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9th Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival Announces First Seven Films

Last updated: March 16, 2022

The Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), the Chicago-area print, online and broadcast critics group that celebrates the art of film and film criticism, announces today the first seven films selected for the 2022 Chicago Critics Film Festival. First titles include highly anticipated films like the Chicago premiere of Cooper Raiff’s CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH (pictured below), starring Raiff and Dakota Johnson. Passes are now on sale for the event, returning this year to a full week of screenings (May 13-19) at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre (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 FIRE, the latest collaboration between filmmaker Claire Denis and Juliette Binoche (High Life; Let the Sunshine In); CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH, written and directed by Cooper Raiff and winner of the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival; and BENEDICTION, from acclaimed writer/director Terence Davies (A Quiet Passion; The Deep Blue Sea).

The first seven films selected for the 2022 Chicago Critics Film Festival are:

BENEDICTION (dir. Terence Davies) — Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Terence Davies, the biopic explores the turbulent life of WWI poet Siegfried Sassoon (Jack Lowden).

CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH (dir. Cooper Raiff) — Recent college graduate Andrew, stuck back at home with his family and working as a party-starter for bar and bat mitzvahs, strikes up a unique friendship with a young mom and her teenage daughter.

Here is a Variety chat with director and cast of CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH…

EMILY THE CRIMINAL (dir. John Patton Ford) — Down on her luck and saddled with debt, Emily (Aubrey Plaza) gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, ultimately leading to deadly consequences.

FIRE (dir. Claire Denis) — Juliette Binoche is Sara, a woman whose life spirals out of control when she becomes involved in a passionate love triangle.

Here is your first look at FIRE…

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON (dir. Dean Fleischer-Camp) — Marcel, a one-inch-tall shell, lives a miniature life with his grandma Connie and their pet lint, Alan. When the trio goes viral, they get millions of fans and new hope for finding their long-lost family, in this big-hearted big-screen adventure.

SPEAK NO EVIL (dir. Christian Tafdrup) — When a Danish family visits a Dutch family they met on holiday, what was supposed to be an idyllic weekend slowly unravels as the Danes try to stay polite in the face of eccentric… or is it sinister?… behavior.

WATCHER (dir. Chloe Okuno) — As a serial killer stalks the city, Julia – a young actress who just moved to town with her boyfriend – notices a mysterious stranger watching her from across the street in this terrifying thriller.

The festival’s remaining film selections, as well as screening dates/times, will be announced April 25; 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 and available online 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. The Chicago Critics Film Festival and the CFCA also gratefully acknowledge the support of festival sponsors.

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