Chicago Cinema

Chicago’s cinema selection: two thumbs up

By Emerald Gao

Crazy for the silver screen? You’ve come to the right city. Gene Siskel made his home here, and Roger Ebert still writes weekly reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times. In a city rich with film history, incredible resources are available for both the discerning enthusiast and the casual moviegoer.

Movie theaters aren’t hard to find off campus. Loews Cineplex is a Michigan Avenue staple, and the cushy AMC River East is an easy journey away in the Loop.

However, if you’re in the mood for something a little quirkier, the city also holds theaters that specialize in independent films. The North Side’s Landmark Century Centre Cinema is the most accessible stop for indie and foreign flicks. Try the Music Box Theatre for similar fare, plus midnight showings of such classics as Die Hard and The Muppet Movie on the weekends.

In the heart of downtown Chicago is the Gene Siskel Film Center, which showcases films from different countries, eras, and themes each month, along with some special screenings. If you head north to Fullerton Avenue, you’ll hit Facets Cinematheque, which specializes in international new releases. Feature films only run for a week or less though, so it’s a good idea to visit their Web site or join their mailing list in order to stay in the know.

One of the benefits of attending college in a major metropolitan area is the number of film festivals that take place during the year. October traditionally belongs to the two-week Chicago International Film Festival (, which previews U.S. and international feature films—openers have included such films as Stranger Than Fiction—and independent gems that are harder to see. It also provides a chance to catch a glimpse of stars and directors as they take the stage to discuss their films.

The International Film Festival hardly ends before the Chicago Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (also known as Reeling) begins. This film festival is a product of Chicago Filmmakers, the largest media arts organization in Chicago, and is hailed as a landmark event for the city’s LGBTQ community. For a week in November the second-oldest gay and lesbian film festival in the world showcases the edgiest, most provocative films made with a distinctly LGBTQ perspective.

Right after U of C students awaken from their hibernation during the long winter months, the Cultural Center of Chicago unveils its International Latino Film Festival (, which runs for two weeks in April. Fans of foreign film should not miss this event, where more than 100 films from over 20 Ibero-American cultures are screened for audience members, ranging from high school Spanish classes to traveling film lovers.

These three are just the tip of the festival iceberg. Events as diverse as the Future Filmmakers Festival (a one-day festival dedicated to young aspiring filmmakers) and the International Children’s Film Festival (the largest of its kind in North America) grace each month of the calendar, so there is always a new cinematic adventure for those willing to look and eager to watch.