a Black woman with long orange hair and tattoos sits in an office or classroom
The African Desperate (2022). Courtesy Gene Siskel Film Center

It’s almost autumn, which means it’s time to put on our sweaters, light up our pumpkin spice-scented candles, and watch Hocus Pocus on DVD for the thousandth time. Or, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, check out what the Chicago film scene has to offer this fall. From horror movie fests and indie short films to the best in queer and international cinema, you’re guaranteed to find something new to watch this season. And with even more film event lineups—like the Black Harvest International Film Festival and the 34th Annual Polish Film Festival—yet to be announced, this fall is shaping up to be a wildly entertaining one. 

The work of Tsai Ming-liang at the Gene Siskel Film Center

Through October 3 

The Gene Siskel Film Center at SAIC is spotlighting the work of trailblazing Taiwan-based filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang this fall. Known for his long shots and artistic cinematography, Ming-liang’s work explores social disconnect and urban alienation in a truly unique and sometimes unsettling way. Visit the Gene Siskel Film Center for screenings of his films Stray Dogs and Days. An in-person lecture and Q&A with the director himself wraps up the series on October 3. siskelfilmcenter.org/tsai

Cinema/Chicago Presents My Father Marianne

September 21 

Visit Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center to catch the tail end of Cinema/Chicago’s free summer programming. In the final event of the season, watch director Mårten Klingberg artfully translate Ester Roxberg’s 2014 autobiographical novel to the screen. My Father Marianne (Min pappa Marianne in its original Swedish) follows twentysomething Hanna as she moves back in with her parents and learns that her father, a respected priest, is transgender. chicagofilmfestival.com/film/my-father-marianne

Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival

September 22 to October 6 

The 40th annual Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival is here! This event showcases a diverse range of new queer cinema, from mainstream movies like Bros (dir. Nicholas Stoller) to unique intersectional narratives. Two Eyes (dir. Travis Fine) is a cinematic triptych exploring multiracial genderqueer identity over three generations; and Manscaping (dir. Broderick Fox), copresented by Brave Space Alliance, follows the owners of three unconventional queer barbershops who challenge what it means to be a man. With over 50 groundbreaking films, this is a can’t-miss event for LGBTQ+ cinephiles. In-person and streaming passes are available now. reelingfilmfest.org

Chicago Horror Film Festival

September 24 and 25 

Get in the spirit of spooky season with the 23rd annual Chicago Horror Film Festival. Showing at Cinema Chatham, this weekend event features indie shorts and full-length films that span the breadth of the horror genre—from classic slashers and psychological thrillers to sci-fi stories and convention-breaking spoofs, there’s something for everyone. The fest also features vendors, after-hours events, free snacks, and more. chicagohorrorfest.com

Chicagoland Shorts Volume 8

September 29 

Hosted by The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern, the latest collection of Full Spectrum Features’s Chicagoland Shorts explores the experience of the outsider who yearns for connection. Featured short films include Warren? (dir. Juan C. Linares), considering the identity and experiences of a white-passing Latino; Silver Lining (dir. Yanyi Xie), a documentary about a Chicago drag artist coping with COVID-19 quarantine; and First Week Out, which chronicles a man’s first week of freedom after 42 years behind bars. This event is free and open to the public. www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu

Screening of The African Desperate

September 30

The Gene Siskel Film Center presents SAIC alum Martine Syms’s debut feature-length film, The African Desperate. The story follows a day in the life of Palace, a recent MFA graduate who hopes to escape microaggressive white academia by returning home to 

Chicago. The African Desperate promises to be a fast-paced, darkly funny, scathing exploration of white liberalism, creative spaces, and complex interpersonal relationships. siskelfilmcenter.org/african-desperate

Various Artists independent Film Festival

October 7 and 8

The sixth annual Various Artists independent Film Festival (VAiFF) is a yearlong indie film competition culminating in two days full of screenings, awards, symposiums, and live music and dance. Come for genre-defining and -defying features and shorts, stay for the live jazz and for talks with guest artist Carl Jones (The Boondocks, Black Dynamite). Virtual and in-person passes are on sale now. vaiff.com

The 58th Chicago International Film Festival

October 12 to 23

Now in its 58th year, the Chicago International Film Festival showcases the best in international cinema, along with Q&As, discussions, panels, networking events for aspiring filmmakers, and more. While the full lineup has yet to be announced, early bird tickets are on sale now. This event promises to be eye-opening for moviegoers, industry professionals, and everyone in between. chicagofilmfestival.com/festival/

Screening of Andy Warhol’s Batman Dracula

November 3

Moviegoers who want a more artsy (read: campy and queer) horror experience this Halloween season are encouraged to visit the Gene Siskel Film Center for their screening of Andy Warhol’s ambitious and unfinished Batman Dracula. With elaborate sets and staging, intersecting storylines, and a main character who is, yes, both Batman and Dracula, this is the spooky camp classic you’ve been waiting for. siskelfilmcenter.org/andy-warhols-batman-dracula

2022 Fall Theater & Arts Preview

A fall edition

A note from the Reader’s culture editor who focuses on film, media, food, and drink on our Fall Theater & Arts Preview issue.