my chicago film festival experience

This past week I went to Chicago International Film Festival to see a double feature of Wanuri Kahiu’s film Rafiki and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite. Chicago International Film Festival is North America’s oldest competitive film festival and has been bringing Chicago international cinema since 1965. Some of the celebrity guests this year include Director Steve McQueen, Actress Viola Davis, Actress Carey Mulligan, and Screenwriter Gillian Flynn.

Photo courtesy of IMDb

Rafiki is set in present-day Kenya and tells the story of two girls who form a friendship that eventually blossoms into something more. Homosexuality is against the law in Kenya, so this film was actually banned from release there. The ban was recently lifted for one week only so that it could be eligible for the Oscars. I personally thought the film was very sweet and it reminded me a lot of the Chicago made film, Princess Cyd. The way that the movie used music should also be noted because it was weaved throughout in a thoughtful way. The cast and crew are brave for telling such an important story and fighting against their government, looking forward to the Academy Awards because I’m hoping to see Rafiki in the nominations for Best International Film.

Photo courtesy of IMDb

That same day I saw Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film, The Favourite, which stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz. It was a longer film (2 hours, which is long for my attention span) but the pacing was excellent. The script was engaging and funny with a lot of wit and great line delivery from the actresses. I’m looking forward to seeing it again when it gets a wide release. We’ll be seeing a lot more of this film this coming awards season when it comes to Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

One thing that I appreciated about both Rafiki and The Favourite was that they were both original. In a time where the majority of new releases are adaptations or revivals of past franchises, it was refreshing to see two original stories that worked well.

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