One year after the hate attack, the Oak Creek community comes together at The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin
Patrice O’Neill has followed hate crimes since reporting twenty years ago on the ground in Billings, Montana. “One town can learn from another’s tragedy,” she observes. As The Working Group’s “Not In Our Town” executive producer, she will show their documentary short “Waking in Oak Creek” as part of the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago on December 10. Produced in 2014 in conjunction with the Department of Justice COPS Office, “Waking in Oak Creek” profiles efforts made by local law enforcement, faith leaders, community members and youth to rebuild trust, connection and understanding among Sikhs and other members of a suburban community in the wake of a horrific crime. On August 5, 2012, a lone gunman attacked worshippers preparing lunch just before services at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. The gunman, tied to white supremacist groups, took his life and the lives of six worshippers, after injuring several others, including a local police officer who was shot fifteen times. “We can’t just be sad, we can’t just be mad, we have to do something during hate crime tragedies. That’s the message of ‘Waking in Oak Creek,'” she says.
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In “I Lost It At The Video Store: A Filmmakers’ Oral History of a Vanished Era” (The Critical Press, $25), Tom Roston’s lozenge-sized history covering three decades of an all-but-vanished era, filmmaker-conversationalist Kevin Smith puts it as unromantically as you can imagine. “I’m a movie lover at heart, so the quickest, easiest way you can get it to me is A-okay. I need it in me. I just need the movie in me.” But Smith is trumped by Quentin Tarantino, who says in a flurry of words, “I like something hard and tangible in my hand. And I can’t watch a movie on a laptop. I don’t use Netflix at all. I don’t have any sort of delivery system.” Tarantino adopted his very own videotheque atop his vast collection of 35mm prints. “I have the videos from Video Archives. They went out of business, and I bought their inventory. Probably close to eight thousand tapes and DVDs. I have a bunch of DVDs and a bunch of videos, and I still tape movies off of television on video so I can keep my collection going.” There are more morsels within the generous white space of Roston’s 153 pages. Read the rest of this entry »
By Ray Pride
“Thank you for the days, those endless days, those sacred days you gave me. I’m thinking of the days, I won’t forget a single day…” are words sung in an emotional crescendo near the end of “Until The End of the World,” a Kinks song sungalong in the middle of the night on the bottom of the planet at what a raft of characters believe is already of the end of civilization as they know it, as Wim Wenders and his co-writers Peter Carey and Solveig Dommartin anticipate. Read the rest of this entry »
Never lost, but seldom seen, Jacques Rivette’s “Out 1,” the justifiably legendary twelve-hour-fifty-five-minute epic of post-1968 Paris has been digitally restored, supervised by cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn. Previously seen only via a single 16mm print circulating to cinémathèques (including a Memorial Day weekend Siskel showing in 2006), it is now being shown around the country prior to a January 2016 Blu-ray release. Its extended form, divided into eight episodes, anticipates the phenomenon of “binge-watching” by decades, and that 2007 showing in the company of a raft of cinephiles old and young was a fantastic communal experience. Read the rest of this entry »
I first discovered Nathan Silver’s films via his 2008 Slamdance short, “Anecdote,” which, for a short of that era had exemplary sound design: My ears were dancing. I’ve also been delighted with the progressively more prolific output that’s followed. But his work hasn’t been exposed in Chicago, at least not until now. Fellow filmmaker (and Northwestern prof) Spencer Parsons has programmed a three-sneak of his compelling work, which I’ll write about at length about his intense, ragged psychological dramas when the films are more readily available. The three features are “Exit Elena” (2012), “Soft in the Head” (2013) and “Uncertain Terms” (2014). And there are at least two features coming right after that (“Stinking Heaven” is at CIFF; see below). Read the rest of this entry »
“Alice in the Cities.”
