The 36th Chicago Latino Film Festival goes virtual

The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago announced that the 36th Chicago Latino Film Festival will shift to a virtual format and will take place from September 18-27. The Festival was originally scheduled for April 16-30 at the AMC River East 21 Theatres, but was postponed on March 13th when Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered … Continue reading “The 36th Chicago Latino Film Festival goes virtual”

Chicago Latino Film Festival unveils 2020 poster

The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago (ILCC), producer of the Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF), is proud to announce Turkish artist and graphic designer Yağmur Genç as the winner of the 36th Chicago Latino Film Festival Poster Contest. The ILCC received 928 submissions for this year’s contest from Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Jamaica, Mexico, The … Continue reading “Chicago Latino Film Festival unveils 2020 poster”

The 35th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival

The two-week event launches on March 28 with Icían Bollaín’s “Yuli” followed by a “Noche Cubana” celebration The 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) will take place March 28-April 11 at the AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois St. and will feature over 100 feature-length and short films from Latin America, Spain, Portugal and … Continue reading “The 35th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival”

Latino works from all over the world highlight the 21st Chicago Latino Film Festival, April 8-20

The 21st Chicago Latino Film Festival will screen 58 feature films from 20 countries and 31 shorts from 13 countries at more than a dozen venues across the city and suburbs.

The Festival’s Opening Night Gala April 8 will be followed by Silvio Caiozzi’s Chilean art world drama “Cachimba.” Caiozzi and producer Guadalupe Bornand will appear. At Northwestern’s Thorne Auditorium, Chicago Ave. and Lake Shore Drive. 6 p.m. Screening and gala, $65, $50 for International Latino Cultural Center members. Screening only, $20, members $15.

Four Chicago features play in 23rd Annual Chicago Latino International Film Festival April 13-25

THE CHICAGO LATINO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL boasts four Chicago features among the lineup of 59 features and 31 shorts at its 23rd annual fest, April 13-25.

Jaime (“Dusk”) Mariscal’s second feature “Welcome Back To Barrio” follows a college kid (Ramses Jimenez) who returns to his old neighborhood and gets reeled into a gang conflict.

With Tony Ramirez, Carmen Cenko and Phil Camacho. David J. Miller of Mindlight Films produced and co-wrote with Mariscal. April 15 at 4 p.m. and April 17 at 10 p.m. at Facets Multi-Media, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave.

Two years in the works, Tapia’s Mexico/Chicago Super 16mm “Leti” bows at Latino Film Festival

Dalia Tapia has just returned from Mexico with the last of the footage for her Super 16mm feature “Buscando a Leti/In Search of Leti,” which has its world premiere this April at the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

“I’ve already been approached by a couple distributors, here and in Mexico,” said Tapia as she dove into final stages of postproduction.

“The market is there. The positive response I’ve been getting from people in both countries is what propels me forward.

Chicago-made film debuts
April 10 at Latino Festival

Gloricelly Martinez-Franceschi stars in “Urban Poet,” the Latino Film Festival’s only Chicago-made feature.

Annual Blue Whiskey Film Festival opens this weekend

The 11th Annual Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival (BWiFF) returns this weekend with nightly screenings of the festival’s 2021 official selection films running July 24-30 at Chicago Filmmakers (1326 W. Hollywood Avenue, Chicago). Blue Whiskey will present over 30 films with character-driven stories from around the globe during the in-person event, including seven outstanding indie films made … Continue reading “Annual Blue Whiskey Film Festival opens this weekend”

Chicago creatives bring home 15 Lions for their city

Chicago creatives are the recipients of 15 Cannes Lions International Festival Awards, including the Titanium Lion – the top creative award in the world for the “Boards of Change” work. In addition to the awarded Cannes Lions, the City of Chicago was recognized at The One Show 2021, receiving one Grand Prix, four gold, four … Continue reading “Chicago creatives bring home 15 Lions for their city”

37th Chicago Latino Film Audience Choice Award wins

The 37th Chicago Latino Film Festival announces the winners and runners-up for the Audience Choice Awards. The Audience Choice Award for Best Feature went to The Heist of the Century, Argentinian director Ariel Winograd’s heist comedy about the most famous and audacious bank robbery in Argentina’s history starring Guillermo Francella (The Secret in Their Eyes) … Continue reading “37th Chicago Latino Film Audience Choice Award wins”

Chicago Latino Film Fest adds Riera’s film Rita Moreno

The 37th Chicago Latino Film Festival, presented by Corona Extra, announced today its Centerpiece presentation of Mariem Pérez Riera’s Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It at ChiTown Movies Drive-In, 2343 S. Throop St. on Monday, April 12. The gates open at 6:00 pm with the film scheduled to start at 7:30 pm. A virtual screening of this no holds … Continue reading “Chicago Latino Film Fest adds Riera’s film Rita Moreno”

Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals program lineup

The Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals (CoSAFF), a first-of-its-kind event to bring together seven established South Asian film festivals from the US and Canada, announces its industry programming lineup. The virtual festival is scheduled for October 3-17, 2020, which is entirely free to view for all audiences. CoSAFF 2020 is powered by Vimeo’s OTT … Continue reading “Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals program lineup”

Chicago Latino Film Fest announces audience choice wins

The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago announced today the winners and runner-ups for the AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS of the 36th Chicago Latino Film Festival. The festival was held virtually from Sept. 18 to Sept. 27 in Chicago and throughout the State of Illinois. In total, the Festival presented 44 feature and 38 shorts. Even though CLFF is … Continue reading “Chicago Latino Film Fest announces audience choice wins”

LA Latino Film Fest, Netflix launch Latinx Fellowship

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) announced today the launch of LALIFF’s Inclusion Fellowship Series. This newly established program will focus on building a more inclusive and equitable industry for all members of the Latinx community. Each year, the fellowship will champion an underrepresented group from within the Latinx community. For its inaugural … Continue reading “LA Latino Film Fest, Netflix launch Latinx Fellowship”

Chicago Latino Film Fest announces lineup of films

Chicago Latino Film Festival announces their lineup for their 36th anniversary. The festival will shift to a virtual format and will take place from September 18-27. Since the beginning, the Chicago Latino Film Festival has consistently presented a significant number of features and short films that throw a spotlight on the continent’s diverse indigenous cultures. Until recently, most of … Continue reading “Chicago Latino Film Fest announces lineup of films”

City of Chicago awards $2m in CityArts Program grants

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced the recipients of the 2020 CityArts Program grants. This year, the CityArts Program is awarding general operating grants between $2,000 to $30,000 – and special project grants ranging from $2,500 to $56,200 – to 191 nonprofit organizations for a total … Continue reading “City of Chicago awards $2m in CityArts Program grants”

Black Harvest Film Festival accepting film submissions

Black Harvest Film Festival film submissions due September 1. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center will present its 26th annual Black Harvest Film Festival virtually from November 6 through November 30. Beginning Friday, November 6, this year’s  festival will offer an engaging, fully-online experience, featuring the Chicago premieres of … Continue reading “Black Harvest Film Festival accepting film submissions”

Midwest Film Festival resumes with a night at the drive-in

Come and enjoy an amazing line-up for Female Filmmaker Night. The ChiTown Drive-in opens at 7:00pm and the screening begins at 8:15pm, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. In partnership with Chi Town Movies and The Gene Siskel Film Center, the Midwest Film Festival announces that they are resuming their 2020 season programming with … Continue reading “Midwest Film Festival resumes with a night at the drive-in”

SEE UPDATE: the Chicago Latino Film Fest is postponed

Pepe Vargas, the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Latino Film Festival sadly announced the postponement of the 36th annual festival. Due to the concerns for the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the festival originally scheduled to open on April 16 through April 30 at AMC River East 21 Theatres, will be pushed to … Continue reading “SEE UPDATE: the Chicago Latino Film Fest is postponed”

Chicago Latino Film Fest launches streaming platform

CLFFMÁS will initially feature short films chosen from the last five years of the Festival, with more added every month The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago (ILCC), producer of the Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) among other events, announced today the launch of their streaming platform CLFFmás. Created in partnership with BTEC, an organization … Continue reading “Chicago Latino Film Fest launches streaming platform”

2019 Chicago Film Festival Symposium

Event will unite nearly 40 festivals to “better understand our collective work as an industry” The first-ever Chicago Film Festival Symposium will bring together Chicago-area film festival stakeholders for an industry-wide discussion addressing shared challenges and opportunities. Continental breakfast, lunch, and cocktail reception are included with the $20 registration fee. Learn more and register here. … Continue reading “2019 Chicago Film Festival Symposium”

Filmmaker Michael Lippert back with new documentary

40-minute doc about classic North Carolina theater had its premiere on April 6 Longtime Cutters editor and Chicago filmmaker Michael Lippert has debuted a new documentary, Reeves: a Home for Music, at RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Lippert, who made festival noise three years ago with Miriam is Going to Mars, focuses … Continue reading “Filmmaker Michael Lippert back with new documentary”

Female filmmakers wow crowd at Chicago Latino Fest

Women-directed films win audience choice best feature and best documentary for the second year in a row   Icíar Bollaín’s Yuli and Gretchen Hilebrand’s Decade of Fire honored as 2019 winners The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago announced today the winners and runner-ups of the 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival and for a second … Continue reading “Female filmmakers wow crowd at Chicago Latino Fest”

Haiti in focus at Chicago Latino Film Fest

Dominican “Broken Island” and Chilean “Petit Frère” represent Haiti and its role in Latino culture, cinema, and politics. Last weekend, the 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) screened a pair of films that focus on the Haitian experience, the Dominican Republic’s La isla rota (Broken Island) and the Chilean Petiè Frère. Reel Chicago sat down … Continue reading “Haiti in focus at Chicago Latino Film Fest”

‘La Isla Rota’ brings celebs to Latin Film Fest

“Captain Marvel’s” Algenis Pérez to appear with his film about youth, revenge, love, and a tragic era of Haitian history Algenis Pérez, who plays the character Att-lass in Captain Marvel, will attend the North American Premiere of his new film, La Isla Rota (Broken Island), at the Chicago Latino Film Festival on Saturday, March 30 … Continue reading “‘La Isla Rota’ brings celebs to Latin Film Fest”

Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema, March 12 – April 24

Consolidated series presents premieres, partner screenings, special guests and sixteen films, from across the Asian continent Non-profit pan-Asian film organization Sophia’s Choice today announces Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Eight, the spring film series presenting sixteen films from across Asia, running March 12 through April 24, 2019. The schedule represents a consolidated schedule, with more … Continue reading “Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema, March 12 – April 24”

Chicago Latino Film Fest unveils poster for 35th run

Rome-based Polish artist Michal Tadeusz Golanski’s design celebrates women’s contribution to the art form   The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago (ILCC), producer of the Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF), is proud to announce the winner of the 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival Poster Contest: Rome-based Polish graphic artist Michal Tadeusz Golanski. A graduate … Continue reading “Chicago Latino Film Fest unveils poster for 35th run”

The African Diaspora International Film Festival

The “most thought-provoking program to date in the Windy City” will light up Facets Cinematheque June 8-14, 2018   New York — 14 May 2018 To celebrate its 16th Anniversary in Chicago, the African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) — hosted by Facets Cinematheque and presented by ArtMattan Productionsts from June 8 to 14 — … Continue reading “The African Diaspora International Film Festival”

Millennium Park Summer Film Series

Beginning June 5th, the Millennium Park Summer Film series will enhance the Tuesday night screenings that have become one of Chicago’s most beloved outdoor traditions. According to a press release issued by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the movies will be “programmed in collaboration with a local independent film festival … Continue reading “Millennium Park Summer Film Series”

“Tigers Are Not Afraid” wins Latino audience choice

Stephen King calls the Del Toro-approved fairy tale directed by Issa López, “one terrific film, both tough and touching.” ”My name is Pedro” and “Cease Game” win for best documentary and best short     (Chicago — 25 April 25) – The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago announces the winners and runner-ups of the … Continue reading ““Tigers Are Not Afraid” wins Latino audience choice”

Chicago/Mexico’s “En Algun Lugar” reflects the times

The Chicago-based production company – Iconoclast Films – shot En Algun Lugar in Chicago and Mexico. It has already screened at eleven festivals and has taken home major awards such as Best Foreign Feature and Best Director at the London Independent Film Awards 2018, Best LGBTQ Feature and Best Producer (Aric Jackson) at the Oniros … Continue reading “Chicago/Mexico’s “En Algun Lugar” reflects the times”

Opening night excitement at Chicago Latino Film Fest

Opening night of the Chicago Latino Film Festival delivered every sight, sound, taste, and emotion that a cinematic soiree should. Beginning with the Chicago premiere of writer / director Raúl Marchand’s hilarious and nostalgic Broche de Oro: Comienzos, the evening showcased all the vibrancy and excitement that makes Latino culture such an excellent part of … Continue reading “Opening night excitement at Chicago Latino Film Fest”

“Murder in the Woods” at Chicago Latino Film Fest

Chicago’s Yelyna De Leon produced, acted in, and wrote the script for a teen slasher that will screen at the 34th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF). Titled Murder in the Woods, the English-language, U.S.-produced film was directed and produced by Mexican-born filmmaker Luis Iga.     A Latin American film Murder in the woods has … Continue reading ““Murder in the Woods” at Chicago Latino Film Fest”

Chi Latino Fest’s Vargas on cinema, culture, and the wall

Over the past five decades, Pepe Vargas has lived on two continents, fled a military dictatorship, earned a law degree, worked as a busboy, and founded the Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) and the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago (ILCC). Along the way, he not only learned to appreciate multiculturalism, art, and politics, but … Continue reading “Chi Latino Fest’s Vargas on cinema, culture, and the wall”

Latino film fest poster is an artistic breakthrough

The 34th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival poster is a testament to the universal power of art. Featuring a strip of film that runs like a sidewalk through a broken wall in a mountainous desert, the poster’s fresco style illustration communicates the same message that the event has made obvious for decades: Latin culture rocks. … Continue reading “Latino film fest poster is an artistic breakthrough”

Panavision now set up in big, new Chicago facility

PANAVISION CAMERAS, which returned to Chicago after a 14-year absence last October, has completed its move into a 13,000-sq. ft. facility a block-long building at 1544 W. Carroll.

The company currently has six staffers and general manager Sharon Walker says they are in the process of hiring new employees. It supplied cameras to Fox’ upcoming “ABP” series that will premiere Feb. 6, “Exorcist” and has jobs ahead on a studio feature and commercials.

Chicago cop series shoots in Toronto

ANOTHER TV SERIES is set in Chicago but, like Shameless, The Good Wife and Mike and Molly, is not being filmed in Chicago. The location is Toronto, which all too often substitutes for our town. 
The family/cop drama, a genre beloved by TV networks and cable, follows policewoman Abby Kowalski (Rachael Carpani) who causes a rift with her three cop brothers when she decides to join the department’s Internal Affairs.  It also stars Treat Williams and Kathy Baker.  Universal Cable Productions is producing.

Advertise with REEL CHICAGO

Reel Chicago and national spinoff, Reel 360, are the trusted sources for news, information, industry trends, new campaigns, and the people behind the scenes in advertising, film, TV, music, digital, social and entertainment since 2004.  Speak Directly to Industry Influencers and Potential Clients! Our audience includes: Agencies: Ad Agency Chief Creative Officers, Creative Directors, Heads … Continue reading “Advertise with REEL CHICAGO”

Christy LeMaster new director of IFP/Chicago

TAKING OVER THE REINS of the Independent Feature Project, Chicago’s 25-year old hub of indie filmmaking is Christy LeMaster, who has run IFP’s recent and successful fund-raising galas. She succeeds Ryan Jewell, who returned to his native Oklahoma City for family reasons.

LeMaster, who has a Masters in English from Truman State University, has a background in programming film festivals, starting with the True or False doc fest in Columbia, Mo.

Latino filmmakers’ work airs on Comcast

The International Latino Cultural Center, which produces the Chicago Latino Film Festival, has partnered with Comcast to launch the Chicago Latino Filmmaker Program.

Last Friday, Comcast on Demand began carrying four-to-five-minute sample reels from six local filmmakers, all of them veterans of the festival and chosen by a selection committee of ILCC staff and board members.

Chicagoans tapped for Latino Producers Academy

EDUARDO LETAMENDI AND ARMANDO HERNANDEZ are two of the 12 feature filmmaking fellows attending the 2010 NALIP Latino Producers Academy in Santa Fe, New Mexico through Aug. 20.

Letamendi and Herndandez are co-writers of the family comedy “4 Days Until Christmas,” about a clan road tripping from Chicago to Mexico to see their ailing patriarch for the holidays.

Letamendi is attending the Academy as director, and Hernandez is attending as producer. NALIP provides mentors, SAG cast and crew to shoot scenes from the screenplay during the Academy.

“Immigrant Nation” nabs choice Latino Fest prize

ESA? MEL?NDEZ’ TIMELY DOC, “Immigrant Nation!?The Battle for the Dream” won the audience choice award for best documentary at the Chicago Latino Film Festival, which concluded last Friday.

“Immigrant Nation!” follows the movement for immigration reform set off by federal anti-immigrant legislation in 2006, and activist Elvira Arellano’s internationally famous defiance of a deportation order.

“Immigrant Nation!” screens at Latino Fest

An audience of more than 35,000 is expected to attend the 16th Chicago Latino International Film Festival, April 16-29, called “the largest, oldest and best Latino film festival in the country.”

Seven locally made films are among only 16 U.S. selections out of the 100 films culled from in an array of genres reflecting the diversity of Latino culture in Latin America, Portugal, Spain and the U.S.

They include an immigration documentary, and noir thriller, a pair of short gang dramas, and a pair of short docs on Chicago’s Latino community.

U.S. biggest International Latino Film Fest April 4-17 screens 10 “Made in Chicago” docs and shorts

An estimated audience of 30,000 is expected to attend the 24th International Latino Film Festival, April 4-16 ? the nation’s largest cultural event, says founder Pepe Vargas.

Opening night spotlights the Spanish film, “El Prado de las Estrella” (“The Field of Stars”), at the AMC River East 21 Theaters, followed by a party at the River East Art Center.

Story of Chicago’s lengendary Chess Records to film here, starring Matt Dillon and Jeffrey Wright

ACTOR MATT DILLON will portray Leonard Chess, the legendary founder of the South Side Chicago blues label Chess Records, in Sony/BMG Film’s “Cadillac Records.”

Written and directed by Darnell Martin (“Prison Song”), filming of the 1950’s story is set to begin in January in New Jersey and Chicago. Jeffrey Wright also stars.

Chess, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, scoured the South, checking out the various blues scenes and selling records from the back of his Cadillac.

Jaime Mariscal’s “Welcome Back to the Barrio” wins Chicago Latino Fest’s “Made in Chicago”

Director Jaime Mariscal’s first feature, “Welcome Back to the Barrio,” won the Best Chicago Made film in the just-ended Latino Film Festival.

The story is about college student, Christian, who returns home to the “barrio” to visit his family. But when he reunites with his childhood friend, Angel, the two embark on a night of fun that will change their lives.

Mariscal wrote the screenplay with David J.

Events being planned by new Chicago chapter of indie producers group to expand Latinos in film

A dozen Latino filmmakers have set out to make Chicago a better place for their fellow Latinos to make movies.

Juan J. Lopez and his colleagues have launched the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP).

Founded in 1999 and boasting chapters in 11 cities, NALIP is dedicated to supporting Latinos working throughout the film industry.

Vargas Goldberg’s drama “Bloom” is one of nine projects to receive Women in Film finishing funds

The Women in Film Foundation has given writer-producer Rosie Vargas Goldberg the final push to complete her debut feature “Bloom.”

The foundation chose “Bloom,” formerly known as “Hopeless,” as one of nine projects nationwide to receive a Film Finishing Fund grant, an undisclosed amount paid for by General Motors.

Vargas Goldberg said the grant will cover the final HD master, DigiBeta screening tapes and festival submissions.

“It certainly helps,” she said. “The Women in Film Foundation thinks I’m doing something good.

Juan Frausto’s HD immigration feature, shot in Florida-for-Mexico debuts at Latino Film Fest

Juan Frausto’s fourth feature, the immigration drama “La Migra,” has its world premiere April 8 at the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

“La Migra” (Mexican slang for the Border Patrol) will be released on DVD this year from urban specialty distributor Maverick Entertainment of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Maverick hired Frausto to direct “La Migra” after it picked up his gang actioner “Once Upon a Time in the Hood,” which screened at last year’s Chicago Latino Film Fest. Maverick released the picture on video July 7.

Four local directors’ features to screen at Latino Film Fest; Frausto, Islas’ are world premieres

Four films by Chicago directors are among the 58 features from 20 countries presented at the 21st Chicago Latino Film Festival April 9-21 at more than a dozen venue across the city and suburbs.

Juan Frausto’s “La Migra” and Ricardo Islas “Para Matar a un Asensino” are world premieres.

Returning after successful festival runs are Marisol Torres’ “Boricua” and Alex LeMay’s “The Bulls of Suburbia.”

For “Para Matar a un Asesino” Islas, like Frausto, brought Mexican screen stars to the U.S. for his production.

Taproot’s bullfight doc attracts broadcasters at Santa Fe festival; will play Chicago Latino

Taproot Productions’ bullfighting documentary “The Bulls of Suburbia” has charged its way through the festival circuit this year, drawing broadcaster interest at the Santa Fe Film Festival, where the film was nominated for best documentary.

“A cable broadcast entity was very interested,” said director Alex LeMay. “Hopefully we’re going to see this thing televised.”

Major star power lights up Chicago theatres; Schwimmer back in 2005 with LaBute play

Chicago’s three Tony Award winning theatre companies are ramping up the star power for the opening shows of the season. The smallest of the three troupes, Victory Gardens, offers a Sept. 20-Oct. 24 run of a new comedy, “The Family Gold,” by Annie Reiner, daughter of Carl and sister of Rob. She ought to know what’s funny. Stage, film and TV veteran Harold Gould stars.

A few blocks away, Steppenwolf Theatre Company offers John Mahoney (himself a Tony Award winner) and actor/author Tracy Letts (“Killer Joe”) in Ronald Harwood’s “The Dresser,” Sept. 25-Nov. 14.

Independent film production update

“RUNAWAY DIVAS,” Monika Szewerniak and Aleksandra Hodowany’s locally made feature-length modeling industry satire has its world premiere Friday, July 30-Aug. 5 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Szewerniak and Hodowany will attend the July 30-31 and Aug. 1 screenings along with DP/co-producer Christopher Collins and other cast and crew. Screenings are 8 p.m. July 30, Aug. 3 and 5, 7:30 p.m. July 31, 3:15 p.m. Aug. 1, 6 p.m. Aug. 2, and 6:15 p.m. Aug. 4.

Producers set high school film contest to encourage creativity

Producer Rogelio Gazga’s SPI-TV Media and Andres Lombana’s Mas Communications have launched a high school film production contest to encourage kids, especially minorities, to “get their creative juices flowing,” Gazga said.

The program, called “From Pitch-to-Screen: A DV Film and Screenwriting Competition,” was initiated with the cooperation of the Chicago Board of Education at 10 Chicago high schools with TV studios on campus. Next year, said Gazga, “Pitch-to-Screen” will become part of a school-wide Education to Careers Program that exposes students to various career opportunities.

Government staffers largest group among film Task Force appointees

The highly touted Task Force for the film industry that DCEO director Jack Lavin assured would help lead filmmaking to new heights has been named. As a matter of fact, two weekly meetings at the State of Illinois building have already been held and committees formed.

It’s difficult, however, to determine the rationale for the appointment of some of the 22-members of the Task Force. While each has expertise in his own field ? few can top the credentials of AFL-CIO president Margaret Blackshere, for instance ?

Ambassador Entertainment, filmmaker Ruiz shoot non-stereotypical Latino indie this month

Rob Ruiz (right) and Hafez Ali Muhammad (left) are producing the feature film “Gigs” in Humboldt Park and Puerto Rico starting this June.

Pilsen filmmaker prepping HD feature for production in Mexico and Chicago

Dalia Tapia (center) and her crew will shoot the HD feature “Princesa Tarazca” in Mexico and Chicago starting this August.

Iranian film bows at Film Center

Hossein Khandan’s film “Chrysalis” plays at the Film Center’s Films of the Iranian Diaspora.

Iranian film bows at Film Center

Hossein Khandan’s film “Chrysalis” plays at the Film Center’s Films of the Iranian Diaspora.

Update: Indie production, premieres

David Miller of Mindlight Films, who runs the Sangamon St. Studios in the former Orbis facility, is producing “Finding Preet,” an HD romantic comedy feature, for IV Entertainment. Production started May 6. DP is Joseph Farris of Visions of Light. Miller produced Juan Frausto’s “Once Upon a Time in the Hood,” which was lauded at the Chicago Latino Film Festival and is due for release from Breakaway Films/Maverick Entertainment and HBO Latino. Reach Miller at 773/ 562-3731.

A sneak peek at Billy Dec’s ‘Food. Roots. Philippines.’

Chicago’s award-winning restaurateur and media personality films a quest for family and food in Southeast Asia Billy Dec’s Food. Roots. Philippines. explores an ancient recipe for success on the other side of the world. Currently in post-production, the PBS project is a journey into the country, culture, and cuisine of his ancestors. The Southeast Asian … Continue reading “A sneak peek at Billy Dec’s ‘Food. Roots. Philippines.’”

CLFF launches April 5 with “Night of Puerto Rico”

The Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) will launch its 34th annual celebration with a “Night of Puerto Rico” gala on Thursday, April 5. The event begins with a pair of highly anticipated film premieres at AMC River East and continues with a cocktail reception at nearby Chez, 247 E. Ontario. Raúl Marchand Sánchez’s new comedy, … Continue reading “CLFF launches April 5 with “Night of Puerto Rico””

Social Media Pays Tribute to Ruth Ratny

Tributes poured in on Reel Chicago’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as other social media pages, as word spread around the city that they had lost their beloved film and advertising herald.

From advertising creatives to production companies to post houses, Ruth Ratny’s articles touched the lives of many and will forever hold meaning for them.


These are a few:

John Mahoney to honor Kelsey Grammer at Hugos

AN ADDED SPECIAL TREAT for Hugo Awards attendees.  John Mahoney will be on hand to honor his “Frasier” co-star Kelsey Grammer at the Hugo awards ceremony Thursday, April 19 at the new Chicago Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus Drive. 

Mahoney, an Oak Park resident, and Grammer, star of Starz series “Boss,” played Dr. Martin Crane, father of Dr. Frasier Crane in the comedy series that ran a record-breaking 11 years on NBC. Tickets are $100 and may be purchased at or by calling 312/683-0121.

Roger Ebert officially announces his new TV show

TIMING IS EVERYTHING, they say, and Roger Ebert’s new movie review show comes on the scene coincidentally as the last vestiges of Disney’s “At the Movies” syndicated review show fade to black after nearly 25 years on television.

In his blog, printed in Friday’s Sun-Times, Ebert tells about his new movie review show, “Roger Ebert presents At the Movies,” that he and his wife, Chaz, are producing.

More than just a TV show, it will have total new media distribution: net streaming, cell phone apps, Facebook, Twitter, etc., he says.

$10,000 check for Malachi Leopold’s Sudan doc

MALACHI LEOPOLD IS BOUND FOR THE SUDAN, thanks to a $10,000 grant he received in order to make the expenses of the trip. He departs April 5 for a full month of shooting a documentary centered on one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who returns to his native village after a 22 year separation from his parents.

Leopold received the $10,000 check April 1 from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees based in Geneva, Switzerland.

He will be accompanied by DP Ian Issitt and two New York producers.

Independent Production Roundup

USAMA ALSHAIBI’S in-progress documentary “Nice Bombs,” about returning to his native Baghdad during the U.S. occupation, has been selected as one of 29 projects to participate in the Tribeca All Access Connects program, a showcase for emerging filmmakers. It runs concurrently with the Tribeca Film Festival, April 19-May 1.

“Nice Bombs” will compete with seven other docs for a $10,000 Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award. Alshaibi’s wife Kristie Alshaibi is producing “Nice Bombs” through their Artvamp LLC, along with Ben Berkowitz and Ben Redgrave of Benzfilm Group.

Rising local director’s

Juan Frausto finally has his foot in the Hollywood door. His third film, “Once Upon a Time in the Hood,” plays in the 20th Annual Chicago Latino International Film Festival. The picture is due out on video from Maverick Entertainment and Breakaway Films this July, and is slated for a run on HBO Latino early next year.

“This movie will open doors for me, and for Latinos,” Frausto said. “It shows the we can do really good movies with low budgets and still get distribution. We’re just now capturing the market.

Free Spirit Media celebrates 20 years of Media Magic

On Thursday, May 20, Free Spirit Media celebrates 20 years of media magic, 8,000+ participants, 50,000+ unique pieces, and 1,000,000+ views. This momentous occasion demarcates how its participants have used media to create the world they envision-past, present, and future.  Free Spirit Media, a North Lawndale based, Emmy award winning nonprofit and social enterprise has … Continue reading “Free Spirit Media celebrates 20 years of Media Magic”

Jazz Kitchen: When Justice is the Message, November 18

It hardly seems possible to imagine social justice advocacy without music and art. Creating at the intersection of artistic practice and social justice is an essential impulse for many artists. Whether overt or embedded in the very impulse to create (or both), the role of artists/creatives in advancing justice is fundamental to the history of social … Continue reading “Jazz Kitchen: When Justice is the Message, November 18”

CIFF announces Gardner as keynote speaker

The Chicago International Film Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago, has announced this year’s Industry Keynote conversation with Academy Award-winning producer and president of Plan B Entertainment Dede Gardner. Her credits include 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight. Both presented at past editions of the Festival. Additionally, Industry Days will host master classes with Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter … Continue reading “CIFF announces Gardner as keynote speaker”

Mayor appoints new DCASE advisory council members

Chicago City Council today approved the appointments made by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot to the Cultural Advisory Council of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), including Council Chair Amina J. Dickerson and Vice Chair Alison Cuddy. “A robust Chicago arts community inspires us, engages us, questions the status quo, and has the … Continue reading “Mayor appoints new DCASE advisory council members”

Erica Duffy is MIFF’s new executive director

The Midwest Independent Film Festival, which has been in somewhat of an identity makeover since Mike McNamara stepped down from the role of executive director in 2017, is placing its bets on Camera Ambassador’s managing partner Erica Duffy to right the ship. The nonprofit organization has been a staple of Chicago’s independent film community since … Continue reading “Erica Duffy is MIFF’s new executive director”

Chi native produces immigration stories in ‘#WeLAGente’

When you attend the 15th annual Oscar-qualifying Hollyshorts, you never know what treasure you will stumble upon. Make no mistake, whatever the block, it will be a thought-provoking treat. Daniel Sol, Nicole Castro and the other programmers, really do take the time to curate a special 10-day festival.     Such is the case with … Continue reading “Chi native produces immigration stories in ‘#WeLAGente’”

Milos Stehlik, 1949-2019

Windy City film legend founded Facets Chicago, “a temple of great cinema” Chicago film legend Milos Stehlik passed at his home in Lincoln Park on Saturday, July 6. The 70-year-old founder of Facets Chicago died after a six-month battle with lung cancer. Besides founding the internationally celebrated cultural institution, Stehlik was also a frequent guest … Continue reading “Milos Stehlik, 1949-2019”

The Reel Black List: Ytasha Womack, creative powerhouse

Ytasha L. Womack is an award-winning producer, director, author, and innovator. She is author of the critically acclaimed books Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi & Fantasy Culture, Rayla 2212, Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity; and co-edited Beats Rhymes and Life: What We Love and Hate About Hip … Continue reading “The Reel Black List: Ytasha Womack, creative powerhouse”

‘Groundhog Day for a Black Man’ wows fest crowd

With more than 4,200 submissions, the 12th annual NBCUniversal Short Film Festival announced the winners from a group of nine finalists during the grand finale gala at the Director’s Guild in Los Angeles. The competition, which occurred Wednesday night, was stiff as the nine short films and web series presented were amazingly crafted and thoughtful … Continue reading “‘Groundhog Day for a Black Man’ wows fest crowd”

Timely ‘God particle’ doc screens July 16 at Landmark

BEFORE SCIENTISTS at the CERN particle accelerator outside Geneva, Switzerland apparently discovered the long-sought Higgs Boson or “God Particle” earlier this month, 137 Films captured the ill-fated hunt by physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator outside Geneva, Illinois.

Filmmakers Monica Long Ross and Clayton Brown copresent a screening of their 2008 documentary The Atom Smashers with the Illinois Science Council July 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Landmark Century Centre, 2828 N. Clark St.

“Playboy” pilot shoot starts in mid-March

“PLAYBOY,” THE NBC PILOT, about the start of the Playboy Clubs in Chicago, about the opening of the first Playboy Club in Chicago in 1963 (at the site of what is now the 100 E. Walton St. building) will shoot here for 13 days starting in mid-March, reports Local 476’s Mark Hogan.

Starring as iconic Playboy bunnies are Laura Benanti (“Eli Stone”) an established Playboy Club star who knows her days as a Bunny are numbered, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Towers promotes Schmiedeler to top position

MIKE SCHMIEDELER, an 11-year Towers Productions’ veteran, was promoted to VP/development and executive producer, from managing director.

Earlier, he’d been Towers’ VP/production overseeing the production of specials and series for A&E, History, Discovery and the many other cable channels for which Towers provides original programming.

In his new role, he will be responsible for program origination and editorial oversight.

Grossman & Jack settles into new offices

GROSSMAN & JACK TALENT, the popular agency owned by veteran agents Mickey Grossman and Linda Jack, are now settled into their more comfortably configured new offices at 33 W. Grand.

The company moved over the July 4th weekend, after 17-years at 230 E. Ohio to 5,000 sq. ft. offices accommodates the talent agency (Grossman for on-camera and Jack for voiceovers), G&J Models, lifestyle models for print, and Agency Galetea for fashion and runway.

“Shakey” signs stars Guttenberg, D’Angelo

KEVIN COOPER’S 3D dog comedy, “Shakey,” which starts shooting this month in the western suburbs, signed lead actors Steve Guttenberg (“Police Academy”), Beverly D’Angelo of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series) and Alfonso Arau (“The Three Amigos”).

Cooper, a Hollywood executive turned Columbia College professor, makes his directorial debut with “Shakey,” which is possibly the first comedy to shoot anywhere in stereoscopic 3D.

WIFC’s Focus Award honors Merri Dee

WOMEN IN FILM has made a righteous choice to honor broadcast trailblazer, talk show host, news anchor and community activist Merri Dee as its 2010 Focus Award honoree.

Dee has parlayed her celebrity into many children’s and educational charitable works. She spearheaded Illinois’ victims rights’ legislation after she and one of her talk show guests had been kidnapped, driven to a wooded area, shot twice in the head and left for dead, in 1971.

After retiring from WGN-TV in 2008 after 30 years, Dee formed full-service MD Communications.

Optimus plays a part in Pitchfork Music Fest

ONE AT OPTIMUS for the fourth year is the official partner of the Pitchfork Music Festival, showcasing more than 40 of the best independent bands and artists at Union Park July 16-18.

Optimus’ audio engineer Joel Anderson leads the Optimus team in coordinating, shooting and producing live video feeds of the performances and crowds. The content will be projected on jumbotrons and streamed live on Pitchfork’s website.

All live audio is being handled by CRC’s American Mobile, headed by CRC general manager Chris Shepard.

