Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave. (Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago)

The Chicago International Film Festival is kicking off 12 days of film screenings across the city next week with a block party in Lakeview.

The 58th edition of the festival runs Oct. 12-23 in theaters across the city.

Cinema/Chicago, the festival’s presenting organization, will roll out a red carpet outside the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., for the ChiFilmFest Opening Night Block Party. It happens 5-10 p.m. Oct. 12 along Southport between Grace and Waveland avenues.

The block party will have live music, food trucks, vendor booths and screens displaying trailers for some of the festival’s films.

“This is our first block party, and it’s hopefully the first of many,” said Vivian Teng, managing director of the festival. “We really want to revolve it around cinema, Chicago and the community, so we’ll roll out the red carpet and will have all kinds of film-themed displays.”

The block party is partially funded by Special Service Area 27 as part of its Community Event & Placemaking Grant program, which offers up to $5,000 in assistance for unique events and public programs within the SSA’s boundaries.

Businesses within the block party’s footprint will put of cinema-themed decorations, roll out their own red carpets and do more to celebrate the occasion, said Alyssa Lombardo, events and marketing director for the Lakeview Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce, which is the SSA’s sole service provider.

“The ChiFilmFest Opening Night Block Party could be anywhere in Chicago, but they chose Lakeview, so that speaks volumes to our neighborhood and what we’re able to provide,” Lombardo said. “It’s an ideal location with the historic Music Box right there. This event is going to be so cool.”

‘Something For Everyone’

After “decentralizing” the festival last year by hosting screenings at various theaters, the Chicago International Film Festival is launching two new venues this year, Teng said.

Some films will now be screened at Englewood’s Hamilton Park Cultural Center, 513 W. 72nd St., and Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake St., Teng said.

Other venues include AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois St.; the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.; and the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.

“Last year we started this by branching out into other parts of the city and we had such a great reaction to it,” Teng said. “It’s about finding ways to connect with audiences and inviting them to participate in the festival.”

This year’s festival features 92 feature films and 56 shorts coming from countries around the world, including Ukraine, South Korea, Spain, Chile, India, France, Mexico and Japan.

Programmers reviewed more than 6,000 films to curate the festival, Teng said.

“There’s something for everyone,” Teng said. “We have the awards contenders and then these really amazing local gems that have been submitted.”

The festival opens 7 p.m. at the Music Box with a screening of “A Compassionate Spy,” a documentary by local filmmaker Steve James about University of Chicago graduate Theodore Hall’s involvement with the Manhattan Project and how he passed crucial military secrets to Soviet intelligence about the United States’ efforts to build nuclear weapons.

The festival’s centerpiece is Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” a sequel to “Knives Out,” which screened at a previous year’s festival, Teng said. It stars Kathryn Hahn, who will be on hand to accept a Career Achievement Award. “Glass Onion” screens 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Music Box.

The festival closes 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Music Box with a screening of “White Noise,” a “hilarious and horrifying, lyrical and absurd, ordinary and apocalyptic dramatization” by Noah Baumbach about an American family’s attempts to deal with mundane conflicts of everyday life in an uncertain world.

The festival will also have a mix of local local stories:

  • “Art and Pep,” a documentary about the couple behind Chicago’s LGBTQ bar Sidetrack, directed by Mercedes Kane.
  • “Rounding,” the latest drama and psychological thriller from Alex Thompson, director of “Saint Francis.”
  • “King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones,” a portrait of director Harriet Marin Jones’ grandfather, a gambling entrepreneur who was one of the most powerful and richest Black men in America in the ’30s and ’40s who went head-to-head with the Chicago mob.

Twenty of the festival’s films will be available for streaming in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana through the festival’s online streaming platform and apps for Roku and Apple TV. Virtual screenings are ticketed and viewable from noon Oct. 13 through 11:59 Oct. 23.

For more info, visit the Chicago Film Festival’s website at:

Black Perspectives – Sudden Waves

A suite of short films on themes of memory, grief and joy will screen at Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake St., on Thursday, 6:30 p.m. The films feature works by Julian Turner, Sharrifa Ali, Alex Mallis and Titus Khapar, Shanrica Evans, Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena Harold, and dream hampton.

Set in the early 1960s, a budding soul music label brings in a savvy group of local teenage musicians to offer feedback and inspiration to its early signees in “Big Three.”  Other shorts include: “You Go Girl,” “Shut Up and Paint,” “Amina,” “Tsutsue,” and “Freshwater.”