By Ray Pride


APRIL 12-14, 2013

William Friedkin, Sarah Polley, James Ponsoldt, William Katt and Ashley Bell among those scheduled to attend the inaugural festival.


The Chicago Film Critics Association announces its first annual Chicago Critics Film Festival, a three-day event offering more than 20 features and short films. This marks the first festival to be launched by a major U.S. film critics organization. The event, at the Muvico Rosemont 18 Theaters, will run April 12-14 and feature local premieres of as-yet-undistributed works from filmmakers ranging from Oscar winners to talented newcomers. William Friedkin, Sarah Polley, James Ponsoldt, William Katt and Ashley Bell among guest filmmakers scheduled to attend the inaugural festival.

Oscar-nominated actress/filmmaker Sarah Polley (“Away From Her,” “Take This Waltz”) will introduce the festival on opening night with her powerful and deeply personal documentary “Stories We Tell.” Twenty-year-old wunderkind filmmaker Emily Hagins will follow by introducing her fourth directorial effort, the coming-of-age comedy “Grow Up, Tony Phillips.” On closing night, the Sundance Film Festival hit “The Spectacular Now,” a comedy-drama starring Golden Globe nominee Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Smashed”), Kyle Chandler (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Miles Teller (“21 & Over”) will be presented with director James Ponsoldt scheduled to attend.

Afterward, Oscar-winning filmmaker William Friedkin (“The French Connection,” “The Exorcist,” “Sorcerer”) will sign copies of his new autobiography “The Friedkin Connection” and participate in a Q&A following a screening of one of his classic films.

Other scheduled films:

* “The Kings of Summer,” a youth-oriented comedy in the spirit of “Napoleon Dynamite” featuring performances from Chicago native Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”) and Alison Brie (“Community,” “Mad Men”)
* The off-beat superhero tale “Sparks” with scheduled appearances by director Chris Folino and co-stars William Katt (“Carrie,” “The Greatest American Hero”) and Ashley Bell (“The Last Exorcism”)
* The buzzed-about horror film “Black Rock”  with Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell and Kate Aselton
* “The Artist and the Model,” the latest film from Oscar-winning filmmaker Fernando Treuba (“Belle Epoque,” “Chico & Rita”) featuring performances from international screen icons Jean Rochefort and Claudia Cardinale
* The “Star Wars” documentary “The Force Within Us” with an appearance by suburban Chicago director Chris Macht
* The action-comedy “I Declare War”
* The Slamdance award-winner “The Dirties”
* The romantic drama “Leave Me Like You Found Me” with director Adele Romanski in attendance.
* The documentaries “When I Walk” and “The Institute”
* Two programs of shorts featuring selections from around the world and Chicago’s Columbia College students

7 PM: “Stories We Tell” (with Sarah Polley)
10 PM: “Grow Up, Tony Phillips” (with Emily Hagins and Peter Hall)

12 PM: “Grow Up, Tony Phillips” (with Emily Hagins)
1 PM: “Shorts Program #1” (with filmmakers)
2:30 PM: “The Institute”
3:30 PM: “The Force Within Us” (with Cris Macht)
4:30 PM: “Leave Me Like You Found Me” (with Adele Romanski)
6 PM: “The Kings of Summer”
7 PM: “Sparks” (with Chris Folino, William Katt and Ashley Bell)
9 PM: “The Dirties”
10 PM: “Black Rock”

12 PM: “Shorts Program #2” (with filmmakers)
12:15 PM: “The Artist and the Model”
2:30 PM: “Sparks”
2:45 PM: “When I Walk”
4:30 PM: “I Declare War”
5 PM: “The Spectacular Now” (with James Ponsoldt)
6 PM: William Friedkin Book Signing
7:30 PM: William Friedkin Event (title to be announced shortly)

Details at

Individual tickets and festival passes can be  purchased online at

$100: Full Festival Pass (admittance to all screenings and the VIP after-parties on Saturday and Sunday)
$80: Saturday/Sunday Pass (admittance to all films and after-parties on Saturday and Sunday)
$50: Saturday or Sunday Pass (admittance to films and after-party on either Saturday or Sunday)
$25: Friday Pass (admittance to both Friday night screenings)

Individual ticket pricing:
$15: Opening Night presentation of “Stories We Tell”
$15: Closing Night presentation of “The Spectacular Now”
$12: All other feature film presentations
$10: Shorts programs
$15: William Friedkin event


All festival screenings and events will be held at the Muvico Theaters Rosemont 18.
Festival events will be at Bogart’s Bar and Grill on the second floor of the Muvico Theaters Rosemont 18, off of River Road and I-294 in Rosemont, Il. Muvico is easily accessible by public transportation; just a short walk from the Blue Line River Road exit.The Muvico Theaters Rosemont 18 is Chicago’s premiere movie-going experience featuring elegant stadium seating and state-of-the-art Sony 4K digital projection.


The Chicago Film Critics Association has 51 active members dedicated to the appreciation and promotion of excellence in the cinematic arts. The group gave out its first achievement awards in 1989, The annual event has been attended by recipients such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Robert Altman, Anthony Hopkins, Denzel Washington and many other filmmakers.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon