53rd Chicago International Film Festival

  • Film
  • Chicago
  • Thu, October 12 —
    Thu, October 26, 2017
53rd Chicago International Film Festival

In addition to a variety of films from Spain, the 53rd edition of the Chicago International Film Festival includes Spanish actress and filmmaker Leticia Dolera in the jury for its International Feature Film Competition.

The Chicago International Film Festival was started in 1964 by filmmaker and graphic artist Michael Kutza to provide an alternative to the commercial Hollywood movies that dominated the city’s theaters. Seeking out the best in international cinema, the Festival has opened windows to a world of film previously or otherwise unavailable in Chicago. In addition, at more than half of the screenings each year, filmgoers have the rare and exciting chance to meet directors, producers, writers and cast members who introduce their films and hold discussion sessions after the screenings.

Spanish films at Chicago International Film Festival


  • On Saturday, October 14, at 10:15 pm. Buy tickets.
  • On Sunday, October 15, at 3:00 pm. Buy tickets.
  • Directed by Yayo Herrero, Spain, 2017, 90 minutes. In Bosnian, English, Serbian with English subtitles.

In his electrifying debut, first-time director Herrero revisits the trauma of a crippling war through a genre lens. Lost in a Bosnian forest littered with old land mines, young couple Alec and Sasa find themselves trapped in a waking nightmare, tortured and victimized by two sadistic Serbian hunters. Desperate, Sasa summons a protective spirit, unleashing a long dormant force that violently lashes out, leaving carnage in its wake.

The Other Side of the Wall (Al otro lado del muro)

  • On Monday, October 16, at 6:15 pm. With director Pau Ortiz in attendance. Buy tickets.
  • On Tuesday, October 17, 2017 3:30 pm. With director Pau Ortiz in attendance. Buy tickets.
  • Directed by Pau Ortiz, Spain, Mexico, 2017, 68 minutes. In Spanish English with subtitles.

Rocío and her big brother Alejandro came to Mexico from Honduras with their mom and younger siblings looking for a better life. When their mother ends up in prison, tensions between the two older children bubble to the surface as they struggle to keep their family afloat. As Rocio touchingly confesses, “I love my brother will all of my heart, but I hate him, too.” This top documentary prize-winner roots its timely story about dislocation and migration in a deeply intimate and emotional domestic drama.

Summer 1993 (Estiu 1993)

  • On Friday, October 20, at 8 pm. Buy tickets.
  • On Saturday, October 21, at 12:15 pm. Buy tickets.
  • Directed by Carla Simón, Spain, 2017, 96 minutes. In Catalan with English subtitles.

When Frida’s mother passes away, the inquisitive six-year-old is sent from Barcelona to live at her uncle’s home in the Catalan countryside. While her new family welcomes her with open arms, Frida’s emotions ebb and flow between enchantment with her new bucolic surroundings and an overwhelming grief her young mind cannot fully grasp. Based on the director’s own experiences, this arresting feature debut is a stirring evocation of a childhood in flux.

Plus Ultra

Spanish navigators were encouraged to forget mythological warnings as they attempted to conquer new territories. Set in the canary islands, Plus Ultra is an ephemeral look at the secret histories and dangers of colonialism.

The Painted Calf

Biblical imagery is found around every corner in a small town in the Canary Islands. The Painted Calf explores the town’s mythic oral traditions as it weaves its fable of spirituality and materialism.

Life and Nothing More

  • On Saturday, October 21, at 7:30 pm. With director Antonio Méndez Esparza in attendance. Buy tickets.
  • On Monday, October 23, at 12:30 pm. With director Antonio Méndez Esparza in attendance. Buy tickets.
  • Directed by Antonio Méndez Esparza, United States, Spain, 2017, 113 minutes. In English.

A stunning fusion of drama and real-life, Florida-based director Esparza’s remarkable second feature follows Regina, a single-mother, and her teenage son Andrew. As Regina brings another man into their lives, Andrew wrestles with young adulthood, first love, and his feelings about his absent father. With powerful performances by nonprofessional actors and superb cinematography by Barbu Balasoiu (Sieranevada), Life and Nothing More is a moving and expertly crafted portrait of African-American life.

Harpoon (Arpón)

  • On Monday, October 23, at 6:15 pm. With director Tom Espinoza in attendance. Buy tickets.
  • On Tuesday, October 24, at 8:30 pm. With director Tom Espinoza in attendance. Buy tickets.
  • Directed by Tom Espinoza, Argentina, Venezuela, Spain, 2017, 82 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles.

The principal at a local high school, Germán has developed a reputation among the students and teachers for his unorthodox methods. When he comes down hard on the rebellious Cata for suspected drug use, he discovers there is more to her story. He sets out to help her, a decision with precipitous consequences. This psychological thriller set in small-town Argentina raises far-reaching questions about the role of educators in the lives of their students.

Spanish actress and filmmaker Leticia Dolera, nominated for Best New Director at the 2015 Goya Awards, will be part of the International Competition Jury.


Venue map

AMC River East 21, 322 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611


More information

53rd Chicago International Film Festival


Organized by Cinema/Chicago. SPAIN arts & culture supports the presence of Leticia Dolera in the International Competition Jury. Image: Maus



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