Chicago International Film Festival 2023: 7 Movies for Music Lovers

By Keegan Morris |

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Hayao Miyazaki (Photo: 文部科学省ホームページ, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

North America’s longest continually running competitive film festival returns from October 11 to October 22 for another year of scintillating programming. The lineup has something for everyone; here are some titles that we think music and arts lovers should add to their watchlist.


10/19 at Logan Center for the Arts, Hyde Park; Link

One of cinema’s gentle iconoclasts, Wim Wenders follows up 3D documentaries about architecture and choreographer Pina Bausch with another foray into the art world in this portrait of German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer.

The Boy and the Heron

10/15 at the Music Box Theatre, Lakeview; Link

The beloved catalog of Hayao Miyazaki gains another title in this semi-biographical tale, which sees him re-team with a longtime collaborator: musician and composer Joe Hishaishi.

The Killer

10/17 at the Music Box Theatre, Lakeview; Link

David Fincher’s latest outing features Michael Fassbender as an assassin chasing a target around the world (including Chicago). This thriller features music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, a duo that has already netted an Oscar for a Fincher score (The Social Network).


10/15 & 10/16 at AMC Newcity, Lincoln Park; Link

Hirokazu Kore-eda is one of Japanese cinema’s most important contemporary voices, and here he returns with a score by the great Ruichi Sakamoto (who died earlier this year at age 71), for a tense exploration of societal stigma and suspicion.

The Persian Version

10/17 at AMC Newcity, Lincoln Park; Link

One of the darlings of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Maryam Keshavarz’s film explores culture and identity as a reunion forces Iranian-American woman Leila to confront her understanding of herself and her family. The dance and music-infused film features a score by Iranian-American artist, producer, and composer Rostam Batmanglij, a founding member of Vampire Weekend.


10/17 at Logan Center for the Arts, Hyde Park; Link

A profound study of a monumental — yet relatively unsung — hero of the Civil Rights movement, Colman Domingo shines as Bayard Rustin. Composer, musician, and bandleader Branford Marsalis contributes the music in this refreshing biopic.

They Shot the Piano Player

10/21 at AMC Newcity, Lincoln Park; Link

An intriguing, genre-bending animated documentary investigates the real-life disappearance of Tenorio Jr., a brilliant jazz pianist who vanished at the height of his powers while touring in Argentina in the 1970s. The vividly animated film, which features a voice performance by Jeff Goldblum, casts light on a singular moment in Latin American history and examines the incredible power that music and art can wield.