This was my first time visiting Chicago (not counting a brief layover at O'Hare I had several years ago). I had been meaning to visit for many years when I had friends who lived in the city, but never got around to ever making the trip.
We had our US premiere for Sunflower Girl at the 40th edition of the Chicago Int'l Children's Film Festival, this was finally my chance to see the windy city in person after all these years.
As a native New Yorker, visiting other large American cities brings a natural sense of skepticism to me.
However, I was pleasantly surprised once I touched down in the Midwest capital.
There was an undeniable charm about the city that I only knew from classic Christmas movies and early 90s romcoms. I was delighted to find this positive trope somewhat true to the energy of the city. Chicago has a wholesome hometown feel for a large metropolitan area. 
The architecture of both the old marble business buildings, modern skyscrapers, and residential town homes was both stunning and charming. I might even admit more aesthetically pleasing than even the buildings of my home city. The people, like the food, are also diverse and comforting.
The most rewarding part of attending film festivals - even if in your home country - is meeting filmmakers from all over the world and sharing experiences together.

Watching the sunset from the Hancock building with new friends.

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