CHICAGO, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) — The pulse-racing, real-life story of a black chauffeur fighting his wealthy employer in a rape and attempted murder case that boosted the U.S. civil rights movement kicked off the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) Thursday night.
Reginald Hudlin, director of the 2017 biopic “Marshall”, and its key actors walked the red carpet at the AMC River East 21 theater, where a long line formed to attend the screening of feature film starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown and James Cromwell.
“I’m quite excited about opening the festival with ‘Marshall’ today,” CIFF artistic director Mimi Plauche said. “The film recounts a story from America’s civil rights movement and it continues to resonate today.”
“Marshall” is based on an incident in the life of Thurgood Marshall, descendant of an African family forced into slavery in the United States and the first black judge in the U.S. Supreme Court, when he was a young lawyer.
Against the backdrop of a United States on the brink of World War II, Marshall was sent to defend Joseph Spell, a black chauffeur who was falsely accused of rape and attempted murder of his socialite employer in conservative Connecticut.
Marshall, along with his partner sam Friedman, a Jewish lawyer, fought against fear and prejudice in a segregationist court. The sensational trial helped set the groundwork for the civil rights movement.
“Many young people are not familiar (with) the hard legal battles we fought,” said John Marshall, Thurgood Marshall’s son who attended the opening of the film festival. “If a black and a Jewish attorney could do so much then, we can do a lot today, and a lot still needs to be done.”
“The film wouldn’t have been done if it didn’t get Chinese funding,” said Boseman, who plays Marshall in the film. “I’m incredibly grateful for their interest in our story.”
Boseman said he has never been to China but would love to go there.
Hudlin said the film would “definitely” be shown in China, adding that he was very excited about the prospect.
“Whenever black and Chinese culture mix, it’s always a tremendous success,” he said, in a reference to martial arts icon Bruce Lee’s films and other projects.
Of more than 5,000 films submitted from 95 countries, the festival selected 139 features.
Plauche said the theme of the festival differs each year. The 53rd CIFF is focusing on film noir, which, she said, “is a reflection of the general mood in the world today.”
Competition categories at the festival include international, new directors, and documentary. The winner of the international competition will be awarded the top honor, the Gold Hugo.
The CIFF will run till Oct. 26.