The 54th Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) opened Wednesday night with an emotional story about a family coping with the son's drug addiction.
Based on the best-selling memoirs by father David and his son Nic Sheff, the film "Beautiful Boy" has Academy Award-nominee actors Steve Carell starring in "Foxcatcher" as father and Timothee Chalamet starring in "Call Me by Your Name" as son.
"We are excited to open our festival with such a powerful film," said Mimi Plauche, Artistic Director of CIFF. This year's films will "stir your soul, engage your mind, have you in stitches, and reduce you to tears," she added.
Director Felix Van Groeningen of "The Broken Circle Breakdown," nominated for best foreign film in 2014, walked the red carpet along with actress, playwright and also Golden Globe Award winner Regina Taylor and actor Andre Royo.
"'Beautiful Boy' is ultimately a story about unconditional love," said Groeningen in an interview with Xinhua.
"I hope people will be touched in a way that they would have empathy for those trapped in such a situation and start conversation, support and understanding," he said.
Groenigen said he has plans to distribute the film in China. "I'm super excited about it," he said. "It will be my first film ever coming out in China. I hope I'll go because I have never been to China."
The festival this year will pay special tributes to several important artists, including graphic art director Art Paul, filmmaker William Friedkin, actress Carey Mulligan, costume designer Ruth Carter, and co-founder of CIFF Colleen Moore.
Asian American director Jennifer Hou Kwong's "Art Paul of Playboy: the Man Behind the Bunny" will be presented as a tribute to Art Paul. The film narrates Paul's life and his influences on graphic design and American pop culture. CIFF will present a "Chicago Award of Artistic Excellence" posthumously to Paul at the festival.
More than 10 films from Asia have also been selected for the festival, including three from China.
Jia Zhangke's "Ash is Purest White," starring Zhao Tao and Liao Fan, is a crime saga set in modern China; Teng Gaopeng's "The Road Not Taken," a narrative feature set in the Gobi desert, focuses on the relationship between a farmer and a kidnapped boy.
"The Road Not Taken" is part of the comedy section and also in New Directors' competition. "The film is funny," Plauche said. "We all got blew away when we first saw it." Director Teng and his team will also attend the film festival.
"We are really very excited about what's happening in Chinese cinema now," Plauche said. "There are a lot of great films to choose from China."
CIFF runs several competitions, including International Competition, New Directors Competition, Documentary Competition and Out-Look Competition. The festival will run till Oct. 21.