On the last Friday of the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival, programmers, juries and filmmakers gathered in a theater at AMC River East for the annual Awards Ceremony, where top honors were bestowed on films in several categories. Like the Palme d’Or in Cannes or the Golden Lion of Venice, Chicago has named its awards, here known as the Gold Hugo (though what that stands for, exactly, is unclear). Unlike those prestige festivals, unfortunately, winning a Hugo in Chicago won’t catapult you or your film to international acclaim.
Still, it’s always nice to be recognized, and this year the juries at the festival honored a crop of interesting, international films that will screen again during the Best of the Fest on Wednesday, October 25, and Thursday, October 26.
The festival’s top prize in the International Feature Competition, the Gold Hugo, was presented to A Sort of Family, a narrative from Argentina by Diego Lerman about a successful doctor who makes her way to the provinces to illegally adopt a baby, getting mired in the financial and emotional demands of the community she finds herself in. The film premiered at Toronto International Film Festival, and it won Best Screenplay at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
From there, Silver Hugos (Hugoes?) were awarded to a number of films in the International Feature Competition for the likes of Best Director (shared by Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze for Birds are Singing in Kigali), Best Actor (Aleksandr Yatsenko in Arrhythmia), Best Actress (shared by Jowita Budnik and Eliane Umuhire in Birds are Singing in Kigali), and a Jury Prize to Félicité, directed by Alain Gomis (which is apparently different from the top prize…somehow). Our reviewer Andrew Xu enjoyed Birds are Singing in Kigali quite a bit; you can read his review in our coverage here.
In documentaries, The Other Side of the Wall by director Pau Ortiz was named the Gold Hugo winner, adding to its previous wins at both Hot Docs and the Zurich Film Festival. The film follows two young Honduran siblings trying to keep their family afloat in Mexico after their mother is sent to jail. Mr. Gay Syria, the story of a refugee’s journey to an international gay pageant, took the Silver Hugo for documentaries.
Closer to home, Chaz Ebert was on hand at the Awards Ceremony to present the annual Ebert Award, a recognition of “a fresh and uncompromising vision” by an emerging filmmaker, to Laura Mora, director of Killing Jesús. The Gold Hugo winner in the New Directors section was presented to No Date, No Signature director Vahid Jalilvand for, one presumes, similar vision and promise on display in this sophomore feature. Princess Cyd by Stephen Cone was honored with the Chicago Award.
A full list of award recipients is below; visit ChicagoFilmFestival.com to see the updated list of Best of Fest screenings for one more shot to see all the winners.
Roger Ebert Award