CIFF this week: ‘Olympia’ and ‘Core of the World’ part of Women in Cinema

In part one of FF2 Media’s “Best of the Fest” coverage for the 54th Annual Chicago International Film Festival, we covered several interesting films directed by women. CIFF will run through October 21 at the AMC River East Theater. Support female filmmakers by attending the festival and screening McKenzie Chinn’s Olympia (United States) and Natalya Meshchaninova’s Core of the World (Russia,Lithuania).


This witty and heartwarming film takes place in Chicago and involves an artist named Olympia (McKenzie Chinn ) who is stagnant and fearful of change. Her boyfriend, Felix (Charles Andrew Gardner) gets a job out of state in California and wants Olympia to move with him. But the seemingly lighthearted film has dark and dramatic twists.

Making her dazzling feature debut, Chicago writer-actor McKenzie Chinn stars as a struggling artist, navigating work and romance in the Windy City. When her boyfriend asks her to drop everything and move cross-country, she soon discovers that her biggest obstacle may be herself. Featuring quirky animation and a revelatory central performance, Olympia is a heartfelt story for anyone who’s ever felt adrift on the rough seas of adulthood. – CIFF Synopsis

Cinematography is exquisite as it gives Bird’s Eye views of the city. Vivid animations with colorful outlines are included. The soundtrack is a combination of funky rock/Blues, which adds a certain pep to the film. It’s also poignant and insightful. The cast is superb. Chinn plays her role especially well as she plays an artist who tries to find her way. (SAT: 5/5)

Buy tickets to a screening Tuesday, October 16, 2018 @ 8:45pm

Buy tickets to a screening: Friday, October 19, 2018 @ 1pm


Core of the World

Natalya Meshchaninova’s film is beautifully brutal. The plot follows a vet named Egor (Stepan Devonin) who lives on a rural farm next to a family who runs a business that trains hunting dogs. Egor takes care of the animals by treating them, cleaning cages and feeding them. The film shows how raw our emotions could be, especially when we’re alone – particularly when Egor paces back and forth alone in the dark as he sobs bitterly.

Egor, a young man from a troubled background, works as a vet at a training facility for dogs in provincial Russia. For him, getting along with animals is much easier than dealing with humans. Luckily, in this primeval place, animals abound. And the family that he works for might offer a means to heal his emotional wounds. This sensitive, revelatory film nabbed top prize at the Sochi Film Festival. – CIFF Synopsis

DIRECTOR Natalia Meshchaninova COUNTRY Russia,Lithuania CATEGORY New Directors Competition, Spotlight: Women in Cinema

The film is compelling and tugs at the heartstrings. The child actor who plays Ivan (Vitya Ovodkov) is very convincing as a blatantly mischievous boy who drives his mother, Dasha (Yana Sekste) crazy. It’s touching to see the bond between Egor and Ivon.

The film reminds you that there’s darkness in the world, but it also gives hope that there are specks of humanity and love. (SAT: 3/5)

Buy tickets to a screening: Monday, October 15, 2018 @ 8:45pm

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

© Stephanie A. Taylor (10/15/18) FF2 Media

Featured photo:


  •   Gregory Dixon
  •   United States
  •   Black Perspectives, City & State, World Cinema
  •   Romance, Women’s Experiences

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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