The Chicago International Film Festival wrapped up its 48th showing this year, after a two week run from October 11th to the 25th. As always, the organization announced its Audience Choice awards; this year with two narrative features tying for the title.
Any Day Now, directed by Travis Fine and Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman, are the dual winners. Judged by ballot ratings, each film at the festival is rated by audiences over the two week run on a five point scale. Every film entered is given equal consideration, and at the end of the festival, ballots are tallied and averaged. Results from the public screenings were largely positive overall (an average of 4.1 for all films screened), but these two took the cake.
Director Fine’s film, Any Day Now, stars Alan Cumming (Spy Kids) and Garret Dillahunt (Looper) as a gay couple trying to adopt the abandoned teenager they’ve taken in. One a drag performer, the other a closeted lawyer, their fight to make the mentally handicapped teen a legal part of their family takes center stage in this social issue drama.
Quartet, the directorial debut from acclaimed actor Dustin Hoffman, is perhaps a bit lighter, but no less excellent fare. Starring Tom Courtenay (Dr. Zhivago), Billy Connelly (Brave) and Pauline Collins (Albert Nobbs) as aging retirees at the Beecham House for retired musicians, Quartet is the story of a trio that is reacquainted with its former fourth member: a singer played by the Dame Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey). Can the quartet “get it together” in time for the Beecham Gala concert? Audiences clearly enjoyed the result.
Seemingly very different films sharing the award this year – yet both share their country of origin in common. The USA is home to both directors. Not to mention the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the festival, which also went to a US production: the critically heralded and much buzzed about The Central Park Five. That film, directed by Ken Burns , Sarah Burns and David McMahon documents the true story of the 1989 conviction, and later exoneration, of five Black and Latino teenagers, wrongfully accused of raping a woman in New York’s Central Park.
Missed the festival? Keep an eye out for all three films in a theater near you. Interested in CIFF? Check out exactly what played at the 48th Annual Festival, and see how you can get involved in the 49th.