two people call for help next to a bleeding body in the snow
Anatomie d’une Chute (Anatomy of a Fall) Credit: Courtesy Morgan Harris

From locally produced independent movies to international gems and high-profile festival-season darlings, the Chicago International Film Festival has spent the past 59 years bringing the world’s most exciting titles to the Windy City. Starting October 11, CIFF will once again grace the halls of the Music Box Theatre (and a number of other local venues), delivering 150 films from more than a dozen countries to movie lovers across Chicago. 

It would be nearly impossible to highlight all of the incredible films that were selected, but here are a few of the exciting titles moviegoers can expect at this year’s fest. 

Following a block party outside the Music Box, CIFF will kick things off with the opening night feature: Minhal Baig’s We Grown Now, which will have its U.S. premiere on October 11 at 7 PM. Starring Blake Cameron James and Gian Knight Ramirez, the film tells the heartfelt story of a pair of ten-year-old boys exploring their neighborhood and savoring the joys of youth and boyhood. When their idyllic upbringing in Chicago is fractured by violence close to home, one of the boys’ mothers (Jurnee Smollett) struggles with whether to stay or move away.

Rooted in and based on the real-life experiences of Chicago’s Black community, We Grown Now promises to be a captivating chronicle of friendship and coming-of-age, anchored by a slew of powerful performances from both newcomers and familiar faces. The film will also serve as the second CIFF entry for writer-director Baig, a Chicago native, following 2019’s Hala

One of the most celebrated and prolific filmmakers of the 21st century, David Fincher will bring his severe stylistic sensibilities to Chicago with The Killer. Starring Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton, the film follows an assassin (Fassbender) who clashes with his employers after a near miss on the job. Partially shot in Chicago and featuring an offbeat sense of humor alongside Fincher’s signature eye for detail and taste for high-stakes thrillers, The Killer is already one of 2023’s buzziest titles. 

Though it’s already made its worldwide premiere at a number of other festivals, its turn at CIFF will give Chicagoans a chance to catch The Killer on the big screen well before it’s set to drop on Netflix in November. 

Chicago International Film Festival
Wed 10/11–Sun 10/22, locations vary
Festival passes $165–$300 for members, $205–$380 for nonmembers
Single tickets $15–$35 for members, $15–$40 for nonmembers

Continuing the trend of filmmakers who’ve already picked up plenty of buzz at previous festivals is Saltburn, Emerald Fennell’s sophomore feature film and the hotly anticipated follow-up to her 2020 breakout hit, Promising Young Woman. Starring Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi and Banshees of Inisherin scene-stealer Barry Keoghan, Saltburn follows Oliver (Keoghan), a misfit struggling to fit in at Oxford who finds himself suddenly infatuated with his charming, handsome, uber-rich classmate Felix (Elordi). 

When he scores an invite to Felix’s eccentric, historic family estate for the summer, Oliver is plunged into a strange, psychosexual world of wealth and deception—and the result is a viewing experience that critics have likened to doing “a line of coke off a copy of Brideshead Revisited.” With an ensemble cast filled out by the likes of Carey Mulligan, Richard E. Grant, and Rosamund Pike, Saltburn is sure to be a festival highlight—and CIFF attendees will be able to catch it months before its wide release in December.

Among this year’s “special presentations” is another high-profile film with a Chicago connection: Eric LaRue, the first-time feature from Academy Award-nominated and Chicago-raised actor Michael Shannon. Based on screenwriter Brett Neveu’s stage play of the same name, Eric LaRue follows Janice (Judy Greer), a shell-shocked mother who struggles to navigate her life in the wake of a school shooting carried out by her son. 

Greer has built a thriving career playing luminous supporting roles, but Eric LaRue promises to give the fan-favorite actress the meaty, emotional leading turn a performer of her talent has always deserved. Though Shannon may be best known to moviegoers for his expansive and varied filmography as an actor, Eric LaRue will give audiences an insight into his sensibilities and perspective as a filmmaker. 

As strong as American films are, though, it wouldn’t be CIFF without a robust lineup of international features—last year’s crop of 94 features and 56 shorts included entries from 53 countries, and the 2023 crop is sure to be just as expansive. Among the many eye-catching international features is Anatomie d’une Chute or Anatomy of a Fall, the Cannes Palme d’Or-winning entry from French filmmaker Justine Triet.

The film follows German writer Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) who’s arrested following the mysterious death of her husband (Swann Arlaud) in France. With their son (who’s blind) as the only witness to her husband’s death, a tense courtroom drama ensues as Sandra strives to prove her innocence. Serving as both an international entry and a part of the “Women in Cinema” program, Anatomie d’une Chute’s time at CIFF will be one of the few chances American audiences have to catch Triet’s “tension-filled opus” at all, let alone in a theater.

In addition to screenings at venues throughout the city (including AMC Newcity 14, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Chicago History Museum, and several Chicago Park District locations), CIFF will also continue to offer select virtual screenings that attendees can access via a dedicated festival streaming platform. The full festival lineup is now available via the CIFF website, and general public pass redemption and tickets will be on sale September 21 and 22, respectively.