Last year’s Chicago International Film Festival was the best in my eight years of living here. But now in its 31st year the festival seems to be sliding back toward some of its past problems. I don’t want to sound too alarmist about an event that’s showing several indispensable works, most of which would be impossible to see without the festival’s initiative. At least half are U.S. premieres, and we all should be properly grateful for this bounty.
But it’s also clear that the recent resignation of festival coprogrammer Marc Evans– over creative differences with director and founder Michael Kutza–has had consequences that are already visible in the program. Though Evans estimates that he was responsible for roughly a third of this year’s selections, his long-term efforts to cut down on the festival’s excesses and lack of selectivity have been undermined. The bane of last-minute schedule changes–always a problem with the Chicago festival, though one that Evans helped to minimize–is already back with a vengeance: as we go to press, a new festival schedule has just been printed to replace the original handout, and readers are advised to call and check whenever possible. Another problem, for which apparently neither Kutza nor Evans can be blamed, is the loss of Pipers Alley as a central festival screening facility.… Read more »