Edited excerpts from releases from local film events and producers about cancellations and postponements.
With the declaration of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak as a pandemic by the World Health Organization and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s directive that events of 1,000 people or more be canceled or postponed immediately, the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago will postpone the thirty-sixth Chicago Latino Film Festival. The Festival was scheduled for April 16-30 at the AMC River East 21 Theatres and the first wave of selected titles had been announced. New dates will be announced in the near future.
“After monitoring the progress of the outbreak as well as recent developments, we came to this inevitably hard and difficult, but right, decision. We were really looking forward to sharing the program with the city’s moviegoers and our filmmaker guests were really excited about taking part in the Festival. But their health, as well as that of our staff members and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who contribute their time and energy to our event, is of paramount importance. We hope to announce our next steps soon,” said Pepe Vargas, founder and executive director of the International Latino Cultural Center, producer of the Chicago Latino Film Festival. All tickets purchased will be fully refunded.
Dear Kartemquin Community,
We wanted to reach out during this challenging, uncertain moment and share how Kartemquin is responding to COVID-19—the impact on our work and the anticipated after effects.
Earlier this week, we made preparations for a work-from-home protocol starting Monday, March 16. Our plan is to work remotely through at least the end of March. We will evaluate the local and national public health responses before making a decision on re-opening our building when we can ensure the safety of our staff and filmmakers, and that there is no possible negative impact on our neighbors and local citizens. To be clear, the KTQ building will be closed during this period and we will not accommodate any visitors.
What will this mean for our community and programming?
Our March Diverse Voices in Docs (DVID) workshop next weekend will be held via teleconference. We will continue to monitor public health guidance in determining the viability of an April in-person DVID workshop.
We are working to have a remote edition of our March 24 installment of KTQ Labs, “Scenes from a Glittering World.” Check back for more details on how you can participate.
In the last week, COVID-19 has affected the slate of KTQ films planned for 2020 release. Multiple festival cancellations have had an impact on the entire film industry. Among those films are five Kartemquin films, including four world premieres, and three films that are the debut features by those directors, who are also graduates of our filmmaker development programs. We are devastated for the filmmakers involved in “The Dilemma of Desire,” “Finding Yingying,” “Represent,” “Unapologetic” and “City So Real.”
These films have been denied, or at least delayed, some of the most enjoyable moments in filmmaking: their premiere screenings, with participants, crew, friends, supporters, and the public present to celebrate years of effort, craft and investment. Every festival has an obligation to protect the health and safety of all visitors, participants and host cities. We look forward to presenting this work to the Kartemquin community as soon as possible, and will update on modified plans to share these new releases. We understand the decisions and stand in solidarity with the countless organizers and volunteers of SXSW, CIFF, Full Frame and every other festival and major event affected. As the film industry looks toward this period of uncertainty, we want to pledge to be part of a collective response that allows all of this work to still have the exhibition they deserve.
As these filmmakers and their teams regroup, we ask the Kartemquin community grant us patience in an uncertain moment and during a period with reduced staff capacity. We are grateful for your understanding, loyalty, and continued support. We know so many of you are affected financially, physically and emotionally by the pandemic and hope you continue to be mindful of your physical and mental health during this unprecedented situation.
The Chicago Critics Film Festival, scheduled for May 1-7 at the Music Box, is postponed until further notice, in response to developing public health concerns. Following the announcements by Governor Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot and other government leadership on Thursday evening that included recommendations on significantly limiting community events, festival organizers acknowledge that hosting a weeklong gathering in the midst of a developing situation is not in the best interest of those involved or those who would attend. Film festivals take months of preparation and planning. While the major concerns may have subsided by early May, the organizers have made this decision out of an abundance of caution, a phrase widely used recently but nevertheless entirely accurate.
CFCA leadership are evaluating the best course forward and no determination has been made regarding whether the Chicago Critics Film Festival will take place later in the year, if at all. Like all of us, organizers are monitoring the situation and adjusting plans in order to balance both their desire to present the best event possible and very real public health concerns. The team will provide ongoing updates to festival plans as they have them.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.