The Chicago International Film Festival celebrates the best that cinema has to offer. Showcasing films from established masters and emerging storytellers, the Festival welcomes films from around the world. Offering an impressive selection of competitive and non-competitive programming, the Chicago International Film Festival brings films both domestic and international to silver screens in Chicago.
As one of the main cultural importers of world cinema to the Midwest, the Chicago International Film Festival is a place for audiences and filmmakers to engage with one another. The Festival features a host of screenings, panels, educational events, and Q&A’s that foster cultural understanding and artistic engagement.
In 2016, the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival presented over 140 feature films including 30 feature-length documentaries and 47 short subject films from over 56 countries. The Festival welcomed films from over 30 new directors to Chicago this year, exemplifying the spirit of discovery that has long been its calling card.
Awards & Prizes
COMPETITIONS AND PROGRAM SECTIONS
Films are programmed for public screening in a diverse selection of competitive and non-competitive categories. Each film is presented in one or more of the following sections and is placed at the discretion of the Programming Committee.
International Feature Film Competition
Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these works compete for the top honor, the Gold Hugo - as well as awards for best actor, actress, director, writer, and more - in North America's longest-running competitive film festival.
New Directors Competition
This selection of first and second feature films, receiving their U.S. premiere in Chicago, celebrates the spirit of discovery and innovation upon which the Festival was founded. To be eligible for the competition, films may not have U.S. distribution and must be at least a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.
Global in scope and representing a wide range of approaches to documentary form, this program offers a diverse cross-section of contemporary non-fiction filmmaking in both competitive and non-competitive sections. To be eligible for the International Documentary Competition, films must be at least a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.
Short Film Competition
Annually showcasing the best short films from around the globe, this competition highlights the work of both upcoming artists and masters of the short subject form. Programmed films are eligible for awards in the following categories: Animation, Documentary, and Live Action. The winners of the Best Live Action and Best Documentary Short awards are eligible to be considered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Academy Awards®.
From the edgy to the tender, these bold LGBTQ-themed films exhibit new artistic perspectives on sexuality and identity, and compete for the Q Hugo Award.
City & State
This program celebrates Illinois’ rich filmmaking tradition, showcasing the best features, documentaries, and short films with their roots right here in Illinois. Films in this section compete for the Chicago Award, given to the year’s best Illinois film.
Gathering genre films from horror and thrillers to edgy animation and dark comedies, this showcase of future cult classics and midnight favorites offers an exciting mix of late-night fare.
Now in its 21st year, this program showcases films that celebrate the richness of African American filmmaking and the diversity of black cultures around the world and the filmmakers behind them.
Cinema of the Americas
With films from Cuba and Colombia to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina, this program spotlights the fresh and vibrant work of emerging and veteran filmmakers from South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
A mix of classic narratives and cutting edge forms, this program offers a snapshot of the contemporary cinematic landscape. Serving up the sights, sounds and stories from cultures around the globe, this section presents the latest from established masters, festival award winners, box-office hits, and hidden gems.
Rules & Terms
A) Eligibility Requirements
1. Films completed on or after September 1, 2016 are eligible.
2. Films previously submitted to the Chicago International Film Festival are NOT eligible.
3. US premieres are given priority, but films must be at least a Chicago premiere. Films that (a) have screened publicly in the Chicago area, (b) have had a theatrical run in the US prior to the Festival dates, (c) have aired on US television prior to the Festival dates, or (d) are available for purchase in North America are NOT eligible.
4. Feature-length films (narrative or documentary) that are available for public online viewing in their entirety are NOT eligible. Short films (under 40 min) may be available online.
5. Films shown at private screenings not open to the public (for crew, investors, etc.) are eligible.
6. All entries must be either in English or subtitled in English. Dialogue lists are not accepted.
7. Entrant confirms and warrants required legal authority to submit the entry into the Festival and to use all music, images, and content in the entry.
B) Submission Guidelines
1. Feature-length films must be submitted via online screener hosted by Vimeo, on DVD or on Blu-ray disc.
2. Only complete entries (including fee payment and screener) will be considered.
3. Entrants are permitted to submit works-in-progress (i.e., without final color correction or sound mixing), but please note that the programming committee will only consider the version submitted. Subsequent cuts or replacement copies will only be accepted at the request of the programming committee.
4. To qualify for student entry fee rates, entrant must include proof of student status at the time of production (e.g., copy of student ID, transcript, etc.)
5. The following exhibition formats are eligible for Festival screening: 35mm, DCP, and HDCAM.
Early deadline entries must be postmarked by April 7, 2017.
Regular deadline entries must be postmarked by June 16, 2017.
Late deadline entries must be postmarked by July 7, 2017.
The cost of shipping an entry to the Festival must be paid by the entrant. Collect or COD shipments will not be accepted. All international entries must be sent “free domicile” to the Festival office with all transportation charges, duties, and taxes prepaid by the shipper. For films selected to screen at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival, the Festival will only cover one-way shipping costs for the public screening hard drive or DCP.
E) Judging & Selection
Films are selected for Festival presentation by the Chicago International Film Festival programming committee. If a film is selected, the Festival office will contact the entrant by phone or email.
All entrants will be notified on or before September 9, 2017.
Films selected for the International Feature, Documentary, New Directors, and Out-Look Competitions are judged during the Festival. All other competitive film categories, including the Chicago Award and Short Film Competition, are judged before the Festival.
F) Entry Fees
Each entry must be accompanied by the appropriate entry fee. Entry fees are not refundable. Fees cover registration, notification, full consideration by the programming department, and notification of the results. These fees may be paid by check or money order, made payable to Cinema/Chicago, or by credit card (VISA, MasterCard, or American Express).
Postmark deadline: April 7 June 16 July 7
Feature-length narrative $90.00 $100.00 $200.00
Feature-length documentary $70.00 $80.00 $150.00
Short film (under 40 min) $40.00 $50.00 $70.00
Student film: feature (over 40 min) $40.00 $50.00 $80.00
Student film: short (under 40 min) $20.00 $30.00 $50.00