Chi fest opens today with Lemmon tribute

The 28th annual Chicago Intl. Film Festival opens today with a gala tribute to two-time Oscar-winner Jack Lemmon, who will receive the fest’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Film critic Roger Ebert and local TV anchor Bill Kurtis will emcee the Lemmon love-in, featuring a retrospective of Lemmon’s film work and appearances by Walter Matthau, Tony Curtis and Ann Blyth.

This year’s fest will unspool a tight list of slightly more than 100 pix, down from around 130 last year, at two principal venues: Loews Pipers Alley Theaters and the Music Box Theater.

Hef pic preem

Highlights of the fest include the Oct. 14 world premiere of the feature-length documentary “Hugh Hefner: Once Upon a Time,” about the Playboy magazine founder. The 90-minute biopic from Lynch/Frost Prods. includes interviews with Hefner’s friends and enemies. Hefner is expected to attend the premiere screening.

On Oct. 15, the fest will premiere “The Magical World of Chuck Jones,” a look at the artistry of the Warner Bros. animator. The Jones film includes comments from Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg and Friz Freling, among others.

Another fest highlight is expected to be a career retrospective of the work of Kathleen Turner, who will receive the Piper-Heidsieck Award for Outstanding Achievement at an Oct. 16 reception hosted by film critic Gene Siskel. Fest tributes to producer Arthur Cohn and Israeli director Dan Wolman also are planned.

Notable U.S. film premieres include Bruce Beresford’s “Rich in Love” and Liv Ullmann’s “Sofie.” Fest also will honor Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal with screenings of six of his pictures.

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