CIFF Opens Tonight with BELUSHI; Illinois Doc Headlines Virtual Program

CIFF Opens Tonight with BELUSHI; Illinois Doc Headlines Virtual Program

The Chicago International Film Festival kicks off tonight, and whether you're up for heading to the drive-in or prefer to stay snuggled up at home, there are plenty of ways for you to enjoy some superb cinema. Tonight the festival opens with the World Premiere of BELUSHI, celebrating the genius and legacy of Chicago comedy icon John Belushi in the words of those who most closely knew and worked with him.

The drive-in screening starts at 6:30pm Central at the ChiTown Movies Drive-In at 2343 S. Throop St in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. The virtual World Premiere streams nationwide beginning at 7:00pm Central, will be available via virtual cinema throughout the entire Festival from October 14-25. Click here for all tickets, and here is your first look at BELUSHI:

Plus, at 9:00pm Central, CIFF is hosting a special livestream Q&A with director R.J. Cutler, John's surviving wife Judy Belushi, and Animal House producer Ivan Reitman! This Q&A will be available to ticket holders via the film's streaming portal as well open to the public on our YouTube channel. Don't miss it!

Illinois Doc Highlights Virtual Program

FINDING YINGYING won the 2020 Breakthrough Voice award at the prestigious SXSW film festival, among other honors, and headlines the virtual screening program for the Chicago International Film Festival.

Director Jiayan “Jenny” Shi saw herself in Yingying Zhang, the young woman who disappeared from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s campus in June 2017. Shi decided to pick up a camera and follow the Zhang family’s quest for truth and justice, thousands of miles away from their home in China.

The Hollywood Reporter praised the film as “a deft portrait of a family on the razor’s edge between hope and dread.” The project started as a class project while Shi was a graduate student at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. She later participated in the Diverse Voices in Docs program, organized by Kartemquin Films and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago.

“What I want viewers to take away after they watch the film is to get to know more about who Yingying was as a person and not as a victim of a heinous crime,” Shi said.

Brent E. Huffman, associate professor at Medill, joined as a producer and helped shape the project into a feature-length film. “I worked closely with Jenny for the last three years to craft the narrative so that Yingying Zhang's story could reach a global audience,” Huffman said.

Regarding the Chicago International Film Festival run, there will be a special Q&A with Huffman, Shi and the film’s cinematographer at 9 p.m. Central this Friday, October 16. FINDING YINGYING will be available to stream anywhere in the U.S. October 14-25; click here to purchase your virtual ticket for this film.

The 56th Annual Chicago International Film Festival runs October 14-25, click here for full festival program and tickets.