By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

CHICAGO CRITICS FILM FESTIVAL Announces Audience Award Winners, Exponential Festival Growth

(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 Audience Award winners following the 6th Chicago Critics Film Festival. Audiences selected Closing Night feature presentation Eighth Grade as winner of the Audience Award for narrative features; the film screened to a sold-out crowd as the festival wrapped up on May 10 at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theater.

Additionally, Three Identical Strangers, the incredible true story of three triplets separated at birth and reunited years later, received the Audience Award for documentary, while two short films tied for Audience Award honors: Runner, written and directed by Chicago-based filmmaker Clare Cooney, and We Forgot to Break Up.

The sixth edition of the festival also boasted the largest crowds to date, with a nearly 15% increase in ticket sales over 2017’s affair, the largest growth year-over-year for the highly-anticipated annual event. Special guests this year included Gugu Mbatha-Raw (A Wrinkle in Time) and Jordan Horowitz (La La Land) with Opening Night selection Fast Color; writer/director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) with First Reformed; Bo Burnham (The Big Sick) with his feature film debut, Eighth Grade; and many more. Images from the 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival can be found here.

“We’re beyond thrilled with the reception of this year’s festival,” said producers and programmers Erik Childress and Brian Tallerico. “Not only was it our strongest slate of films, as filmmakers and studios continue to recognize the audiences they can connect to through us, but the lines wrapped around the block throughout the week prove that Chicago film lovers are eager and hungry for the quality of films we present.”

As the week-long event came to a close, it was also announced that the Chicago Critics Film Festival would participate in the City of Chicago’s outdoor film series at Millennium Park, selecting Mad Max: Fury Road to screen Tuesday, June 12 at Pritzker Pavilion. The summer series features selections from several different film festivals around the city.

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 seventh edition of the festival will return in May of 2019.

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.

 

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch