Could Sundance be heading to Chicago in 2021?

The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating to business, especially hitting the film and TV industries. The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will now adjust to the pandemic by holding its 40-year-old event not just in Park City, but also in at least 20 different cities across the country, as well as in an online format. … Continue reading “Could Sundance be heading to Chicago in 2021?”

Mott Hupfel takes ‘The Last Shift’ to Sundance

Mott Hupfel is a cinematographer known for his work on The Savages, The American Astronaut, The Cobbler, and You. When researching the Sony VENICE for an upcoming project, he discovered the camera’s Sensor Extension System, also known as Rialto. Recently, he talked to Albelcine about his latest project, The Last Shift which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and … Continue reading “Mott Hupfel takes ‘The Last Shift’ to Sundance”

Sundance picks 12 Filmmakers for Screenwriters Intensive

Twelve screenwriters have been selected to participate in Sundance Institute’s eighth annual Screenwriters Intensive in Los Angeles, to take place March 4-5, 2020. One of the students selected is Chicagoan, Jason Park. The Intensive, a two-day workshop for select emerging writers and writer/directors from underrepresented communities, focuses on the development of first fiction features. Fellows … Continue reading “Sundance picks 12 Filmmakers for Screenwriters Intensive”

At Sundance w/Kartemquin’s Steve James & Zak Piper

Reel Chicago correspondent, reporter, and film critic Pamela Powell interviews Kartemquin Films’ Oscar-nominated director Steve James and Emmy Award-winning producer Zak Piper at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Chicago-based documentarian Steve James presented his newest endeavor, a four-episode mini series City So Real, to the Sundance Film Festival patrons just days ago in the quaint … Continue reading “At Sundance w/Kartemquin’s Steve James & Zak Piper”

Eight indie projects aim to spark change at Sundance

The Sundance Institute, in collaboration with global philanthropic organization Luminate, today announced six new projects supported by the Sundance Institute | Luminate Fund. The Sundance Institute | Luminate Fund provides non-recoupable grants to independent artists working across documentary, narrative, episodic and emerging media whose work display a strong potential for social and cultural impact. Joining … Continue reading “Eight indie projects aim to spark change at Sundance”

Chicago-made x-ray spider mutant creeps into Sundance

Chicago Filmmaker Brian Andrews’ new film, Hominidæ, about an x-ray spider mutant, will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24th at 8:00 p.m. at The Box at The Ray. A CG-animated virtual reality film, Hominidæ depicts an ecosystem of x-ray visibility. It features creatures that have evolved in surprising ways, … Continue reading “Chicago-made x-ray spider mutant creeps into Sundance”

Kartemquin’s ‘City So Real’ to premiere at Sundance

Kartemquin Film’s City So Real, the newest project by two-time Academy Award-nominated director Steve James, will make its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, running January 23-February 2. The four-hour miniseries is a mosaic portrait of current-day Chicago that delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of America’s third-largest city, set against … Continue reading “Kartemquin’s ‘City So Real’ to premiere at Sundance”

Ebert sends Black female storytellers to Sundance

Tiffany Walden, Niani Scott, and Whitney Spencer navigate the fast-paced, deadline-driven world of film review Three Chicago-based African American women storytellers with experience in documentary film, multimedia journalism and cultural research are attending the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Jan. 24 – Feb. 2 on a coveted Roger Ebert Fellowship, Rogerebert.com announced Tuesday. The workshop, established … Continue reading “Ebert sends Black female storytellers to Sundance”

Tessa Films’ “Work In Progress” to screen at Sundance

Chicago-made pilot is one of four “highly original series-kickoff episodes” that will be featured during the festival’s Indie Episodic Program Tessa Films’ Work In Progress is scheduled to screen during the Indie Episodic Program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. A series pilot directed by Tim Mason and starring Abby McEnany, the plot follows the … Continue reading “Tessa Films’ “Work In Progress” to screen at Sundance”

Kartemquin to screen two new projects at Sundance

Two new projects by Chicago documentary powerhouse Kartemquin will premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in January. Minding the Gap Minding the Gap is the story of a revelation that occurs when director Bing Liu reconnects with two childhood friends in his hometown of Rockford, IL. Recounting their less than ideal upbringings in a … Continue reading “Kartemquin to screen two new projects at Sundance”

Sundance to showcase “Trophy,” Chicago-funded doc

SCREENING AT SUNDANCE (Jan, 19-29) will be the 28-minute doc, “Trophy,” that was funded by the Chicago equity firm of CMP Invest / Impact, that invests in documentaries that are aimed at helping to bring about social change.

“Trophy,” from filmmakers Shaul Schwartz and Christina Clusiau, investigates controversial, multi-billion dollar big game industry and the complex consequences of imposing economic value on animals.

Sundance selects two Chicago films for screening

Chicago earns its close-up at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, with premieres of the feature “Southside with You,” about Michelle and Barack Obama’s first date and Media Process Group’s documentary on Maya Angelou, screening during the Jan. 21-31 festival in Park City Utah. 

Sexton’s Sundance soirees promote Mexican filmmaking

Sundance wouldn’t be the same without a party hosted by Brenda Sexton, who started the tradition of showcasing Illinois at parties in LA and Sundance beginning back in 2005 when she headed the Illinois Film Office.

Her annual Sweet Home Illinois affairs gave the state a glitzier cachet with a hometown flavor, as it brought together Chicagoans from home and Hollywood, where they had achieved status in the motion picture industry.

Kartemquin rewards staffers with a week at Sundance

Among the attendees at the Sundance Film Festival, the mother of all independent film festivals, Jan. 16-26 in Park City, Utah will be 10 lucky Kartemquin staffers.  Their hard work last year is being rewarded by an all-expense-paid, 5 day trip to Sundance.

“We’ll have some fun before the busiest year in our 48 year history kicks in,” reports Tim Horsburgh, Kartemquin director of communications and programs. Horsburgh, however, won’t have much time for that promised fun, as he will be handling details for the screening of two Kartemquin docs, starting Sunday, Jan. 19.

Playwright Saracho wins Sundance Theatre Lab slot

IT’S PROBABLY SAFE TO SAY that Mexican-born, Chicago-based playwright Tanya Saracho has emerged. She adds another impressive notch to her professional belt by being selected as a member of the 2012 Theatre Lab at Sundance Institute.

Saracho is in residence through July working on her play Song for the Disappeared, directed by Octavio Solis. It continues the theme of crime cartels in Mexico introduced in El Nogalar and is the second piece in her planned “Border Trilogy.”

Sundance premiere for 3 Michigan-shot features

Three Michigan-shot features premiere this week at Sundance: “Another Happy Day,” a drama starring Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore and Kate Bosworth; the comedies “Cedar Rapids,” starring Sigourney Weaver, Ed Helms and John C. Reilly and “Salvation Boulevard,” with stars Jennifer Connelly, Pierce Brosnan and Ed Harris.

These films generated some $16.8 million and created about 480 Michigan jobs, says MFO director Carrier Jones.

Swanberg lands his first Sundance premiere

Chicago indie film star Joe Swanberg should have a sense of satisfaction about his latest feature, “Uncle Kent,” since it is the first and only one of his six films to premiere at Sundance, in its Spotlight section. The festival runs Jan. 20-30.

Ironically, Sundance rejected two of Swanberg’s earlier films although five of his films in a row opened at South by Southwest.

Nevertheless, “Uncle Kent,” will be Swanberg’s fourth IFC Films’ release; air dates will be announced later this month.

Sundance premiere for Steve James’ latest doc

STEVE JAMES’ “THE INTERRUPTERS” is his fifth film to screen at Sundance and this time also has the distinction of being part of Sundance’s new Documentary Premiere category for “master filmmakers debuting their new docs about big subjects.”

“The Interrupters” is James’ sixth doc to be produced with Kartemquin Films, which kicks off a yearlong celebration of its 45th anniversary at Sundance.

Sundance parties welcome Chicagoans

CHICAGOANS AT SUNDANCE expected this weekend at Park City, Utah include Fox TV’s Robin Robinson and Ch. 7’s Sylvia Perez, providing TV coverage of the festivities; Julee White, NBC director of strategic sales and marketing; RDS’ Megan Ross; Kevin Farley, brother of the late Chris; the IFO’s Betsy Steinberg and Todd Lizak, Mesirow Financial’s Les Coney and Christina and Mike McGrath of Lexis McGrath.

Columbia College hosts Sundance events

CHICAGOANS HEADING FOR SUNDANCE will find a haven in Park City, Utah at the snazzy Jan. 23 cocktail party hosted on behalf of Columbia College by Denis Healy, Brenda Sexton and Julee White at the exclusive Stein Erickson Lodge in Deer Valley.

Columbia College hosts the Jan. 22-24 weekend of Sundance activities, starting with the Open House reception.

Chicago-connected films and filmmakers head for Sundance; “Obama in Africa” gets local premiere

CHEVY CHASE hosts an evening at Sundance for the world premiere of Phil Ranstrom’s doc, “Electrified: The Story of the Maxwell St. Urban Blues” Jan 25 at Harry O’s in Park City.

Narrated by Chicago native Joe Mantegna, “Electrified” tells how Maxwell Street’s neighborhood led to the hard driving sound of the urban blues and ultimately to rock ?n’ roll.

Ranstrom’s companion film, “Cheat You Fair,” documents the last days of Maxwell Street market. Ranstrom began both projects in 1994 shortly before the Maxwell Street market was demolished.

Usama Alshaibi’s personal Iraq doc, “Nice Bombs,” lands March premiere airing on Sundance Channel

USAMA ALSHAIBI’S “Nice Bombs” will have its broadcast premiere this March on the Sundance Channel. Producer Ben Berkowitz negotiated the deal with Sundance and also with Seventh Art Releasing for the documentary’s summer ’07 theatrical run.

“Nice Bombs” chronicles the journey of Alshaibi, his wife and father after a 20-year absence during the early days of the U.S. occupation and Alshaibi’s conflicted feelings about the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Ron Lazzeretti’s “Merry Gentlemen” premieres at Sundance; also Terry Kinney’s directorial debut

One fully local feature made in Chicago and one with ties to Chicago are in the non-competitive Premieres section of the Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 17-27, still the top launching pad for American independent film.

“The Merry Gentlemen,” Michael Keaton’s directorial bow, was shot entirely in Chicago in March and April, with a local writer, producers, and financing.

Also in Sundance is Steppenwolf company member Terry Kinney’s feature directorial debut for Plum Pictures, “Diminished Capacity,” produced by former Steppenwolf Films head Tim Evans.

Chicagoans off to the Sundance Film Festival

SUNDANCING FROM CHICAGO this week are producer Christine Vrotsis, Columbia College’s Bruce Sheridan, The White House’s Melissa Thornley, producers Sandy Gordon, Carrie Kolt Delama and Steve Vladem, and funder Matt Keepman.

The IFO’s departing director Brenda Sexton, incoming director Betsy Steinberg and staffers Todd Lizak and Julie Morgan will host events throughout the week.

UofC grads’ first feature, “Crime Fiction,” made it into Slamdance; other local films at Sundance

CRIME FICTION, produced by the recent University of Chicago grads of Crime Fiction Pictures, has its world premiere in the 13th Annual Slamdance Film Festival, running Jan. 18-27.

Screenwriter Jonathan Eliot stars as a frustrated novelist who gets a sudden shot at success if he’s willing to cover up and exploit a personal tragedy.

What a sweet deal?a Chicago Sundance theatre planned for River West Fanny May Candy factory

About six years ago, Robert Redford came to Chicago to hype plans for a proposed Sundance theatre at North and Clybourn that never materialized. But Redford’s vision of a chain of theatres to exhibit indie films is finally about to be realized here.

Sundance Cinemas LLC is close to formally announcing a six-to-eight screen theatre at the old Fannie May factory site at 1137 W. Jackson. What could be sweeter?

The theatre would be part of a 266,000-sq. ft.

“Steel City,” only Illinois feature at Sundance, plays IFP?an interview with director Brian Jun

The only Illinois-shot feature at the Sundance Film Festival this year was 26-year-old Brian Jun’s gritty family drama “Steel City,” shot in his native Alton.

“Steel City” stars John Heard (“Prison Break”), America Ferrera (“Real Women Have Curves”), and Steppenwolf company member Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”).

Heard had starred in Jun’s short “Researching Raymond Burke” at the Fox Searchlab, after his earlier short “Jimmy Brown” screened at the Los Angeles Shorts Film Festival.

MWFF March 7 evening features Sundance short, comedy, animation, musical drama, music video

Justin Hayward’s Sundance-selected short “Divorce Lemonade” headlines a selection of Midwestern shorts at the Midwest Independent Film Festival March 7.

The Midwest Indie also features George Eckart’s animated comedy “Time Traveler,” Junko Kajino and Ed Koziarski’s musical drama “Homesick Blues,” Jeremy Corray’s collision comedy “Every :30,” and John Weaver’s TransAlarm music video “The Process.”

Chicago at Park City: seven films, one seminar at Sundance and Slamdance 2006 film festivals

At least seven films and one seminar with local ties are playing at the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals that run concurrently in Park City, Utah.

Three of the 16 features in Sundance’s Dramatic Competition are by onetime locals, and one more, Brian Jun’s “Steel City,” was shot in downstate Alton, Ill.

Former Chicagoans Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley launch their feature doc “Wordplay” at Sundance. And Justin Hayward plays his short “Divorce Lemonade” there.

Bob Hercules and Cheri Pugh’s doc “Forgiving Dr. Mengele” premieres at Slamdance.

Hayward’s bleak comedy “Divorce Lemonade” to be one of only 73 shorts to screen at Sundance

When the elite of American independent, mini-major and international cinema unspool their work in Park City next January, Justin Hayward’s “Divorce Lemonade” will be among them. It is one of 73 shorts chosen from 4,327 entries to screen in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, which runs Jan. 19-29.

“It’s pretty cool, I was surprised when I heard last Monday,” said Hayward, a freelance gaffer for spot house Silent Partner Films.

Five Chicago features, two Sundance selections in Chicago Underground Film Festival Aug. 18-25

A heavy dose of hard-hitting politics joins the staples of transgressive and experimental cinema at the 12th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival, which runs Aug. 18-25 in its new home at the Music Box Theatre.

CUFF 12 includes 13 narrative features, nine documentary features, 18 narrative shorts, 29 documentary shorts, 89 experimental shorts, and six animations.

Sundance marks upward trajectory for Benzfilm; feature “Polish Bar” slated for fall production

Ben Berkowitz and Ben Redgrave are fresh from a Sundance Film Festival that saw them make strides on their diverse feature projects.

At Sundance they attended the launch party for Duly Noted, Inc., the new Hollywood independent production company founded by Effie T. Brown (Jane Campion’s “In the Cut,” HBO’s “Everyday People”).

Now Brown is producing “Polish Bar” for Berkowitz to direct from a script he wrote with Redgrave. They are co-producing through their Benzfilm Group, with a Chicago shoot slated for this fall.

Paul Cotter debuts short at Sundance Fest; “Swingers” producer developing his feature

It was five days before Richard Dresser’s play “Wonderful World” would open at the Athenaeum Theatre, and director Paul Cotter had the day off.

It was Sunday, Aug. 15 and Cotter spent the day shooting the short that would land him in the Sundance Film Festival.

Cotter borrowed a friend’s DV camera and shot five scenes that day, exploring five different uses of the word “God” by five different characters on Estes Avenue, where he was living.

Steve James’ Fiji doc “Reel Paradise” in world premiere at Sundance Film Festival

Steve James’ new documentary “Reel Paradise” has its world premiere in the 21st Sundance Film Festival, which runs Jan. 20-30 in Park City, Utah.

“Reel Paradise” will premiere in Sundance’s Special Screenings section, “a selection of special films that are shown out of competition, and which significantly expand the range of subjects presented at the Festival,” according to festival publicity materials.

Hulu/Kartemquin Accelerator program picks two alumni

Kartemquin Films announces the two projects that will participate in the second year of the Hulu/Kartemquin Accelerator: Freedom Hill by director Resita Cox and Still Searching  by director Latoya Flowers. The Accelerator program offers two alumni of Kartemquin’s acclaimed Filmmaker Development Programs $20,000 each towards production, and mentorship through 2021 within the award-winning Kartemquin collaborative … Continue reading “Hulu/Kartemquin Accelerator program picks two alumni”

Coda Collection acquires Dave Grohl’s What Drives Us

Dave Grohl has been one of the most beloved and respected figures on the international music scene since his recorded debut with Nirvana on 1991’s generation-defining Nevermind. Grohl took center stage with Foo Fighters’ 1995 self-titled debut, the first album in a massive 12-Grammy-winning catalogue, including the band’s most recent release Medicine at Midnight (2021). … Continue reading “Coda Collection acquires Dave Grohl’s What Drives Us”

REEL WOMEN: Lisa Masseur, EP/Founder Tessa Films

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2021 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory.” Production sage with an eye for … Continue reading “REEL WOMEN: Lisa Masseur, EP/Founder Tessa Films”

Oscar-nominated, Diane Quon on IFA Executive Talks

Angie Gaffney, Executive Director of the IFA wants to hear from you. As we all know, visual storytelling is a powerful medium in which to delve into diverse experiences that enrich, enlighten and provoke empathy. And with your invaluable input, the IFA is taking a hard look at what Chicago’s independent content community needs to tell … Continue reading “Oscar-nominated, Diane Quon on IFA Executive Talks”

Gotham winner ‘Identifying Features’ comes to Siskel

The acclaimed, gripping Mexican border thriller from debut Mexican filmmaker Fernanda Valadez, Identifying Features, will open January 22 with Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center Virtual Cinema. Middle-aged Magdalena (Mercedes Hernandez) has lost contact with her son after he took off with a friend from their town of Guanajuato to cross the border into the U.S., … Continue reading “Gotham winner ‘Identifying Features’ comes to Siskel”

‘Doll Eyes’ come to life for Chicago director Piñeiro

Felix Piñeiro has signed on to direct ​Doll Eyes​ written by award-winning screenwriter Amir Mohabbat. The horror film follows a developmentally disabled man who protects his sister from an abuser with “unique, desired eyes.” Piñeiro is a two-time DCASE Grant recipient and Finalist for the 2018 Chicago Filmmaker in Residence Award. His latest project is … Continue reading “‘Doll Eyes’ come to life for Chicago director Piñeiro”

‘City So Real’ Chicago’s problems are America’s problems

Molly Given, of the Philly Metro interviews Chicago filmmaker Steve James about his latest film, ‘City so Real‘ Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James’ (Hoop Dreams, America to Me) fascinating and complex portrait of contemporary Chicago delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of a quintessentially American city, set against the backdrop of its history-making … Continue reading “‘City So Real’ Chicago’s problems are America’s problems”

37th Annual Chicago International Children’s Film Fest

The full schedule was announced for Facets 37th Annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (CICFF37) one of only two Academy Award-qualifying international children’s film festivals in the world. Presented this year from Friday, November 13 through Sunday, November 22, FACETS ever-popular signature program will be presented virtually in its entirety due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Since FACETS launched the Chicago International … Continue reading “37th Annual Chicago International Children’s Film Fest”

A Conversation with Bob Hercules & Keith Walker

Chicago Filmmakers is pleased to announce two new editions of Masterwork: Industry Conversations, a series of virtual interviews with long established and award-winning filmmakers followed by a Q&A session with the audience. On Thursday, October 29 at 6:30PM CST, Chicago filmmaking duo Bob Hercules and Keith Walker from Media Process Group (MPG) will be joining … Continue reading “A Conversation with Bob Hercules & Keith Walker”

CIFF announces ‘Go to the Body’ as winner of The Pitch

The 56th Chicago International Film Festival has announced the winner of The Pitch at the 6th edition of Industry Days: Go to the Body, written and directed by Kyra Jones (co-creator of The Right Swipe) and produced by Angellic Ross.  The film follows Sanaa, a rising racial justice organizer who is sexually assaulted by a fellow activist … Continue reading “CIFF announces ‘Go to the Body’ as winner of The Pitch”

Chicago-made web series ‘All-American Sex Offender’

CMA Digital Studios and Proteá announce the release of its bad-girl web series ALL-AMERICAN SEX OFFENDER.  All six-episodes, directed by Chloe Lenihan (writer: HOW FAR SHE WENT; director: LIFE, COACHED) and co-written by Lenihan and Alex Cannon (I WANT YOU INSIDE ME), are streaming on YouTube. The twisted romantic comedy follows an impulsive single woman (Chloe Lenihan), … Continue reading “Chicago-made web series ‘All-American Sex Offender’”

Two Kino Lorber films to screen at CIFF next week

Next week begins the 56th Chicago International Film Festival and Reel Chicago will bring you coverage of the films. This year, we can look forward to two award-winning films from Kino Lorber. THE REASON I JUMPDirected by Jerry Rothwell **WINNER! Sundance 2020 Film Festival Audience Award,World Cinema Documentary** Based on the best-selling book by Naoki … Continue reading “Two Kino Lorber films to screen at CIFF next week”

56th Chicago International Film Festival announces juries

Mimi Plauché, artistic director of the 56th Chicago International Film Festival, today announced the jury members for its competitions, featuring a host of acclaimed filmmakers and film professionals from across the globe. Juries will review films competing for prizes in the following competitions: International Competition; New Directors Competition; International Documentary Competition; Out-Look; City & State; and Short Film … Continue reading “56th Chicago International Film Festival announces juries”

CIFF selects four IL film projects for “The Pitch”

The 56th Chicago International Film Festival announced a slate of four narrative feature film projects in active development that will be pitched live in front of a virtual audience and a panel of distinguished industry judges during the Festival’s Industry Days on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020.  Now in its sixth year, The Pitch at Industry Days has established itself as a leading industry showcase spotlighting bold, original work from the Chicago region. Past projects from The Pitch at Industry Days have gone onto completion, including Jennifer Reader’s Signature Move, and two films showing at last year’s Chicago International Film Festival: Knives and Skin, also directed by Jennifer Reeder, and Haroula Rose’s Once Upon a River. This year’s filmmakers represent a diversity of voices that continue to reinforce the breadth and vitality of Chicago-area filmmakers and projects: from a sci-fi comedy horror film set in the suburbs to a drama set along the Mexico-American border, to the story of a sexual assault within a Black community and an estranged daughter in an Iraqi-American family who impersonates her recently deceased father. See below for loglines. The winning pitch receives an awards package of in-kind goods and services worth tens of thousands of dollars. Contributors include Keslow Camera, IFA Chicago and The Story Stage at CineSpace, Chicago Media Angels, Ramo Law PC, and the Sundance Institute. “Right now, during the pandemic, it’s the perfect time to develop, workshop, hone, and fine-tune feature film projects and make them great,” said Chicago International Film Festival and Industry Days Senior Programmer Anthony Kaufman. “The Pitch is a terrific way for the Festival to support and encourage local filmmakers and help push their projects forward.” This year’s Pitch will be hosted by IFA Chicago Executive Director and producer Angie Gaffney, and this year’s jury includes: Bronwyn Cornelius, producer of Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner Clemency; Ilyse McKimmie, Deputy Director for Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program; and Yvonne Huff Lee, co-CEO of Lagralane Group. The selected projects for 2020’s The Pitch at Industry Days are: Anchor Baby After witnessing his father nearly beat a Mexican immigrant to death while patrolling the desert border, a thirteen-year-old boy growing up in the Arizona Border Militia finds solace in an unlikely place — the arms of the new undocumented migrant girl in town. Screenwriter: Anna Hozian Director: Danny Mooney Producer: Dale Armin Johnson Go to the Body After Sanaa, a rising racial justice organizer, is sexually assaulted by a fellow activist, she tries to push past her trauma and return to her normal life. The only thing standing in the way is her fianceé, Kendrick, an overprotective boxer who has his own idea of justice. Writer/Director: Kyra Jones Producer: Angellic Ross Invasion of the Housewives … Continue reading “CIFF selects four IL film projects for “The Pitch””

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”

National Geographic acquires Kartemquinn’s City so Real

National Geographic announced the acquisition of CITY SO REAL, an official Indie Episodic selection at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, set to premiere on the network this fall. From twice Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James (America to Me, Hoop Dreams) and his longtime producing partner Zak Piper (Life Itself, The Interrupters) the fascinating and complex … Continue reading “National Geographic acquires Kartemquinn’s City so Real”

Chicago filmmaker Kris Rey talks about her 4th feature

Chicago filmmaker, Kris Rey talks with Reel Chicago about the making of her newly released indie feature “I Used to Go Here” opening today at the Music Box. It’s always fun watching a film and seeing local Chicago names, faces, and locations being showcased.  Couple that with the talented female filmmaker, Kris Rey who is making … Continue reading “Chicago filmmaker Kris Rey talks about her 4th feature”

Chicago Fire’s Reed-Foster talks up series “I’m Tired”

Acclaimed Chicago actress / producer Deanna Reed-Foster (Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D.) launches a powerful PSA video series titled I’m Tired. In a time when most people are just trying to survive, others are doing their best to help those in need.  One person doing just that is acclaimed Chicago actress / producer Deanna Reed-Foster (Chicago Fire, Chicago … Continue reading “Chicago Fire’s Reed-Foster talks up series “I’m Tired””

Filmmaker Chantel Chavon tackles racism, mental health

Up and coming Chicago-based filmmaker, Chantel Chavon, makes her directorial debut by tackling the connection between racism and mental illness head on in the short film, When the Leaves Fall. Based on an original screenplay by Chavon, the psychological drama tells the story of a mentally-ill homeless woman living inside of a bus shelter, who … Continue reading “Filmmaker Chantel Chavon tackles racism, mental health”

Chicago urban farmer in Mailchimp docuseries Essentials

Mailchimp, VICE, and Arts & Sciences, launches the self-shot docuseries Essentials that follows nine essential workers navigating their lives during Covid-19 in various cities around the United States. The show focuses on often less-heard-about employees and small business owners who are exploring ways to modify their capabilities to provide needed services to their communities. The five-part, … Continue reading “Chicago urban farmer in Mailchimp docuseries Essentials”

Spaceship Town & Minimal join for Nice Lena & Friends

Filmed entirely in isolation, in a bedroom, bathroom, and the alley, ‘Friends on a Shelf’ alleviates the loneliness and monotony of isolation. Chicago-based boutique production company Minimal produced a spot for a small independent craft and consignment shop in Evanston, Illinois called Nice Lena & Friends. Directing duo Spaceship Town helmed the ad, with one half of … Continue reading “Spaceship Town & Minimal join for Nice Lena & Friends”

DePaul’s Eltanal & Khatami chosen for IFP fellowship

DePaul School of Cinematic Arts announced that Assistant Professors, Ronald Eltanal and Alireza Khatami, have been selected for the prestigious IFP Episodic Lab fellowship program for their project titled, Tenure. The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) announced today twenty-six feature projects and series selected to participate across three labs over the next month: The IFP Filmmaker … Continue reading “DePaul’s Eltanal & Khatami chosen for IFP fellowship”

HULU/Kartemquin Accelerator announce two films

Kartemquin Films announced the two projects that will participate in the first year of the Hulu/Kartemquin Accelerator: Traces of Home by director Colette Ghunim and Tres Fridas by director Reveca Torres. The Accelerator program offers two alumni of Kartemquin’s acclaimed Filmmaker Development Programs $20,000 each towards production, and mentorship through 2020 within the award-winning Kartemquin collaborative production model.  The Accelerator program builds upon a … Continue reading “HULU/Kartemquin Accelerator announce two films”

Sydney O’Haire’s short film debuts on Omeleto

Being Here, a short film written, directed, and produced by local Chicago female filmmaker Sydney O’Haire, will make its debut on the Omeleto platform, a short film YouTube channel currently with 2.45 Million subscribers.   The short, which won Best Drama at the Windy City Film Festival, focuses on Charlie (Breiner-Sanders), who is struggling to … Continue reading “Sydney O’Haire’s short film debuts on Omeleto”

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”

Reel Women: Award-winning filmmaker, April Wright

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready. April Wright is an award winning filmmaker who brings … Continue reading “Reel Women: Award-winning filmmaker, April Wright”

Inside look at the ScreenCraft Writers Summit

Chicago will become the center of the TV and film universe when it hosts the eighth annual ScreenCraft Writers Summit at the Hotel Allegro next month from April 24 to April 27. Agents, producers, show runners, financiers, studio execs, and, of course, writers are scheduled to share their wisdom. Designed to connect blockbuster movie professionals with emerging … Continue reading “Inside look at the ScreenCraft Writers Summit”

Behind the scenes with the Chicago IFA’s Angie Gaffney

Angie Gaffney chaperones a lot of dreams in the Windy City. As Executive Director of the Chicago Independent Film Alliance — an organization recently formed by combining the Independent Filmmaker Project with Stage 18 — she helps people achieve their goals, and their goals are to make movies. Or short films. Or pilots. Or web … Continue reading “Behind the scenes with the Chicago IFA’s Angie Gaffney”

21st annual Chicago Irish Film Festival opens February 27

The 2020 Chicago Irish Film Festival kicks off with the US premiere of Guns & Rosaries, the 2019 documentary directed by award winning BBC filmmaker Peter Kelly, February 27 at Chicago’s Theatre on the Lake. Narrated by Martin Sheen, Guns & Rosaries is a “fascinating documentary about Father Patrick Peyton, the Irish-American priest who brought … Continue reading “21st annual Chicago Irish Film Festival opens February 27”

‘Breaking Bad’ producer Stewart Lyons at DePaul

Breaking Bad producer Stewart Lyons will be among the TV and film creators appearing at DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts Visiting Artists Series this winter. The award-winning guest, who also produces Better Call Saul, will take part in the VAS’ series of feature screenings and onstage discussions with leading talent in the entertainment industry … Continue reading “‘Breaking Bad’ producer Stewart Lyons at DePaul”

Goldwyn gets ‘Saul & Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band’

Samuel Goldwyn Films announced today that the company has acquired North American rights to Tod Lending’s feature documentary Saul & Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band (aka Saul & Ruby, To Life!). The film debuted and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Miami Jewish Film Festival this January and features Holocaust survivors and band members Saul … Continue reading “Goldwyn gets ‘Saul & Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band’”

Hal ‘Corky’ Kessler hosts $20K screenplay competition

Chicago Entertainment Lawyer Hal “Corky” Kessler, a partner at Rubenstein Business Law, is connecting Illinois filmmakers with an opportunity to win much-needed services in an upcoming screenplay writing competition. Hal ‘Corky’ Kessler, responsible for instituting both federal and state tax incentives for filmmaking, is an adjunct professor at John Marshall Law School and a prolific … Continue reading “Hal ‘Corky’ Kessler hosts $20K screenplay competition”

Bing Liu among United States Artists 2020 USA Fellows

United States Artists (USA) is pleased to announce its 2020 USA Fellows. This year, fifty artists across ten creative disciplines will receive unrestricted $50,000 cash awards. The award honors their creative accomplishments and supports their ongoing artistic and professional development. The 2020 USA Fellows class is the largest since USA relocated from Los Angeles to … Continue reading “Bing Liu among United States Artists 2020 USA Fellows”

Showtime renews ‘Work in Progress’ for second season

Last month, Reel Chicago reported that Abby McEnany and Tim Mason’s new Showtime comedy series Work in Progress has inspired “an impending cultural sensation.” Now it appears that viewing audiences agree, as multiple outlets are reporting that the network has renewed the show for a second season. Boasting a perfect 100% score on the Rotten … Continue reading “Showtime renews ‘Work in Progress’ for second season”

‘Three Hours’ wins ChiFilmFest’s $20K Pitch

Aemilia Scott, Holli McGinley film follows a single mother living on the edge of Chicago’s Humboldt Park The 55th Chicago International Film Festival has announced the winner of The Pitch at the 5th edition of Industry Days: Three Hours, directed by Aemilia Scott and produced by Holli McGinley. The film follows a single mother living … Continue reading “‘Three Hours’ wins ChiFilmFest’s $20K Pitch”

Interview with OTV founder Dr. Aymar Jean Christian

Open Television author and creator is helping to bring marginalized creators and content into the spotlight of American culture   Over the last four years, Dr. Aymar Jean Christian has inspired a community of artists and intellectuals to disrupt one of the greatest institutions in America. With analytical expertise, online manipulation, shrewd outreach, and boundless … Continue reading “Interview with OTV founder Dr. Aymar Jean Christian”

