stars.

Chicago Underground Film Festival

June 5 – 9, 2019
The Logan Theatre
2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The Chicago Underground Film Festival, the longest-running "underground" film festival in the world, exists to showcase the defiantly independent filmmaker. Expect a selection of documentary, experimental, and avant-garde narrative film and video. 

Black Harvest Film Festival

August 2019
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N State St

Black Harvest Film Festival HogtownBlack Harvest Film Festival, Hogtown

Now in its 25th year, the Black Harvest Film Festival is a vibrant annual showcase of new work from the African diaspora, telling stories, raising questions, and touching on issues that relate to the African American, Black African, and African disaporic experience. 

Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival

August 2019
Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport Ave.

The Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival seeks out bold and innovative filmmakers who utilize story elements in a new and exciting way, presenting character-driven independent cinema that's fueled by the filmmaker's passion for the art without large studio support.

ReelAbilities Disability Film Festival – Chicago

August 2019
Various venues

ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest film festival in the country dedicated to sharing the lives, stories, and art of people with disabilities. 

The Chicago Onscreen Local Film Showcase

Aug. 26 – 31​, 2019
Various venues

The Chicago Onscreen Local Film Showcase gives local filmmakers the opportunity to share their work with a citywide audience through free outdoor public screenings in local parks. Previous showcase films have included Chicago premieres and world premieres, as well as festival-circuit favorites.

Chicago South Asian Film Festival

September 2019
Various venues

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival is one of the largest multicultural events in the heartland, and supports films from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet.

Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival

Sept. 19 – 29, 2019
Various venues

Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film FestivalFirst Girl I Loved, Dylan Gelula and Brianna Hildebrand (2016 Reeling Festival)

Reeling’s mission is to counteract the misrepresentation and stereotyping of LGBTQ+ people in mainstream media. The fest , the second longest running film festival of its kind in the world, showcases a range of genres.

Chicago International Social Change Film Festival

Sept. 28 – 30, 2019
Various venues

Chicago International Social Change Film Festival showcases films that document injustices and inspire audiences to create change.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema

Fall 2020
AMC River East 21 & other venues

Asian Pop-Up Cinema (亞洲躍動電影展) is a semi-annual film festival — every spring and fall — presenting a series of specially curated films in their original languages with English subtitles.

(In)Justice For All Film Festival

Oct. 3 – 12, 2019
Various venues

The (In)Justice for All Film Festival seeks to use the power of film to help end the epidemic of mass incarceration. In addition to screening films, the festival hosts events to increase understanding around the issues of mental health, drug addiction and abuse, harsh juvenile sentencing, the drug war, and more.

Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema

Oct. 18 – 28, 2019
Various venues

The mission of the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema is to share an appreciation of globally recognized Israeli cinematic achievements and diverse culture with the community at large, and serving as a catalyst for multicultural dialogue.

Chicago International Children's Film Festival

Nov. 1 – 10, 2019
Various locations

Each year, the Chicago International Children's Film Festival presents the best 250+ short and feature films for children and youth from 45+ countries. Experience the joy and power of film through premiere screenings, hands-on workshops, and discussions with filmmakers.

Chi-Town Multicultural Film Festival

Nov. 2, 2019
Various venues

The Chi-Town Multicultural Film Festival provides nationwide exposure for thought-provoking, envelope-pushing films. It focuses on stories, people, and passions that are too often unexplored in mainstream filmmaking. 

MOSTRA IX: Brazilian Film Series Chicago

November 2019
Various venues

MOSTRA (meaning “exhibit” in Portuguese) is the largest Brazilian film festival in the Midwest. The event's goal is fostering conversations about social issues between academia, filmmakers, and students through Brazilian films with social conscience.

Chicago Polish Film Festival

November 2019
Various venues

This is the world’s most extensive showcase of Polish film and the largest annual Polish cultural event outside of Poland.

Chicago International REEL Shorts Festival

November 2019
Chicago Filmmakers Theater
5243 N. Clark St.

