City cinema

The silver screen is on display in the second city

By Emerald Gao

Cineastes and film buffs, you’ve come to the right place. Gene Siskel loved this city and made his home here, and Roger Ebert—despite recent health complications—still writes weekly reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times. In a city rich with film history, there are many superb resources 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 (600 North Michigan Avenue, (312) 255-9340), and the cushy AMC River East (322 East Illinois Street, (847) 765-7262) is always an easy journey. However, if you’re in the mood for something a little off the beaten path, the city also has theaters that specialize in independent film. The North Side’s Landmark Century Centre Cinema (2828 North Clark Street, (773) 509-4949) is the most accessible stop for indie/foreign flicks, and if you have a few extra hours to kill, consider taking the Purple Line up to the Davis stop and catching a movie at Cinearts (1715 Maple Ave, (847) 492-0123) in Evanston.

In the heart of downtown Chicago is the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 North State Street, (312) 846-2600,, which showcases films from different countries, eras, and themes each month, along with some special screenings that should not be missed. If you head north to Fullerton Avenue, you’ll hit Facets Cinematheque (1517 West Fullerton Avenue, (773) 281-9075,, which specializes in new releases from around the world. Feature films only run for a week or less, though, so it’s a good idea to visit the website or join their mailing list in order to stay in the know.

One of the great joys of attending college in a metropolitan area is the abundance of film festivals that take place throughout 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 to which you would not otherwise be exposed. It also provides a chance to sneak a glimpse of stars and directors as they take the stage to discuss their films.

Hardly has the International Film Festival ended when 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 generally 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 from gay and lesbian perspectives.

After a long winter, the Latino Cultural Center of Chicago unveils its International Latino Film Festival (, which runs for about two weeks in April. Fans of foreign film should not miss this event, at which more than 100 films from over 20 Ibero-American cultures are screened for its diverse audience members, who range from high school Spanish classes to film lovers who have traveled to Chicago specifically for the festival.

These three are just the tip of the iceberg. Festivals 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 who are willing to look and eager to watch.