Women directors screen compelling stories at CIFF

The 54th annual Chicago International Film Festival began October 10 and will run through October 21 at the AMC River East Theater. There are 123 films from 135 countries – 38 of those films are directed by women.

The following films round up a some of the “Best of the Fest” so far: Meryem Benm’Barek’s Sofia (Morocco), Johanna Domke and Marouan Omara’s Dream Away (Germany, Egypt, Qatar) and Dominga Sotomayor Castillo’s Too Late to Die Young (Chile, Brazil, Argentina, The Netherlands, Qatar).


Director/writer  Meryem Benm’Barek creates a fast-tracked film that will leave you wanting more. A 20-year-old Sofia (Maha Alemi) suffers from pregnancy denial. Her cousin, who is a doctor as well, Lena (Sarah Perles) examines her and finds that she is pregnant. The film takes place in Morocco, where it’s illegal to be pregnant out of wedlock. Omar (Hamza Khafif) who may, or may not be the father, is reluctant to have a anything to do with Sofia or the baby. French and Arabic, with English subtitles.

There are many twists and turns in this film, which will keep you alert. Every scene is unpredictable. Your eyes will be glued to the screen. The acting is far from contrived. You feel like you’re watching people’s real lives unfold, despite the fact that it’s fictional. There is a major turn of events that is mind blowing and life changing. This is for you, if you like drama and unpredictability. (SAT: 5/5)

Buy tickets to a screening: Saturday, October 20, 2018 @ 12:00 pm



A poignant and profound film, directors/writers Johanna Domke and Marouan Omara, create a film that is thought provoking. It takes place at an impecunious resort in Egypt. The employees are underpaid and overworked, in search of better situations in life. Arabic and English with English subtitles.

Each character is put into their own box yet fused into one another lives. They are vulnerable with their anecdotes and backgrounds with each other and the audience. (SAT: 4/5)

Buy tickets to a screening: Sun, Oct 14 @ 5:15 pm OR Mon, Oct 15 @ 3:30 pm


Too Late to Die Young (Tarde para morir joven)

This film is a period piece that takes place in the 1990s. The main character, Sofia (Demian Hernández), is on the verge of young adulthood who lives with her father in Chile. She longs to live with her mother who is a singer and vows to come and get her on New Year’s Eve. Sofia seems to feel trapped under her current conditions.The community is a rural area where people live under simple conditions. When a disruption in their lives comes about, they are caught off-guard and have to deal with it head-on. Spanish, English subtitles.

While the characters are believable and the plot is solid, the film drags along and leaves much to be desired toward the end. However, the vulnerability in which the main character has will have you feeling empathetic toward her, with the realization that we all yearn to be free.  (SAT: 3/5)

Buy tickets to a screening: Monday, October 15, 2018 @ 5:45pm

To learn more about the 54th Annual Chicago International Film Festival or to purchase tickets, visit the CIFF website.

© Stephanie A. Taylor (10/11/18) FF2 Media

Photo credits: Chicago International Film Festival

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Stephanie A. Taylor is a multi-award-winning journalist whose accolades span three publications including FF2. Some of her favorite articles she's written are Emma Cooper’s ‘The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Tapes, FACETS Honors Chaz Ebert F2F at Screen Gems 2022 Benefit, and Dorothy Arzner’s ‘Merrily We Go to Hell’ Discusses Modern Day Problems. She currently lives in Chicago. Reading, writing, and watching old films are some of her many passions.
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