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What to see at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival

Written by
Madeline Wolfson

This October, get ready to enter total movie madness at the Chicago International Film Festival. The festival never disappoints, bringing to the city every year a lineup packed with a variety of film fest favorites and features you haven't even heard of yet, but will know soon. After announcing the 2015 schedule, we can safely say that this year is no different. With over 130 international and U.S. features, directed by big names and newbies alike across every genre imaginable, there are more fantastic films than one viewer could possibly see from October 15 to 29.  Earlier this month, we gave you the inside scoop on four foreign films to snag tickets to during this year's fest, and now we’re here to highlight the top films we absolutely cannot wait to see.

45 Years
U.K. Dir Andrew Haigh
This eerie drama takes a haunting and troubling look at marriage, and what it means to love someone over many years. It gives us retired Norfolk couple, Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay), in the days leading up to their forty-fifth anniversary party. Haigh presents a sensitive and smart search for meaning in everyday, ordinary behavior that explores the limits of intimacy between two people. Saturday October 17, 3:30pm; Tuesday October 20, 6:15pm.

A Childhood (Une) Enfance
France, Dir. Philippe Claudel
This tender look at growing up through the eyes of a 13-year old boy is more than just a French take on the themes so honestly captured in last year’s Boyhood, and only partially due to the richness and universality of “the coming of age story” as a film genre. Acclaimed director Philippe Claudel (I’ve Loved You So Long) brings us the story of Jimmy, a boy who dreams of growing up enjoying family vacations and tennis, yet is forced to mature too quickly with a drug addicted mother living in poverty in a small town in France. Wednesday October 21, 6pm; Thursday October 22, 8:15pm; Monday October 26, 3:30pm.

U.S. Dir. Todd Haynes
Already garnering critical praise and award nomination buzz for the unstoppably brilliant Cate Blanchett (playing opposite Rooney Mara), this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt centers on the love affair between two women in New York during the 1950s. This will be one of the festival’s hottest tickets as well as a one of the must see films this fall. Be among the first to catch this anticipated melodrama at the festival before it opens nationwide November 20. Wednesday October 28, 7:30pm.

France. Dir. Jacques Audiard
The latest from acclaimed French director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust and Bone) comes to Chicago after winning the Palme D’Or at Cannes. The story of Dheepan, a Tamil fighter who flees Sri Lanka with two women who pose as his wife and daughter in order to seek asylum in Europe and faces violence on the outskirts of Paris where they attempt to start anew, pulses with the masculine emotion that we love from Audiard. The film ends with a scene that will keep audiences talking long after the credits roll. Friday October 16, 8:30pm; Saturday October 24, 5:30pm.

For Grace
U.S. Dirs. Kevin Pang, Mark Helenowski
Chicago Chef Curtis Duffy is the complex subject of this foodie doc, one we cannot wait to sink our teeth into. As the film follows the top chef in his pursuit to open one of the world’s best restaurants, we learn about his traumatic past as well as the incredible amount of drive and ultimately the sacrifice required to be one of the best. Sunday October 18, 8:15pm; Thursday October 22, 3:30pm; Monday October 26, 5:30pm.

U.K., France. Dir. Justin Kurzel
The powerhouse adaptation of Shakespeare’s infamous bloodbath starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard is already being hailed as a gorgeous and savage reinterpretation of the classic, with two spellbinding performers working at the top of their talent. While director Justin Kurzel’s visceral Mac B may not become the definitive screen version, it will undoubtedly be an incredibly raw piece of cinema we can’t wait to take in early before its December release in the U.S. Sunday October 25, 4:45pm.

If the lineup was to stop there, we would be plenty thrilled for this year’s festival, but there are even more films we’re revved up to see that you should put on your crowded calendar. Make room for the emotional romance of an Irish woman (Saoirse Ronan) who immigrates to New York during the 1950s in Brooklyn, the latest from writer Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy). For an ultra-black indie comedy set in a New Jersey rehab facility, add Nathan Silver’s Stinking Heaven to your list. Even with knowing the outcome, the dramatic story of the trapped Chilean miners promises a tension-filled film in The 33. David Verbeek brings a psychologically piercing profile of an emotionally-reserved drone operator in Full Contact, and make sure to catch Jeremy Carr’s Other Madnesses for a thriller centered around a man losing his grip while descending into bloody vigilantism.

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