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FILM Big names show up for 'Marshall' event
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival opened Oct. 12 with a red-carpet event before the screening of the new flick Marshall at AMC River East. It is based on the true story of young lawyer ( and eventual U.S. Supreme Court justice ) Thurgood Marshall defending a Black chauffeur accused of sexual assault.

Star Chadwick Boseman, who plays Marshall, reflected on the diversity in the courtroom. "He goes into a courtroom where he is gagged and can't give his client the best possible defense," Boseman said of Marshall. "It has improved in recent times with the justice system. Thurgood didn't just fight cases; he made law after becoming a Supreme Court justice." When asked about the pressure of being the Avengers' Black Panther, he said, "I'm enjoying the process right now and hope everyone can enjoy it with me!"

Director Reginald Hudlin stopped to talk about singer Andra Day, who was featured in the film; he described her as "blazing! She evokes a classic style and could be a rock star in any time period. Casting her was a no-brainer." When questioned about the size of the part of writer Langston Hughes in the film, "Langston, we expanded a bit because he went to college with Thurgood Marshall. I wanted the film to show he hung out with cool people. He leaves those places to go where people want to kill him. Would we make that choice? That is courageous. We decided to have Langston's friend next to him and acknowledge that part of his life."

Out actor Jussie Smollett ( TV's Empire ) talked about playing Hughes. "I had no idea that Langston and Marshall were such good friends," Smollett said. "We knew they ran in the same circles but that was it. I was honored to be a part of it. The very first big-person book my mom allowed me to read was The Ways of White Folks. I remember wanting to know more about him. He brought people together with his art and poetry. I was inspired by him."

Sterling K. Brown went from the prosecutor's table in The People v. O.J. Simpson to being the defendant, Joseph Spell, in Marshall. "One day I'll play the judge," he joked. "I hope people will be inspired to make the world a better place after watching Marshall. Don't let the status quo fly when people are out there promoting ridiculousness." His new film, Hotel Artemis, is coming out soon with Jodie Foster and Zachary Quinto; he described it as a "wonderful dream come true."

More than 100 films were selected to be shown Oct. 12-26. In between the opening-night festivities and closing night events, there is the OUTLook series, which shines a light on LGBT offerings. Brokeback Mountain-esque God's Own Country and France's Oscar submission 8PM, about the activist group ACT UP, are just a few of the choices. Local director Stephen Cone and actor Malic White are part of the new Princess Cyd film and a Chicagoland teenager is featured in They.

Artistic director Mimi Plauche spoke of the selection process for LGBT films in the festival: "We are looking for strength of storytelling and filmmaking. We always feel you have to be moved in some way by the film and it needs to be engaging. There is a really strong lineup in the OUTLook program this year from around the world."

Visit or call 312-332-FILM ( 3456 ) for a complete schedule of screenings and events .

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