LAKEVIEW — A film festival spotlighting young creators is returning this month to Lincoln Park.
This year’s event — CineYouth’s first in-person festival since 2019 — will be held April 22-24 at FACETS, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., according to an announcement from Cinema/Chicago. The films will also be screened online April 25-May 1.
Tickets to the CineYouth film festival are available on its website.
This year’s CineYouth will feature 71 short films written and directed by filmmakers 22 years and younger from 17 countries, said Festival Director Ryan Saunders. This year’s youngest filmmaker is 8 years old.
“These young filmmakers are setting the bar for the next generation of cinema,” Saunders said. “These artists have created inspiring, challenging and insightful films despite the uniquely difficult environment in which they have worked over these last two years.”
The three-day festival kicks off 7 p.m. April 22 with its Chicagoland shorts program, which features 11 short films that highlight experiences throughout the city.
In “Let Us Breathe,” a team of 22-year-old filmmakers follows student activists protesting Reserve Management Group’s failed efforts to relocate its General Iron assets from Lincoln Park to the Southeast Side.
“It’s a really spirited documentary about young activists and students fighting for an environmentally clean Chicago,” Saunders said. “The whole program showcases the real breadth of stories and storytellers in the Chicago area.”
Another program, Searching for Home, features five short films about the immigrant experience and themes of finding a sense of home in a new country. It’s being screened 1 p.m. April 24.
During that program, a film, “The days we will not forget,” will share the story of a migrant from Africa who is settling in Barcelona, Saunders said. The film is directed by a group of 15- to 20-year-olds who migrated alone from Gambia, Senegal, Morocco, Ghana and Guinea.
“The whole program will be about the immigrant experience and feature a hybrid of documentaries and fiction films that showcase what it’s like finding ‘home’ in your new home,” Saunders said.
Other programs include Playtime: Animation, which features animated shorts from Australia, Kyrgyzstan, India and Poland; documentary shorts series “Speak, Memory: Documentary;” and “Project a World: Experimental,” which features claymation, digital collages, 16-millimeter photography, triptych displays and other innovate filmmaking techniques, Saunders said.
“It really does feel like you’re getting a window into the future of cinema and what the trends are going to be,” Saunders said. “These filmmakers are extremely socially conscious both in terms of their formal approaches to the films and also the subject matter. They’re providing a voice that is typically not heard in the filmmaking industry.”
Every year, the submissions get stronger, Saunders said.
“Each year, the work becomes even more proficient and professional,” Saunders said. “There’s remarkable filmmakers that are even better than Hollywood filmmakers, and they’re at the age of 13.”
The festival will also feature two filmmaking workshops for students registered in CineYouth, Saunders said.
The first workshop, happening 1 p.m. April 23, is on post-production workflow and will be taught by Rubin Daniels, a freelance editor who’s worked on “City So Real,” a National Geographic series directed by Steve James and James’ series “America to Me.”
The second — on inclusive screenwriting practices — is taught by Jess King, a filmmaker and professor at DePaul University. It’s happening noon April 24.
The festival will culminate with an awards ceremony in which honors will be given to youth filmmakers in 10 categories:
- Rising Star
- Social Impact Award
A selection of the award-winning films will be screened at the 58th Chicago International Film Festival, which is set to happen Oct. 12-23.
“It’s very invigorating, and I’m thrilled for the festival to be back in person,” Saunders said. “It’s always so exciting having the young filmmakers there because there’s just so much energy in the theater.”
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: