The Chicago International Film Festival is managed and produced by Cinema/Chicago, a non-profit cultural and educational organization. It is dedicated to fostering better communication between people of diverse cultures through the art of film and the moving image. Along with the festival, Cinema/Chicago runs a year-round programming and membership program.
One of the main aims of Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival is to introduce Chicago residents to world-class cinema and to enrich the city's cultural environment by presenting film in contexts that encourage discussion and debate. Chicago is a multicultural city that thrives on cultural diversity, that's why the festival aims to enhance the city's cultural assets.
The program of the festival is becoming increasingly richer and more diverse. For example, the program of the 2010 festival featured 150 films from over 50 countries. The films are divided into many different sections such as the International Competition, New Directors Competition, Black Perspectives, Docufest, Reel Women, Cinema of the Americas, etc. Michael Kutza has always been an outspoken proponent of films in foreign languages, and this is clearly reflected in the festival's program.
As we've already mentioned above, the Chicago International Film Festival is a competitive one. Its highest award is called Gold Hugo. The Gold Hugo prize is awarded to the best film of the festival. Over the years, the prize has been awarded to filmmakers from the United States, Japan, Sweden, Peru, Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Iran, Finland, and other countries from different parts of the world.
Besides, there is the Silver Hugo Award bestowed to the best actor and best actress, the Lifetime Achievement Awards and the Career Achievement Awards. Among the winners of the festival's Lifetime/Career Achievement Awards there are Helen Hunt, Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman, Shirley MacLaine, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Robert Zemeckis, Jodie Foster, Sigourney Weaver, Annette Bening, Nicholas Cage, and others. The festival's Silver Hugo Award was among the last awards won by Anton Yelchin before his untimely death at age 27.
Photo by Timothy M. Schmidt