A festival created and designed to celebrate the art of the short film, featuring various themed categories.

Stranger Than Fiction Documentary Premieres

JANUARY 2020
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N. State St.

This annual showcase celebrates the art of the documentary, presenting the Chicago debuts of new documentary releases. Many different nations are represented in films, offering perspectives from Israel to Japan and Mexico to Qatar.

Festival of Films from Iran

February – March 2020
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N. State St.

This festival showcases Chicago premieres of new films from Iran and the Iranian diaspora, as directors continue to overcome challenges and circumvent taboos to bring their work to the world. 

Chicago Irish Film Festival

February – March 2020
Various venues

The Chicago Irish Film Festival is a four-day event that presents a selection of shorts, narrative features, and documentaries by Irish filmmakers and filmmakers of Irish heritage.

JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival

March 2020
Various venues

The JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival is a no-holds barred approach to diversity and the strong Jewish contributions to world culture. The fest showcases films that resonate across age groups for families, young adults, and seniors. 

One Earth Film Festival

March 2020
Various venues

One Earth Film Festival utilizes compelling environmental films and engaging programming to bring about an understanding of climate change, sustainability, and the power of people. 

Chicago Feminist Film Festival

February – March 2020
Film Row Cinema
8th floor, 1104 S. Wabash

The Chicago Feminist Film Festival showcases independent film — predominantly shorts — spanning documentary, fiction and experimental genres, and aims to address issues of gender, sexuality, race, and other forms of inequality. 

The Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival

March 2020
5720 N. Ridge Ave. 

Onion City is one of the few international festivals exclusively devoted to experimental film and video. The mission of Onion City is to provide local audiences with an opportunity to view a wide range of contemporary experimental works that represent differing styles, forms, and nationalities. 

Peace On Earth Film Festival

March 2020
Davis Theater
4614 N Lincoln Ave

The Peace On Earth Film Festival presents films, discussion panels and outreach programming to foster change and demonstrate progressive steps toward social justice and an eco-balanced world.

Chicago European Union Film Festival

March – April 2020
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N. State St.

North America’s largest showcase of European Union cinema presents over 60 premieres from 28 EU nations, and features filmmaker appearances, discussions, and special events. 

In/Motion International Dance Film Festival

March 2020
Various venues

The In/Motion International Dance Film Festival connects Chicago's vibrant dance and film communities with national and international artists through short and feature dance film screenings, Q&As, workshops, live performances, dance classes, panel discussions, and networking events. 

Chicago Latino Film Festival

March – April 2020
AMC River East 21 Theaters
322 E. Illinois St.

The Chicago Latino Film Festival is considered the largest, most comprehensive Latino film festival in the United States, presenting over 100 films of cultural and social significance from Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and the United States.  

Sound of Silent Film Festival

April 2020
Davis Theater
4614 N. Lincoln Ave.

Sound of Silent Film Festival - Image

Featuring newly composed scores performed live to modern silent films from around the world, this one-night-only event is a don’t miss.

The Annual Asian American Showcase

April 2020
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N State St

The annual Asian American Showcase is a unique festival that features the diverse voices of Asian American filmmakers through narrative features, documentaries, and shorts. 

CineYouth Festival

April 2020
Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport Ave.

The Chicago International Film Festival’s annual CineYouth Festival showcases short films made by filmmakers 22 years old and younger from around the world. CineYouth strives to encourage the talent of young artists and to provide them with the opportunity to tell their stories, network with their peers, and be recognized for their creativity. 

Chicago Comedy Film Festival

April 2020
Columbia College Chicago
1104 S. Wabash St.

The Chicago Comedy Film Festival is committed to bringing independent comedy to the screen, with a goal of supporting comedy filmmaking as a vital and influential art form. 

CHICAGO PALESTINE FILM FESTIVAL

APRIL 2020
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N State St

This annual festival represents the spirit and mood of contemporary Palestinian life. Now in its 178h year, this is the longest-running Palestinian film festival of its kind in the world.

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