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IFA Chicago Announces McKenzie Chinn as Recipient of ‘Breakthrough Voice Award’ at Inaugural Fundraiser

(Last Updated On: November 25, 2022)

IFA Chicago’s “Breakthrough Voice Award” is an honor given to an individual whose work has already received professional acclaim and demonstrates an exceptional level of creative quality and storytelling integrity, competitive within the national film landscape. The inaugural recipient of this honor will be acclaimed filmmaker and actor McKenzie Chinn. The Independent Film Alliance of Chicago (IFA), a nonprofit dedicated to providing the community and resources needed to build a diverse and sustainable industry of independent content creators, announces that it will present this award to Chinn at its inaugural fundraiser gala, Magic Hour on Thursday, December 1st, and will also honor Cinespace visionary Alex Pissios.

“McKenzie Chinn is a rising multi-hyphenate talent who embodies the kind of authentic and original filmmaking that the IFA seeks to champion,” said Jonah Zeiger, head of the IFA Chicago Creative Cabinet and Assistant Director of EPICS, Northwestern University. “In the industry, Chinn is known as a generous collaborator who fosters an environment of respect on her projects. It is in this spirit that we are especially thrilled to honor her with the Breakthrough Voice Award,” Zeiger added.

The Rise of McKenzie Chinn

McKenzie Chinn is a writer, actor, poet, and filmmaker. Her impressive projects have established her as a talent to watch in the industry.  As a filmmaker, she is developing her own voice, one that is breaking through to tell stories drawn from her own experiences and imagination, incorporating Black female perspectives in the context of a contemporary multicultural Chicago.  Her film projects have been recognized by the LA Film Festival and Bentonville Film Festival (“Olympia”) and supported by Sundance and Chicago International’s CIX Lab (“A Real One”). 

Enjoy a glance at McKenzie’s acclaimed performance in the trailer for Olympiaand click here to check out the full Chicago-made feature.

In addition to Olympia, McKenzie’s on-camera credits include guest star roles on the FOX series The Big Leap, ABC’s forthcoming Will Trent, CBS’s The Red Line, and others. Onstage she has worked with Steppenwolf and Goodman Theatres, The Second City, Woolly Mammoth, and others.

“At a time when our stories are among the most powerful tools we have toward shaping our individual and collective future, I’m thrilled and honored to be recognized through this award for my efforts in this challenging and transformative field,” said McKenzie Chinn. “Buoyed by an incredible community of fellow artists and collaborators, my path in film is one that I have discovered and continue to forge by trusting that if I put one foot in front of the other, the road will appear. I’m deeply appreciative of IFA, the Chicago film community, and my collaborators near and far for their guidance and support along that road thus far, for trusting and diving into the deep end with me. I continue to be driven by the idea that when we as storytellers move with vision and truth, we have the power to transform people. And when we transform people, we transform the world. My heart is on fire for what lies ahead.”

Cinespace Visionary Alex Pissios Will Also Be Honored at the Gala

In addition to the “Breakthrough Voice Award” being presented at Magic Hour, IFA Chicago will bestow its first “Visionary Leadership Award” and “Hometown Hero Award” to former Cinespace Film Studios CEO Alex Pissios. The event will celebrate Chicago’s independent filmmakers and invigorate support for its rapidly growing community on Thursday, December 1st, at Wildman Boiler & Tank Co. More than 300 film professionals and industry enthusiasts are expected to attend the event. In addition to an impressive silent auction, beats by The DJ Firm, event design by Fierce Productions, and food by Cocina Fusion.

Magic Hour will be hosted at Wildman Boiler & Tank Co. at 3022 W Carroll Avenue in Chicago. Cocktails begin at 6 PM with VIP tickets available for $150 per person, general admission is $100. All proceeds will support the mission of IFA Chicago.

Click here for more information on sponsorships or tickets for the Magic Hour gala.

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