Screens Monthly: Spooky Stories and Chicago’s Biggest Film Festival

There's something about flipping the calendar over to October that feels different from earlier months. It's as if the space between September 30 and October 1 is a mini time warp, as all the promise of summer gives way to the comforts of fall in the blink of an eye. The change also marks a shift in movie seasons, with the blockbusters of July and August are behind us and another Awards Season underway. There's no shortage of Halloween programming to check out, of course, and theaters will be packed with Oscar hopefuls, some of the best films of the year waiting for just this moment to find their audiences. And of course, October means the return of the Chicago International Film Festival, marking its 55th edition with hundreds of movies, special events and guests. Here's what we'll be seeing on the big screen this month. One Child Nation Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

October 11

Verité Documentary Conference at DePaul — Held every fall at DePaul University, this two-day conference features visiting artists, all working documentarians, and film screenings of some of the most acclaimed and accomplished documentaries of the year. On Friday, October 11, the university welcomes Nanfu Wang, the filmmaker and central subject of One Child Nation (pictured), a documentary about China's invasive and divisive population control policy. Wang will participate in a post-film conversation about her experiences (both with the policy and in filmmaking, one imagines); the event is free and open to the public, though intentionally over-booked to ensure a full house (so arrive early!). Register for free here.

October 13

Free Halloween Matinee at Logan Theatre — If your festive programming needs to be a bit more family-friendly this Halloween season, consider an afternoon at the Logan Theatre. Featuring It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Casper's Halloween Special (an animated work from 1979), the double bill is easily as enjoyable for grown-ups as it is for kids. If you can't get your fix of scary elsewhere, this animated matinee may be just the (free) ticket. More information is available here.

October 16-27

Chicago International Film Festival — Since paring back to just ten days in recent years, the city's stalwart festival hasn't lost any of its programming muster, managing to feature as many highly-anticipated titles as new discoveries during its time at Streeterville's AMC River East. Special presentations, per usual, include early screenings of many films that will be part of the upcoming Awards conversation, from Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story to Honey Boy, written by and starring Shia LaBeouf and JoJo Rabbit, a historical satire by Taika Waititi. But dig a little deeper and gems are your reward; the festival's documentary, foreign and short films always include some of the most exceptional film of the year, if you're willing to look for it. The full line-up and tickets are online here.

October 19

Chicago Home Movie Day — For a bit of a change, this free event allows you to be the filmmaker. Presented by the Chicago Film Archives and Chicago Film Society, head over to host venue Chicago History Museum with your old film (the real film, 8mm or 16mm) to have it inspected and projected by the pros. Offering tips on storage and archiving, the event—now in its ninth (!) year—is both entertaining and educational. We've all got those boxes we've been meaning to go through, figuring out a way to save those old vacation videos or wedding footage. Or perhaps you're just interested in seeing what your fellow Chicagoans have hiding int heir basements and storage units. Either way, now's your chance! More on the event is online here.

October 19

Music Box of Horrors — As spooky programming goes, the folks at Music Box Theatre have sealed the deal with their annual 24-hour fright fest, Music Box of Horrors. From noon on Saturday till noon on Sunday, the historic cinema on Southport will feature a baker's dozen of Halloween-worthy selections. Highlights this year include the timely The Man Who Laughed (on 35mm) to kick things off with a throwback; 1997's Office Killer (on 35mm) starring a dastardly Carol Kane; the second installments in two franchises: Halloween II and The Fly II (both on 35mm); and for those of us a bit less inclined toward the scary, 1992's Buffy the Vampire Slayer rounds out the day on Sunday afternoon. Pick and choose what to see, or get an event pass (just $30!) to see it all. May the fright be with you. Full schedule and tickets here.

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Lisa Trifone