I am so excited for the 2015 Chicago Film Festival. There is a plethora of outstanding films across all genres. Far too many for me to see in two weeks — over 130 films from 50 different countries. So, I whittled the list down to the following six films.
1. I SMILE BACK
Director: Adam Salky • US
Laney (Sarah Silverman) is an attractive, intelligent suburban wife and mother of two adorable children. She has the perfect husband, a pristine house, and a shiny SUV. However, just beneath the façade lie depression and disillusionment that send her careening into a secret world of reckless compulsion. Adam Salky’s harrowing second feature electrified this year’s Sundance Film Festival crowds with its unblinking plunge into the nature of addiction.
Official Website: http://www.sundance.org/projects/i-smile-back
2. FOR GRACE
Director: Kevin Pang & Mark Helenowski • US
After cooking his way through Chicago’s top kitchens, renowned Chef Curtis Duffy begins plans for his dream establishment, Grace. A delicious look at what it takes to build one of the world’s greatest restaurants, and the complex story of a man forging a new future out of his traumatic past.
3. SYL JOHNSON: ANY WAY THE WIND BLOWS
Director: Rob Hatch-Miller • US
Velvet-voiced soul singer Syl Johnson struggled for decades before leaving the biz in the 1980s to open a Chicago fried-fish chain. Since then, he’s become one of the most-sampled artists in hip-hop. With a lively soundtrack, this buoyant world premiere documentary celebrates one man who can’t stop the music.
Official Website: http://syljohnsonmovie.com/
4. 45 YEARS
Director: Andrew Haigh • US
On the eve of their 45th anniversary, a couple’s marital equilibrium is threatened when the husband’s past resurfaces in an unexpected way. Long-frozen secrets begin to thaw in this slow-burning domestic drama. Stars Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling both won top honors at the Berlin Film Festival for their gripping performances.
Director: Charlie Vundla • South Africa
In this intimate drama, a young African-American professor in Johannesburg falls apart after his wife leaves him for another man. His old school mate, now a homeless life coach, helps him get back on his feet. But when his wife reappears at his doorstep, she wreaks havoc on his fragile state of mind. Cuckold is an incisive vision of domestic turmoil and a sly take on betrayal and forgiveness.
Official Website: http://www.cuckoldthefilm.com/
6. TOUGH LOVE (Härte)
Director: Rosa von Praunheim • Germany
Synopsis: A violent German hustler, his innocent prostitute, and the shared histories of sexual abuse that bind them together: In this stranger-than-fiction romantic docu-drama, German New Wave filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim combines documentary and campy reenactments to tell the wild tale of Andreas Marquardt, now 59, a man who survived years of pimping, prison, and personal trauma to eventually find true love.
Official Website: http://m-appeal.com/M-Appeal.com/our_films/Seiten/TOUGH_LOVE.html