The Chicago International Film Festival is held every fall since 1964. The Festival's program consists of many categories including the International Competition, New Directors Competition, Docufest, Black Perspectives, Cinema of the Americas, and Reel Women. The International Connections Program was founded in 2003 to raise awareness of the international film culture and diversity of Chicago. Foreign movies are screened for free at theaters from July through September.
Filmmaker and graphic artist Michael Kutza founded the festival as an alternative to the commercial Hollywood movies. The festival featured François Truffaut, Orson Welles, Sophia Loren, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Satyajit Ray, Howard Hawks, George Cukor, Spike Lee, Luchino Visconti, Faye Dunaway, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino. It has introduced directors like Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Bertrand Tavernier, Margarethe von Trotta, and Krzysztof Kieslowski.
Most of the Chicago International Film Festival events take place in the AMC River East 21 (322 East Illinois Street), with some special events being an exception.