55th Chicago International Film Festival Selects Five Film Projects for “The Pitch”

Chicago International Film Festival Industry Days

Filmmakers Compete for Pitch Prize Worth Over $20,000 To Make their Movies

( October 9, 2019 ) -

The 55th Chicago International Film Festival announced a slate of five narrative feature film projects in active development that will be pitched in front of a live audience and a panel of distinguished industry judges during the Festival’s Industry Days on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. Now in its fifth year, The Pitch at Industry Days has established itself as a leading industry showcase spotlighting bold, original work from the Chicago region.

Past projects from The Pitch at Industry Days have gone onto completion, including Jennifer Reader’s “Signature Move,” and two films showing at this year’s Chicago International Film Festival: “Knives and Skin,” also directed by Jennifer Reeder, and Haroula Rose’s “Once Upon a River.”

This year’s filmmakers represent a diversity of voices that continue to reinforce the breadth and vitality of Chicago-area filmmakers and projects. From a John Belushi family comedy to a Mexican-American fable, from a feminist mystery thriller to dramas about a 20-something woman finding her way and a desperate single mother losing hers, the selected projects display character-driven storytelling at its finest. See below for the full list.

The winning pitch receives an awards package of in-kind goods and services worth tens of thousands of dollars. Contributors include Keslow Camera, Stage 18, Chicago Media Angels, Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP, and the Tribeca Film Institute.

“We want to see these films get made,” said Chicago International Film Festival and Industry Days Senior Programmer Anthony Kaufman. “And The Pitch is a terrific way for the Festival to support and encourage these local filmmakers, and the winning project gets a huge boost with networking meetings with executives both in Chicago and New York and a great package of in-kind services.”

This year’s Pitch jury includes Bryce Norbitz, Director of Scripted Programs at the Tribeca Film Institute; Joshua Foster, Executive in film finance and production department at Cinetic Media; and Stephen Cone, the award-winning director of “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party” and “Princess Cyd.”

The Pitch at Industry Days will take place at 1:30pm on October 20th, 2019 at the Chicago Cultural Center’s 5th Floor Millennium Park Room, and is open to both festival badge holders and the public.

To register for Industry Days, go to:

The selected projects for 2019’s The Pitch at Industry Days are:

America’s Guest
Director/Writer/Producer: Justin Shady
Director/Producer: Neal E. Fischer
In 1979, on a warm summer night in Chicago, a middle-class family teetering on the brink of divorce is forever changed when actor John Belushi—who just so happens to be filming a scene for The Blues Brothers down the street—knocks on their front door and invites himself in for dinner.

Carrie On
Director/Writer: Tayler Vee Robinson
Producer: Eugene Sun Park
Carrie moves to Chicago to start over, but gets herself entangled in a messy affair with an ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend instead.

Director/Writer/Producer: Jim Vendiola
Writer/Producer: Shelley Gustavson
Following a traumatic breakdown, a bratty young art student is forced to recover in the isolation of her father’s mid-construction home. But as she works to rebuild her world, she stumbles across a dark, decades-old mystery.

Director/Writer: Emily Esperanza
Producers: Brian Khan, Eugene Sun Park
An undocumented bathroom attendant at a seedy vaudevillian nightclub longs to be a famous singer and strikes a deal with the devil to make her dreams a reality.

Three Hours
Director/Writer: Aemilia Scott
Producer: Holli McGinley
A single mother living on the edge in Chicago’s Humboldt Park has three hours to find someone, anyone, to care for her child, or risk losing the job that keeps both of them from losing their home.

About Industry Days
The Chicago International Film Festival’s hub for filmmakers and industry professionals to connect, share ideas and inspire each other, the Industry Days (Oct. 17-20) program includes panels and workshops as well as roundtable meetings, networking events, and a competitive pitch session, which all take place during the Festival (Oct. 16-27, 2019). Events are held at the Festival’s main venue, the AMC River East 21, located in the Streeterville neighborhood in downtown Chicago with a few events happening at the Chicago Cultural Center.

This year’s Keynote Conversation, “From Theatrical Campaigns to Streaming Wars,” features Bob Berney, former Head of Marketing and Distribution at Amazon Studios. Additional featured events include Master Classes with screenwriter Steven Conrad (Patriot), Oscar-winning Production Designer Hannah Beachler (Black Panther) and Adam Stockhausen (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and a Case Study of Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Clemency with director Chinonye Chukwu and producer Bronwyn Cornelius.

Since its inception in 2015, Industry Days has hosted an impressive lineup of film executives and entertainment professionals, including Michael Barker (Sony Pictures Classics) and Charles D. King (Macro), Hollywood producers Gigi Pritzker and James D. Stern, and award-winning and celebrated filmmakers, including Stephen Cone, Julie Dash, Steve McQueen, and Sam Pollard.

Industry Days are made possible by the help of our sponsors and partners: AbelCine, Aberlour, Camera Ambassador, Chicago Film Office, Chloe Wine Collection, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, DePaul University, Goose Island, Hamilton Watch, Illinois Film Office, Panavision, PRG, SAGindie, Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP

Festival Sponsors and Partners
The 55th Chicago International Film Festival’s sponsors include Major Festival Sponsors: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Chloe Wine Collection, Citi, Columbia College Chicago, Xfinity; Festival Sponsors: Aberlour, Baker Tilly, Blue Cross Blue Shield, British International School of Chicago, South Loop, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, DePaul University, Goose Island, Hamilton Watch, Panavision, SAGindie, Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP, William Blair; Official Agency: Ogilvy; Headquarter Hotel: St. Jane; Host Hotel: Ambassador Chicago; Participating Hotels: EMC2, The Whitehall Hotel; Airline Partner: LOT Polish Airlines; Festival Supporters: National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Illinois Film Office, Chicago Film Office, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE),The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Sarofsky, Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico, AbelCine, PRG, Camera Ambassador, Ayre Productions; Media Partners: NCM, WTTW, WBBM, CHIRP; Partners: Beyond Events Catering, Chez, Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago Gourmet, Choose Chicago, Chop Shop, Goat Group Catering, Robert’s Pizza and Dough Company, Marchesa, Midwest Immersive, Museum of Contemporary Art, Steak 48

About Cinema/Chicago
Cinema/Chicago, the presenting organization of the Chicago International Film Festival, is a year-round nonprofit arts and education organization dedicated to fostering better communication between people of diverse cultures through the art of film and the moving image. Cinema/Chicago’s programs include the Chicago International Film Festival, Summer Screenings ProgramCineYouth Festival, and year-round Education Program. Celebrating its 55th edition October 16-27, 2019, the Chicago International Film Festival is North America’s longest-running competitive film festival.  For more information, please visit www.chicagofilmfestival.com or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitter.