10th Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival Announces First Films, Returns to the Music Box

The Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) announces the first seven films selected for the 2023 Chicago Critics Film Festival. First titles include the Chicago premiere of Paul Schrader’s MASTER GARDENER and a 40th-anniversary screening of THE RIGHT STUFF on 35mm. Passes are now on sale for the event, returning May 5-11 at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre at 3733 N. Southport Ave. More information on the first selected films, plus festival passes, is available here.

With these initial selections, festival programmers present some of the most acclaimed yet-to-be-released films of the year, making Chicago a must-screen destination for films that audiences will be talking about for months to come. The early selections include the much-acclaimed BROTHER, based on the best selling novel by David Chariandy; Laura Moss’s feature directorial debut BIRTH/REBIRTH; and PASSAGES, directed by Ira Sachs and a Best Feature nominee at the Berlin International Film Festival. 

“It’s a privilege to present our curated selection of the best films of the year to Chicago audiences,” said CFCA President and Festival producer Brian Tallerico. “With our tenth festival, we look forward to welcoming film fans, special guests and more to the Music Box Theatre to celebrate the shared experience of catching a great movie on the big screen.”

First titles include the Chicago premiere of Paul Schrader’s MASTER GARDENER

The first seven films selected for the 2023 Chicago Critics Film Festival are:

  • BIRTH/REBIRTH (dir. Laura Moss) – Rose is a pathologist who prefers working with corpses over social interaction. She also has an obsession — the reanimation of the dead. Celie is a maternity nurse who has built her life around her bouncy, chatterbox 6-year-old daughter, Lila. One unfortunate day, their worlds crash into each other. The two women and young girl embark on a dark path of no return where they will be forced to confront how far they are willing to go to protect what they hold most dear.
  • BROTHER (dir. Clement Virgo) – Propelled by the pulsing beats of Toronto’s early hip hop scene, BROTHER is the story of Francis and Michael, the sons of Caribbean immigrants, maturing into young men. Exploring themes of masculinity, identity and family, a mystery unfolds during the sweltering summer of 1991 and escalating tensions set off a series of events that change the course of the brothers’ lives.
  • ERNEST & CELESTINE: A TRIP TO GIBBERITIA (dir. Julien Chheng & Jean-Christophe Roger) – Ernest and Celestine are traveling back to Ernest’s country, Gibberitia, to fix his broken violin. This exotic land is home to the best musicians on earth and music constantly fills the air with joy. However, upon arriving, our two heroes discover that all forms of music have been banned there for many years – and for them, a life without music is unthinkable. Along with their friends and a mysterious masked outlaw, Ernest and Celestine must try their best to bring music and happiness back to the land of bears.
  • MASTER GARDENER (dir. Paul Schrader) – A meticulous horticulturist is devoted to tending the grounds of a beautiful estate owned by a wealthy dowager. When he’s told to take on her troubled great-niece as an apprentice, his life is thrown into chaos and dark secrets from his past emerge.
  • PASSAGES (dir. Ira Sachs) – Set in contemporary Paris, PASSAGES charts an escalating battle of desire between three people, where want is a constant and happiness is just out of reach. Exquisitely shot and featuring honest, emotionally nuanced performances, Sachs has created a breathtakingly intimate and insightful drama exploring the complexities, contradictions, and cruelties of love and longing.
  • THE RIGHT STUFF (dir. Phllip Kaufman ) – The U.S. space program’s development from the breaking of the sound barrier to selection of the Mercury 7 astronauts, from a group of test pilots with a more seat-of-the-pants approach than the program’s more cautious engineers preferred. 40th Anniversary Screening – on 35mm
  • WAITING FOR THE LIGHT TO CHANGE (dir. Linh Tran) – Amy, having recently undergone dramatic weight loss, finds herself wrestling between loyalty to her best friend Kim and her attraction to Kim’s new boyfriend.

Click here for SCREEN’s chat with director Linh Tran and Chicago-based producer James Choi, and here is an exclusive clip of Tran accepting the Grand Jury Award at Slamdance earlier this year…

The festival’s remaining film selections, as well as screening dates/times, will be announced April 17; filmmakers and special guests scheduled to attend will also be announced in the coming weeks. The best way to ensure access to every aspect of the week-long event is to secure a festival pass, $150 (until March 24, then $200) and available online here.

Additionally, applications open today for the 2023 Emerging Critics Grant presented by the Chicago Film Critics Association and Rotten Tomatoes. The grant provides two emerging film critics in the Chicagoland area with a $2,500 cash stipend, plus editorial mentorship, festival access and more. Apply for the Emerging Critics Grant here.

The Chicago Critics Film Festival annually features a selection of acclaimed films chosen by members of the organization, a combination of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a variety of filmmakers, from established Oscar winners to talented newcomers. It is the only current example of a major film critics group that hosts its own festival.

Follow the CFCA and the festival on Twitter at @chicagocritics and @criticsff and on Facebook here.

Leave a Reply