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Stream/screen + reviews of "ROY'S WORLD: BARRY GIFFORD'S CHICAGO"


Roy's World: Barry Gifford's Chicago is now available to stream via Fandor, Amazon Video, Vudu, Hoopla, Kanopy, Apple TV, and other apps—browse a partial list at JustWatch or Letterboxd.


World PremiereFebruary 28 & 29, 2020: Glasgow Film Festival

March 10, 2020: Manchester Film Festival

June 12, 2020: Cheltenham Online International Film Festival [virtual presentation]

North American PremiereSeptember 2 & 6, 2020: Dances With Films: LA [virtual presentation]

September 18, 2020: SF DocFest [virtual presentation]

February 19 - 28, 2021: Beloit International Film Festival [virtual presentation] *WINNER: BEST ILLINOIS FEATURE*

September 18, 2021: Soo Film Festival

Chicago Premiere—November 13, 2021: Chicago Critics Film Festival

March 4 - 5, 2022: encore presentation, Beloit International Film Festival

April 14 + 16 + 30, 2022: The Wilmette Theatre, Wilmette, IL


"So immersive you can almost sense the smell of the Chicago streets ... I loved its sense of place, its unique human and physical geography. A beautiful, original and resonant film."

— Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries)

"Puts us in the thrall of young Huckleberry/Roy’s life ... Wise and painful tales of the individual that are about us all." — Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff)

"Moody, poignant and rich in humour ... Christopher suggests that we are all made of stories. In a city like Chicago, one might believe that, and this immersive film will take you there. You don’t need to be a fan of Gifford’s work to enjoy it, but you’ll be ready to hunt that down when you leave." [Jennie Kermode]

"Impressionistic and slippery ... Director Rob Christopher is drawn to the visual drama of Kodachrome nightscapes, saturated in turquoise shadows and tantalizing, forbidden scarlets. Elsewhere, the footage takes on an almost abstract quality: the editing, by Marianna Milhorat, is sensual and expressive. Adding to the grungy, down-at-heel glamour of the visuals is a terrific jazz score, heavy on sleazy brass and vibraphone. Roy’s World also employs animated segments, to gorgeous effect." Screen International [Wendy Ide]

"A powerful and artfully entertaining new film ... There is nothing sentimental about this remarkable story, this film." Chicago Tribune [Rick Kogan]

"Altogether wonderful ... Jason Adasiewicz’s original jazz score neatly sets the mood and the place, adding another bittersweet layer of pleasure." KQED [Michael Fox]

"It’s a documentary less interested in the historical beats as much as it is the people affected by them. Gifford’s work is used as a conduit to discuss the prominence of racism, crime, and poverty throughout Chicago’s history, in a way that always feels invigorating and not didactic ... So much of the film seems to be about the ability of art and design to transcend its original intentions, becoming special and preserved in the hearts and souls of millions of different citizens. It’s a film not about the nature of creation, but about the wonderful aftermath that the work brings, and the deep satisfaction of knowing that you’re a part of that continuation in any small way. It’s beautiful and more in spirit with the work of its subject than any potential talking heads documentary could have ever been." The Film Stage [Logan Kenny]

"A documentary for the senses. Roy’s World transcends audiences to a romantic, 1950's Chicago of the past, where the winters made you tougher, and the neighborhoods had a unique appreciation for the arts. The addition of airy and harmonious jazz music creates a noir feeling, while the writing of Gifford’s is whisking you away to another place and time ... Rob Christopher has done exquisite work." Leo Brady []

"Manages to capture all the complexity and streetwise beauty of Roy’s (and Gifford’s) early life, and its transformation into literature that encapsulates the city’s world of desire, grift, toughness and solidarity ... The film brings this half-fictional, half-real world to life in sound and image, a combination of visual noir and spoken-word, an evocation that is pure and gritty cinematic poetry."

"A nimble complex ... A topography of dreams, a dream of topography, a document of impressionistic finery that matches vintage footage to Gifford’s own words of youth and to in-betweens of apt animation."

"A wonderful, unique and intriguing feature that oozes nostalgia and the Chicago vibe."

"It’s creatively infectious and feels unexpectedly alive ... The more you experience the art – in this case, Gifford’s storytelling prowess – the more obvious it becomes how his work offers us a way in which to see our own past and present in a new light." Keeping It Reel [David J. Fowlie]

"[Jason Adasiewicz's] music evokes the skyscrapers, harsh winters, buzzing nightclubs and intimate family moments that we see onscreen, transporting the audience to Chicago during this time period and the authenticity gives the film an aura of realism."

"Chicago-based director Christopher gets under the skin of the City of the Big Shoulders with a luxurious combo of period footage plus in-character voice-overs by actors Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor. Animated sequences by Lilli Caré and Kevin Askew, working in sync with Jason Adasiewicz’s sophisticated ’50s-style jazz score, reinforce the mood. The effect is fully nostalgic yet magically wised-up, like Roy himself." East Bay Express [Kelly Vance].

"The footage depicting the era in question is absolutely spellbinding to behold ... even those who are unfamiliar with [Gifford's] work are likely to find it compelling viewing." [Peter Sobczynski]

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