Burnett’s Jeff Brecker moves to Digital Kitchen

DIGITAL KITCHEN’S EXPANSION into all things digital started with the hiring of interactive heavy-hitter Jeff Brecker for the newly created position of executive producer/general manager. He starts June 21.

Brecker has been on the internet side of advertising since he entered the adbiz in 1996, after graduating from UW-Madison. He moved to Digital Kitchen from three years at Leo Burnett, where he’d been SVP/creative director.

NBC/Universal’s lobbying to include to TV talk shows delays passage of incentives till April

THE GOOD NEWS is that the Illinois Filmmakers Tax Credit has actually, finally, honestly passed the state Senate!! Now it’s due to go back to the House for final passage, long past the times this year when enactment was expected.

The bill goes back to the House for final approval — but House is taking a two-week Easter hiatus, which pushes the final enactment into April, the second quarter of the year.

Passage had been stalled by NBC/Universal, producers of the Jerry Springer show, which heavily lobbied Sen.

Frausto’s hip-hop vampire comedy “Get Pony Boy” theatrical premiere June 8 at Portage Theatre

JUAN FRAUSTO’S hip-hop vampire comedy “Get Pony Boy” has its theatrical premiere June 8 at the Historic Portage Theatre, after debuting in April at the Chicago Latino International Film Festival.

Rapper Rafael “Ponyboy” Ochoa of Los Marijuanos stars in the “hip-hop vampire comedy” as a former gang member who returns home from prison to find his old friends disappearing.

Featuring Manuel “Skribe” Garcia of Kinto Soul, Siboney Lo, Zandra Rivera and Rosa Isela Frausto. Writer/director/editor Frausto (“La Migra”) produced with Thomas A. Juarez through Vendetta Pictures.

Tapia closing on distribution deal for feature “Buscando a Leti,” developing her followup

DALIA TAPIA is weeks away from closing a deal for domestic DVD distribution of her debut feature “Buscando a Leti” (“In Search of Leti”).

A Pilsen school teacher and alum of the Columbia College MFA film program, Tapia shot “In Search of Leti” in Chicago and Mexico in 2004.

The Spanish-language film tells the story of a ten-year-old girl (local Tatiana Marie Tien) left behind when her parents immigrate to Chicago, then finally brought across the border to join them.

Independent Production Roundup

RICARDO ISLAS of Alpha Studios has two features in local fests this April. His 2003 16mm bilingual thriller “Para Matar a un Asesino/To Kill a Killer” will show in the Chicago International Latino Film Festival.

Financed by star Salom?n Carmona, the film was shot simultaneously in Spanish and English to maximize market potential in Latin America and the U.S.

Also starring Jorge Reynoso, Hugo Stiglitz, and Lyndsey Jim?nez. Diana Romero produced. Joe Passarelli shot.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes

FAVORITE SON Steve Poster did double duty when he was in town last week. The American Society of Cinematographers president received the Professional Achievement Award from IIT/Institute of Design, and to lens the pilot for director Betty Thomas, another former Chicagoan. Look for Poster’s next film early next year: “Mrs. Harris,” starring Annette Bening and Sir Ben Kingsley,

JOHN RAUSCH is Draft’s new VP/CD, coming from DDB as VP/CD working on Anheuser Busch, Discover Card and FTD. He started his copywriter career at Keroff & Rosenberg.

Independent Production Roundup

CRAIG JAMES PIETROWIAK of Squid Brothers and Scott Preston of American Stonehenge Films are joining forces to co-produce two back-to-back HD features next year.

First up in spring is Pietrowiak’s under-$75,000 “Wrigleyville,” a coming-of-age ensemble drama that he’s been developing as a TV pilot. He plans both feature-length and hour-long cuts, “to maximize exposure.” Financing is from retired People’s Gas employee, E.P. Patrick Hogan.

Marisol Torres’ semi-autobiographical feature has local debut Oct. 9 at CIFF

After garnering a strong response at the Tribeca, UrbanWorld and New York Latino International film festivals, Marisol Torres’ debut feature “Boricua” has its first hometown screening Oct. 9 at the Chicago International Film Festival.

“The response has been phenomenal,” said Torres, who teaches film and video at Columbia College. “It’s a film that inspires conversation.”

Tribeca screening for local indie

A Chicago-made indie film screened at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival last week. “Boricua,” a story about a diverse array of characters living in Humboldt Park and centered around the Puerto Rican Day parade, was produced by Samantha Sanders and written and directed by Marisol Torres. Both teach film at Columbia College.

“We finished the film only days before the festival,” said Sanders.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 1/16/04

HIGH POWERED COO TO DK. New COO at Digital Kitchen is Bruce Hanson, formerly in sales and business development at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and considered a very visible high-tech expert. Hanson will be responsible for the business side of this very creative company, in charge of financial, accounting, legal, marketing and strategic alliances.

Up and Down the Avenue

Nicholas Paul heads the Chicago office of FCB’s new 361 Degrees Sports & Event Marketing division. A staff of ultimately 12 will work on sports and sponsorship marketing, event and hospitality services. Paul formerly headed KemperLesnik Sports Marketing.

Film & Tape Works added Mark Johnson as Smoke and online editor, formerly of Swell for 7 years. Another Swell departure was audio engineer Steve Wilke.

Gov. Blagojevich and IFO director Brenda Sexton took a meeting last week in L.A.

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