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Hi.

My name is Gary Zidek. Welcome to The Arts Section. Tune into the radio program every Sunday morning on WDCB 90.9 & 90.7 FM or listen to it online here. I'll be showcasing a variety of arts & entertainment, as well as.highlighting some creative ideas.

A Life In Film: Sitting Down With Chicago International Film Festival Founder/CEO Michael Kutza

A Life In Film: Sitting Down With Chicago International Film Festival Founder/CEO Michael Kutza

WDCB’s Gary Zidek talks to Chicago International Film Festival Founder Michael Kutza about the origins of the fest, Roger Ebert and what’s next.

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“Sentimental, I’m a hopeless romantic. I love movies, I cry at cartoons. In real life? Very little. Sentimental? (pause) If you like movies, I guess you can be and are, huh?” - Michael Kutza responding to question of whether he’s sentimental and thinks he might get emotional at the end of this edition of the festival.

 Chicago International Film Festival Founder/CEO Michael Kutza in his office. Above him to the left is the poster for the inaugural Chicago International Film Festival.

Chicago International Film Festival Founder/CEO Michael Kutza in his office. Above him to the left is the poster for the inaugural Chicago International Film Festival.

This past Spring, Michael Kutza announced he was retiring from his position of CEO of Chicago International Film Festival at the end of the year. When Kutza officially steps away, it will truly mark the end of an era. Just as the film industry has evolved in ways we could never have imagined over the past 50 years, so has the Chicago International Film Festival.  And Kutza has been there the entire time.

What prompted Kutza to start a film festival in his home city? Several factors came into play, but Kutza’s original love of cinema can be attributed in part to his parents (though if they had their way, he would’ve taken a different career path).

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“I lived through the other festivals, because it made me realize, they had all the money in the world and we didn’t. So my feeling was, I had to make Chicago look like those festivals. I’ve always built the festival on a scheme of smoke and mirrors. Which some people think is negative, but smoke and mirrors is, you perceive when you come to the Chicago Film Festival that we’re just as big as the others. But of course we’re not, we don’t have a budget like Toronto or Sundance or New York. We look like we do, but we don’t. We do things very carefully and frugally.” - Michael Kutza talking about how his travels around the world influenced his approach to creating the Chicago International Film Festival.

 A look at the posters inside Michael Kutza’s office

A look at the posters inside Michael Kutza’s office

Kutza will officially retire at the end of the year. But he says he has plenty of projects to keep him busy, including writing a memoir titled “Who’s Looking”. In the meantime, he’s excited about the 54th edition of the Chicago International Film Festival.

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The 54th Chicago International Film Festival kicks off Wednesday October 10 and continues through Sunday October 21. Go to chicagofilmfestival.com for a complete schedule and more information about this year’s fest.

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