ChiFilmFest announces slate for “The Pitch”

Five film projects to compete for $20,000 awards package of in-kind goods and services   The 55th Chicago International Film Festival announced a slate of five narrative feature film projects in active development that will be pitched in front of a live audience and a panel of distinguished industry judges during the Festival’s Industry Days … Continue reading “ChiFilmFest announces slate for “The Pitch””

Nanfu Wang named keynote for DVID graduation

Award-winning filmmaker will help celebrate grads of the doc program organized by Kartemquin and the Community Film Workshop Kartemquin Films and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago are thrilled to announce award-winning filmmaker Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation, Hooligan Sparrow) will provide the keynote speech at the 2019 Diverse Voices in Docs (DVID) graduation on … Continue reading “Nanfu Wang named keynote for DVID graduation”

The 2019 Chicago South Side Film Festival

Third annual run kicks off with a live party and screening of Jesse Saunders’ ‘House Music: The Real Story’ The Chicago South Side Film Festival (CSSFF) brings back the celebration of South Side of Chicago on films. Featuring a diverse slate of screenings and activities, the event promises to inspire, enlighten, and entertain filmgoers and … Continue reading “The 2019 Chicago South Side Film Festival”

Tessa Films taps Sydney Thomson as Head of Production

  Highly experienced line producer is well-known in the Chicago community   Tessa Films has named Sydney Thomson, an experienced freelance producer and production supervisor who’s a fixture in the Chicago production community, to the newly-created position of Head of Production. The appointment was announced by Lisa Masseur, Tessa’s EP and Co-Founder. The move marks … Continue reading “Tessa Films taps Sydney Thomson as Head of Production”

ChiFilmFest unveils Industry Days agenda

Master Classes with Oscar and Sundance winners are just a few of the events scheduled for October 17-20 program     The 55th Chicago International Film Festival announced today the program for Industry Days (October 17-20, 2019) with an impressive list of guest speakers to inspire and illuminate the film and entertainment community.   A … Continue reading “ChiFilmFest unveils Industry Days agenda”

Kartemquin benefit to honor Julia Reichert

Empowering Truth Benefit Luncheon will also feature exclusive preview of Steve James’ newest project Kartemquin Films, the award-winning Chicago-based documentary not-for-profit behind films such as Hoop Dreams and Minding the Gap, announced today it will honor documentary legend and three-time Academy Award nominee Julia Reichert at the organization’s 2019 Empowering Truth Benefit Luncheon on October … Continue reading “Kartemquin benefit to honor Julia Reichert”

2019 Reeling LGBTQ film festival

From ‘Shiny Shrimps’ to ‘Scream Queen,’ the annual Windy City tradition promises to entertain, inspire, amuse, arouse and break a few hearts Reeling, the second-oldest LGBTQ film festival in the world and a beloved Chicago cultural institution for more than 35 years, kicks off fall with an exciting slate of movies that showcases the diversity … Continue reading “2019 Reeling LGBTQ film festival”

MIFF, ReelAbilites partner for August First Tuesday

The Midwest Independent Film Festival presents ‘When Billy Broke his Head… and Other Tales of Wonder’ Tuesday August 6 at Landmark The Midwest Independent Film Festival is proud to partner with ReelAbilities Chicago to present the 25th anniversary screening of When Billy Broke His Head… And Other Tales of Wonder, on August 6, 2019. The … Continue reading “MIFF, ReelAbilites partner for August First Tuesday”

The 2019 Black Harvest Film Festival

The Gene Siskel Film Center’s 25th annual celebration of African Americans and the African diaspora August 3-29 The Gene Siskel Film Center celebrates the stories, dreams, history, and legacy of African Americans and the African diaspora in the 25th edition of the annual Black Harvest Film Festival. In addition to 50-plus film screenings, there will … Continue reading “The 2019 Black Harvest Film Festival”

Gloria Steinem joins board of new Kartemquin film

Legendary activist and writer strengthens diverse and powerful leaders advising ‘The Dilemma of Desire’ Writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem will join the project advisory board for the upcoming feature-length documentary The Dilemma of Desire. The co-founder of Ms. and former New York magazine columnist strengthens a powerful group of leaders dedicated … Continue reading “Gloria Steinem joins board of new Kartemquin film”

Almost Gold shines with major expansion

Chicago-based production studio celebrates five years of creativity Design-driven production studio Almost Gold is excited to unveil a major expansion of both environment and talent. In addition to production, animation, and motion graphics capabilities, Almost Gold now offers editorial, color, finish, VO recording, and audio mix in its newly completed East Wing. The expansion comes … Continue reading “Almost Gold shines with major expansion”

‘The Chi’s’ Jason Mitchell fired

Star of Showtime series fired by network agent, management team and Netflix for misconduct on set Variety is reporting that The Chi star, Jason Mitchell, will not be returning for Season 3 as he faces possible misconduct allegations. Season 2 of the Showtime ensemble show, filmed here on location, premiered last month and will continue … Continue reading “‘The Chi’s’ Jason Mitchell fired”

Kartemquin names Jolene Pinder as Executive Director

Award-winning, production house welcomes award-winning film veteran from New Orleans to Chicago Kartemquin Films, the award-winning Chicago-based documentary nonprofit organization, today named Jolene Pinder as Executive Director. Pinder joins the organization after serving as Executive Director of #CreateLouisiana since 2017, where she spearheaded statewide and regional advocacy efforts and grantmaking initiatives. She was selected by … Continue reading “Kartemquin names Jolene Pinder as Executive Director”

Cinepocalypse unveils 2019 lineup

The June 13-20 Music Box Theatre fest opens with the World Premiere of Glenn Danzig’s “Verotika” Cinepocalypse, Chicago’s premiere festival for electrifying and provocative genre cinema, returns to the Music Box Theatre June 13th for eight days of features, shorts, events and surprises, including eight fantastic break-out world premieres! We’re proud to announce our new … Continue reading “Cinepocalypse unveils 2019 lineup”

2019 CineYouth audience and jury awards

”No Such Sunrise” and “Mad Lib Pixie Dream Girl” earn top honors from passionate global audience CineYouth Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago, announced award winners for the 2019 program that was held April 26-28 at the Music Box Theatre. No Such Sunrise — by 22 year olds Dana Brandes-Simon, Laura Li, and Cella Wright from Oberlin, … Continue reading “2019 CineYouth audience and jury awards”

