French Oscar Hopeful ‘Happening’ to Hold North American Premiere at Chicago Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

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Audrey Diwan’s “Happening,” one of the three shortlisted films to represent France for the upcoming 94th Academy Awards, will make its North American premiere at the Chicago Film Festival as part of the Global Currants and Women in Cinema program on Saturday, Oct. 17.

“Happening” (L’événement) had its world premiere at the 78th Venice Film Festival. The film won the Golden Lion, making Diwan one of only five women who have ever won the festival’s top prize since 1949.

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Just acquired by IFC Films and FilmNation, the film is an adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s novel of the same name that looks back on her experience with abortion when it was still illegal in France in the 1960s. “Diwan’s ‘Happening’ is a timely exploration of the choices women have to make and is a powerful appeal for personal freedoms,” said Chicago International Film Festival artistic director Mimi Plauché.

“Audrey Diwan’s quietly devastating sophomore feature is the latest in an ongoing run of tough, emotionally intelligent art films dealing frankly with the subject of abortion access,” wrote Guy Lodge in his Variety review.

The cast includes Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet-Klein, Sandrine Bonnaire, Louise Orry-Diquéro, Louise Chevillotte, Pio Marmaï, Anna Mouglalis, Fabrizio Rongione, Luàna Bajrami, Leonor Oberson, Julien Frison and Alice de Lencquesaing. Édouard Weil and Alice Girard serve as producers.

Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or-winning horror film “Titane” and Cedric Jimenez’s cop thriller “Bac Nord” have also been shortlisted by France’s Oscar committee. The French Oscar candidate is expected to be selected Tuesday. In the history of the international feature category, only nine women directors have represented France.

The 57th edition of the Chicago Film Festival will run from Oct. 13-24, with virtual screenings and in-person events requiring full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test to attend. The festival will open with Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” and include screenings of Todd Haynes’ “The Velvet Underground,” Pedro Almodóvar’s “Parallel Mothers” and Jesse Moss’ “Mayor Pete.”

IFC Films will release “Happening” in 2022.

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