Your First Look at Five New Chicago Features In Development for 2023

As we look ahead to 2023, there are five Illinois features in the works that deserve a spot on your radar. Let’s take a look…

The 58th Chicago International Film Festival has announced a slate of five narrative feature film projects in active development that have been selected for CIX: Lab, a year-long creative development program under the Festival’s Chicago Industry Exchange banner.

After receiving close advising and preparation throughout the year, the projects will be unveiled publicly at The Pitch at Industry Days at the 2023 Chicago International Film Festival. There, filmmakers will pitch their projects in front of a live audience and a panel of industry judges as well as have private meetings with producers, financiers, and distributors.

Past projects from The Pitch at Industry Days have gone on to completion, including Jennifer Reeder’s films SIGNATURE MOVE and KNIVES AND SKINHaroula Rose’s ONCE UPON A RIVER, and Alex Heller’s THE YEAR BETWEEN.

This year’s CIX: Lab filmmakers represent a diversity of voices and styles that continue to reinforce the breadth and vitality of Chicago-area filmmakers and projects: from a Singaporean spiritual lesbian romance to a road-trip comedy about a Chicana punk rocker to a dramatic thriller about a cursed mother-to-be to coming-of-age stories about a Black teenager wrestling with his masculinity and an 80-year-old woman who fights to maintain her autonomy.

“We’re very excited to launch the second year of the CIX: Lab, providing substantive support and mentorship to local filmmakers,” said Chicago International Film Festival Senior Programmer Anthony Kaufman. “We look forward to helping make their feature films a reality.”

For its second year, CIX: Lab has assembled an impressive group of local creative advisors, who will help shepherd the projects through the program. 

This year’s advisors are all veteran Chicago International Film Festival filmmakers: Malik Bader (CASH ONLY), Melika Bass (CREATURE COMPANION), Kyle Henry (ROGERS PARK), Jennifer Reeder (KNIVES AND SKIN), and Erica Weiss (THE VIEW FROM TALL).

To register for Industry Days, click right here. 

The selected projects for 2022 – 2023 CIX: Lab are:

Filmmakers include Beah Travis, Donald Conley, Missy Hernandez, Charlotte Hong Bee Her, and EP Christina Shaver.


An 80-year-old midwestern woman fights to maintain her autonomy while acting as the sole caretaker for her dying husband.

Writer/Director/Producer: Beah Travis

Producer: Jackie Filer

I Don’t Dream In Spanish Anymore

Haunted by visions, a mother-to-be must discover the key to breaking an inherited curse before it kills her. A dark fairytale set in modern-day Chicago.  

Writer/Director: Missy Hernandez

Executive Producer: Miguel Silveira


June, a temperamental teen, is forced to leave his home after being targeted for a retaliatory act, and struggles to make peace with his mother’s attempts to save his life.

Writer/Director: Donald Conley

Producers: Kendrea Chanae Chapman, Laron Davis

The Punk Show in Chicago

The Punk Show in Chicago is a feature length comedy about a brash Chicana teen who lures her straight-laced best friend into a blundering road trip to an epic punk show and a secret pit stop for an abortion.

Writer/Director: Erika Valenciana

Producer: Anuradha Rana

Executive Producer: Christina Shaver

Tropical Rain, Death-Scented Kiss 素馨花

In an apocalyptic vision of Singapore falling into a wilderness populated by spirits, dime store romance blossoms as an alienated lesbian teenager struggles to confess her feelings for her mysteriously resurrected best friend.

Writer/Director: Charlotte Hong Bee Her

Producers: Giuliana Foulkes, Tan Si En

To register for Industry Days, click right here.

Be sure to check back here at SCREEN Magazine for the latest in Chicago and Illinois independent film production. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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