As fall begins to settle in, some of the year’s hottest films blowing into the Windy City. That’s right, the 57th Annual Chicago International Film Festival begins today, October 13 and runs until Sunday October 24th. In light of the ongoing pandemic, CIFF has shifted to a hybrid structure, ensuring that you can discover an indie darling or hidden gem either in a theater or from the comfort of your own home.
Given CIFF’s impeccable curation, it can be challenging to decide on just a few films to watch. That’s where we come in! We at Silver Linings Reviews have provided an early list of recommendations below, so that you can get started on your festival screenings as soon as possible. Be sure to check out CIFF’s full line up here and don’t forget to purchase your tickets (for either in person or virtual screenings) before they sell out! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe at the bottom of this page to get our latest coverage of the festival beginning tomorrow, October 14th.
Silver Linings’ Recommendations for CIFF 2021
Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia | 2021 | 98 Min | Mohamed Diab
Amira, a vivacious 17-year-old Palestinian girl, was conceived with the smuggled sperm of her incarcerated father Nawar, who she’s only ever known behind the glass wall of a prison visitation cubicle. Still, the young woman idolizes her father and vividly imagines life together as a family, along with her equally devoted mother Warda. But when a failed attempt to conceive another child reveals Nawar’s infertility, Amira’s world turns upside down.
Read our full review of Amira here!
THE BETA TEST
United States | 2021 | 91 Min | Jim Cummings, PJ McCabe
When hot-shot Hollywood talent agent Jordan Hines receives a mysterious purple envelope containing an invitation for an anonymous sexual encounter, the offer proves too tempting to resist. But the liaison has surprising ramifications. Jordan becomes ensnared in a web of conspiracy, paranoia, and guilt that threatens to upend both his career and his personal life.
Denmark | 2021 | 90 Min | Jonas Poher Rasmussen
Marrying striking animation and archival footage to breathtaking effect, Flee retraces one man’s harrowing experiences escaping life under Taliban rule. Amin Nawabi, a 36-year-old academic, recounts his childhood flight from Kabul in the mid-1990s, which took him first to Russia and then onto Denmark in search of a new country to call home. As he reflects on his traumatic past, Amin grapples with a painful secret in the present that threatens to derail the life he’s built for himself and his soon-to-be-husband.
HIT THE ROAD
Iran | 2021 | 94 Min | Panah Panahi
In the striking, humorous, and humanist debut feature from Panah Panahi—son of Iranian New Wave legend Jafar Panahi (The White Balloon, Crimson Gold)—a couple drives their two sons across the stunning countryside toward an unspoken destination. What awaits them remains a mystery for most of Hit the Road, but the journey itself is mesmerizing, even as rambunctious youngster (6-year-old Rayan Sarlak) gives everyone an earful.
THE SYED FAMILY XMAS EVE GAME NIGHT
United States | 2021 | 14 Min | Fawzia Mirza
All cards on the table when a queer woman bring her partner home for the first time.
Screens as part of Shorts 6: Side-Splitting.
THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
Norway | 2021 | 127 Min | Joachim Trier
Julie (Renate Reinsve, winner of the Best Actress Award at Cannes this year) is on the precipice of thirty and her life is an existential mess. Vaguely aware that she has squandered her talents and frustrated living in the shadow of long-term boyfriend, Aksel (Herbert Nordrum), a successful graphic novelist, she resists his entreaties to settle down. One night, she impulsively crashes a party and meets the young and charming Eivind (Anders Danielsen Lie). Will he be the key that unlocks a new perspective on life?
All film synopses are provided by the Chicago International Film Festival.