Through October and November, “Wim Wenders On The Road Again,” eleven digitally restored features and six shorts, including Wenders’ 295-minute directors’ cut of his 1992 worldwide walkabout, will be shown at Siskel. The peripatetic German filmmaker’s comprehensive retrospective begins with the wistful “Alice in the Cities” (October 2-3), the long-unavailable Peter Handke-scripted “The Goalie’s Anxiety At The Penalty Kick” (October 3, 7) and “Kings of the Road” (October 10, 14), the magisterial, melancholy odyssey of two projector repairmen along the border between East and West Germany. In the course of time, Wim Wenders’ movies have meant as much to me as the work of any other filmmaker. “The American Friend,” “Kings of the Road,” even “The State of Things” were so compelling to this young moviegoer. Laconic but cosmopolitan, dreamy yet tactile. Melancholy. Read the rest of this entry »
By Ray Pride
There’s no official number of how many film festivals there are in Chicago, or even a readily agreed-upon definition of how many films and events constitute a true “festival,” but in its thirty-third year, Reeling, the Chicago “LGBTQ+” International Film Festival, is definitely one of the most resilient (and the nation’s second oldest, after San Francisco’s Frameline).
“Film festivals not only continue to be relevant, despite the onslaught of choices for entertainment,” founder and executive director Brenda Webb tells me. “In some ways, they are more relevant than ever because of their curatorial role and promotional functions.”
An example of that is how small films that debut on Netflix (not heavily advertised and hyped series) never gain social traction, there’s little conversation in the larger culture, only cold, cryptic algorithms guessing what will satisfy every given view. Webb agrees. “There may be many more choices of films to see online and on television than ever before, but given the noise of overwhelming choices, audiences need to tune into which films to spend their time seeing.” Read the rest of this entry »
CinéVardaExpo: Agnès Varda in Chicago
Jennifer Reeder: During each of my three pregnancies, I considered naming the baby AGNES, as in Varda. Then I had three boys and opted for alternative ways to inject feminism and the history of radical filmmaking into their lives. As a young film student, I was exposed to plenty of French films and, as the only female in my cohort, I was frustrated with all the Godard and Truffaut and Resnais. I found Agnès Varda on my own. “Cléo from 5 to 7“ was a revelation. It’s an extraordinary portrait of an entire life in two hours—a woman’s life as told by another woman. The filmmaker is present. Varda has long been considered a remarkable and prolific filmmaker… and a wife and a mother and an artist and a feminist. Read the rest of this entry »
IFP/Chicago, one of the city’s oldest organizations to support independent filmmakers, has kept a low profile for several years, but is about to launch an ambitious roster of programs, inspired in part by the success of May’s Chicago Underground Film Festival, presently one of the Independent Filmmaker Project’s most prominent enterprises. Other support programs and networking events have grown up around the city since their founding, such as the long-running first-Tuesdays Midwest Film Festival and more recently, the new sip-and-grip comradeship CCCP, the Chicago Creatives Cocktail Party, which IFP co-sponsors.
After three years or so of dormancy, Nicole Bernardi-Reis, an independent producer and president of the board of directors (and 2014 Film 50 subject) sees now as a time for IFP to bloom. “The community changed a lot during that time, as did the resources available to filmmakers,” she says. “Currently, the film and television industry is seeing an influx of productions and revenue due to the Illinois Film Tax Credit. Hollywood is back in Chicago. Business is booming, again. Outside productions have always been an important part of sustaining the film community in the Midwest, but they are just a part.”
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The Russian Woodpecker
By Ray Pride
While it’s never been a more fertile time to produce innovative, powerful, even poetic documentaries, the marketplace is another matter. Even a movie that cost a few thousand dollars has to find a way into the distribution pipeline, gain a little awareness, to get the attention of just a few more eyeballs at a time, maybe recoup a fraction of its cash outlay. Netflix, HBO, fantastic festivals around the world: but what about on the big screen at a theater near you? Several distributors, notably Magnolia (“Life Itself,” “Iris,” “Muscle Shoals”) and Radius (“Citizenfour,” “The Great Invisible”) are combining theatrical and video-on-demand releases for their films, but there’s so much more for audiences to explore, with only a fraction of the nonfiction getting farther than the spreadsheets of programmers and the notebooks of festival critics.
Longtime film journalist (including a stint as founding film editor at Time Out Chicago) and Chicago International Film Festival programmer Anthony Kaufman returns to the Music Box with his curatorial fervor for a second round of “Docs at the Box” in June, presenting five films that represent “the full spectrum of current nonfiction filmmaking, from archival-driven and vérité to avant-garde” each Tuesday night. Read the rest of this entry »