2019 Chicago Critics Film Festival

Highlights include 40th Anniversary screening of “Alien”, Chicago premiere of Danny Boyle’s “Yesterday”, guests Jay Duplass, Tatiana Maslany, Tom Skerritt, Jim Gaffigan The Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), the Chicago-area print, online and broadcast critics group that celebrates the art of film and film criticism, today announces the complete lineup, schedule and special guests expected … Continue reading “2019 Chicago Critics Film Festival”

Cooney’s “Runner” leaps to distribution on Omeleto

For any artist who wants to make a really good short film on a single-grand budget, this thriller is required viewing Clare Cooney’s award-winning short film, Runner, obtained distribution and is today available on Omeleto — a curated YouTube channel that features groundbreaking short films and has nearly 1.5 million subscribers. Runner is a short … Continue reading “Cooney’s “Runner” leaps to distribution on Omeleto”

Peabody honors ‘Minding the Gap’ and Kartemquin

The feature doc and the Chicago-based production house earn huge accolades from the prestigious organization Bing Liu’s feature documentary Minding the Gap and Chicago production house Kartemquin Films earned major recognition from the Peabody Awards yesterday. Minding the Gap was listed among eight winners in the Documentary category for programs released in 2018. Kartemquin, which … Continue reading “Peabody honors ‘Minding the Gap’ and Kartemquin”

‘Jawline’ to open CineYouth Festival

Director Liza Mandelup’s teen-focused doc that wowed at Sundance screens April 26 at the Music Box CineYouth Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago, today announced the Opening Night presentation of award-winning documentary Jawline, directed by Liza Mandelup, which had its world at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Jawline follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the … Continue reading “‘Jawline’ to open CineYouth Festival”

Director Sheldon Candis signs with Quriosity

Baltimore native and USC grad brings inclusive and breathtaking style to Chicago- and LA-based production company Sheldon Candis — a writer and director known for his work in documentary, cause marketing, inspirational, and entertainment genres — has signed with Chicago- and LA-based production company, Quriosity. Candis’ work draws heavily on the influences of strong women … Continue reading “Director Sheldon Candis signs with Quriosity”

Doc10 screens the year’s best at the Davis Theater

Fourth annual fest of the best opens with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doc, “Knock Down The House” The 4th annual Doc10 Film Festival’s 2019 lineup is an entertaining variety of undeniable relevance taking place April 11-14 at The Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln Ave.) The program opens with Rachel Lears’ critically acclaimed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez documentary, Knock Down … Continue reading “Doc10 screens the year’s best at the Davis Theater”

Kartemquin Oscar party celebrates a winning tradition

“Minding the Gap’s” Oscar nomination is part of a Chicago filmmaking tradition that dates back a half-century Although a pair of VIP’s were noticeably absent from Kartemquin Film’s Oscar party last Sunday night, Co-Founder and Artistic Director Gordon Quinn didn’t seem to mind. “It was great to celebrate Minding the Gap with the Kartemquin community … Continue reading “Kartemquin Oscar party celebrates a winning tradition”

Panavision helps DP create the look of “Late Night”

DP Matthew Clark worked with Panavision and Light Iron while making “Late Night,” an indie feature starring Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson The following is an excerpt from a story published by Panavision. For the full text, click here. A legendary talk show host employs a young scriptwriter and sparks fly in the new indie … Continue reading “Panavision helps DP create the look of “Late Night””

Patrick Creadon signs with Backyard Productions

Award-winning, docu-style storyteller brings “captivating” talent to West Coast shop Culver City, CA-based production company, Backyard Productions, has signed director Patrick Creadon for exclusive U.S. commercial representation. Known for his strong visual approach and unique ability to draw authentic performances out of his subjects, Patrick marries bold and striking visuals with compelling storytelling. Based in … Continue reading “Patrick Creadon signs with Backyard Productions”

Kartemquin announces 2019 Diverse Voices fellows

Chicago doc powerhouse selects eight young filmmakers who will be eligible for up to $20K in in accelerator fund grants The 2019 DVID Fellows (pictured above) Top row, from left to right: Shiraz Ahmed, Aisha Allen, Joua Lee Grande, Milton Guillen | Bottom row, from left to right: Sebastián Pinzón-Silva, Shawn Taylor, Cai Thomas, Christine … Continue reading “Kartemquin announces 2019 Diverse Voices fellows”

Leviathan caps off busy year with hires and promotions

The specialized agency’s creative expansion includes the hiring of Cody Tilson and the promotion of Kyle Shoup (Chicago — 19 December 2018) As a final order of business for a stellar year, specialized creative agency Leviathan’s Chief Executive Officer Chad Hutson and Chief Creative Officer Jason White are honored to announce the addition of Creative … Continue reading “Leviathan caps off busy year with hires and promotions”

Chicagoland Shorts Vol. 5 accepting submissions

Winners to screen at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater, LA’s Echo Park Film Center, and venues throughout the country   Full Spectrum Features is accepting submissions for its 5th annual Chicagoland Shorts program until November 30 (regular deadline, October 31). Continuing the tradition set forth by the previous four events, the award-winning … Continue reading “Chicagoland Shorts Vol. 5 accepting submissions”

Chicago Int’l Film Fest releases Industry Days schedule

Headliners include Oscar-­winning director Steve McQueen, Emmy-­nominated writer Bashir Salahuddin, and award-­winning producers Albert Berger and Bob Teitel (Chicago — 26 September 2018) The complete program of Industry Days (Oct. 11­14) at the 54th Chicago International Film Festival was announced today with an impressive list of guest speakers to inspire and illuminate the Midwest film … Continue reading “Chicago Int’l Film Fest releases Industry Days schedule”

Applications open for Kartemquin Diverse Voices in Docs

Kartemquin will award grants ranging from $5-$10K to individual DVID fellows (Chicago — 6 September) — Applications are now open for Diverse Voices in Docs (DVID), a mentorship program for Midwestern documentary makers of color organized by Kartemquin Films and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago. Eight Midwest filmmakers will be selected from those who … Continue reading “Applications open for Kartemquin Diverse Voices in Docs”

Bing Liu on the making of “Minding the Gap”

“It’s sort of like watching a child grow up, ‘cause I’ve made hundreds of rough cuts over the years.” – Director Bing Liu Chicago-based filmmaker Bing Liu, the director of the Sundance award-winning Minding the Gap, sat down with Reel Chicago to discuss the making of his cinema-verite-style documentary. The film currently has a 100% … Continue reading “Bing Liu on the making of “Minding the Gap””

2018 Mosaic World Film Festival coming in August

2018 Mosaic World Film Festival to screen Sundance award-winning film “Minding the Gap” and 55 short and feature film from around the world in Rockford, IL (Rockford, IL — 12 August 2018) — The 2018 Mosaic World Film Festival (MWFF) has scheduled its lineup of 55 films for its 11th annual event to be held … Continue reading “2018 Mosaic World Film Festival coming in August”

Swanbergs and Steve James on Kutza, CIFF, and Chi film

Indie-film legends Steve James, Kris and Joe Swanberg discuss the Chicago film fest and Michael Kutza’s retirement.   Surrounded by the glitz of the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF)’s Summer Gala at the Loews Chicago Hotel on July 14, it only makes sense that three of Chicago’s greatest independent filmmakers gravitated towards each other. Reel … Continue reading “Swanbergs and Steve James on Kutza, CIFF, and Chi film”

“Kappa Force” to deliver punch at Logan on July 29

The new web-series features five sorority sisters fighting the patriarchy, one frat boy at a time   Kappa Force is a satirical web series about a crime-fighting sorority that takes on the evil El Douche of Sigma Sigma Epsilon. Director Hannah Welever and writer/producer Addison Heimann’s Kappa Force is having its hometown premiere on Sunday, … Continue reading ““Kappa Force” to deliver punch at Logan on July 29”

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Versa Media’s “Cerebral” to premiere at SeriesFest

The supernatural anthology series is one of 13 pilots accepted to premiere at the festival known as the “Sundance for TV” (Chicago — 6 June 2018) Versa Media, a North American production house designed for a disruptive age, today announces that its brand new series Cerebral will make its international debut at SeriesFest at the … Continue reading “Versa Media’s “Cerebral” to premiere at SeriesFest”

Thrush joins STORY for exclusive ad representation

(Chicago — 1 May 2018) Director Laurence Thrush has joined STORY for exclusive representation for advertising work in the United States. Thrush brings high regard for his naturalistic storytelling and cinematic style, which he has applied to commercials for diverse international and national brands, including ESPN, HP, Amstel Light, McDonald’s, Mastercard and Honda. Among his … Continue reading “Thrush joins STORY for exclusive ad representation”

Chicago Critics Film Festival highlights, lineup

OPENING — Fast Color With Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jordan Horowitz in attendance   CLOSING — Eighth Grade With filmmaker Bo Burnham in attendance     (Chicago, IL) The Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), the Chicago-area print, online and broadcast critics group that celebrates the art of film and film criticism, ​today announces the complete lineup, … Continue reading “Chicago Critics Film Festival highlights, lineup”

Reel Women: Wendy Jo Carlton — Filmmaker

Wendy Jo Carlton directed her first feature film, Hannah Free, starring Emmy-winner Sharon Gless, in 2009. Hannah Free won several Audience awards and is globally distributed. Carlton’s second feature, Jamie and Jessie are Not Together, is often described as the first lesbian romance musical. Written and directed by Carlton, Jamie and Jessie won Audience awards, … Continue reading “Reel Women: Wendy Jo Carlton — Filmmaker”

Dee Rees, Yessian LA lead the week’s industry moves

“Mudbound” director Dee Rees signs with Anonymous Content Production and Management Company Anonymous Content has announced Mudbound director Dee Rees has signed for commercial representation in the U.S. and U.K. The news kicks off a groundbreaking 2018 for Rees, whose feature drama Mudbound has been met with sweeping praise and four Academy Award nominations, including two … Continue reading “Dee Rees, Yessian LA lead the week’s industry moves”

Reel Women: Brenda Robinson, Attorney & Philanthropist

Brenda Robinson is an entertainment attorney and Chicago native who currently serves as Director of Business Development for the Los Angeles law firm Greenberg Glusker LLP. Brenda’s prior law practice focused on intellectual property and entertainment matters on behalf of clients in the music, film and television industries. Throughout her career, Brenda has provided counsel … Continue reading “Reel Women: Brenda Robinson, Attorney & Philanthropist”

“A Tragedy,” “Blow Job” highlight MIFF shorts program

It’s a new month, and that means we are only days away from they Midwest Independent Film Festival’s monthly First Tuesday screening. Hosted by the nation’s only film festival solely dedicated to the Midwest filmmakers, the event provides audiences with regionally produced independent cinema.     Led by the world premiere of A Tragedy, the … Continue reading ““A Tragedy,” “Blow Job” highlight MIFF shorts program”

New PSA focuses on backlogged rape kits

When Mariska Hargitay began the role of Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims’ Unit, the content of the scripts, as well as the work she did to prepare for the role, opened her eyes to the staggering statistics about sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse in the United States. Her response was The … Continue reading “New PSA focuses on backlogged rape kits”

A stroll through “Rogers Park” with director Kyle Henry

It’s hard to imagine director Kyle Henry acting like a “tough bastard” because he’s a really nice guy. But after learning about the process behind Rogers Park — a feature film shot in the Chicago neighborhood of the same name — his self-applied description makes sense. Rogers Park is “a hyper-local yet entirely universal story … Continue reading “A stroll through “Rogers Park” with director Kyle Henry”

Chaz Ebert cohosts “STEP” screening at DePaul

Chaz Ebert cohosted a sold-out screening of the award-winning documentary, STEP, with DePaul University at the school’s CDM Theatre on Saturday afternoon. Following a year in the lives of a small group of high school seniors who are members of the step team at the Baltimore Leadership School for Girls (BLSG), the film celebrates the … Continue reading “Chaz Ebert cohosts “STEP” screening at DePaul”

No Limit, Comcast, NBC, charlieuniformtango in news

No Limit Agency has found its new president in industry and current independent consultant, Bryan Van Dyke.

Prior, Van Dyke spent nearly two years as chief operating officer for AutonomyWorks. Before that, Van Dyke was with Razorfish for eleven and a half years where he led client engagement for a decade and served as managing director before his departure in June of 2013.

Founded in 2008 as a social media agency, No Limit Agency bills itself as a “biography agency,” telling brand stories through all communications channels.

Kartemquin’s festival of new doc projects at ArcLight

Kartemquin Films will cap its 50th anniversary with the Nov. 2-4 Kartemquin Fall Festival, to be held in partnership with ArcLight Cinemas, 1500 N. Clybourn, in Lincoln Park.

The festival, says Gordon Quinn, Kartemquin co-founder and Artistic Director, “emphasizes new projects and rich documentary filmmaking talent in our community and provides a glimpse of the future of documentary filmmaking in Chicago.”

Here are highlights of the three-day festival.

Chicago premiere 9/16 for MPG’s acclaimed Angelou doc

Media Process Group’s feature doc, “Maya Angelou: And still I Rise,” the first documentary on the late author, poet and Civil Rights activist, will have a two-week US theatrical premiere, Sept. 16-20 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

“After showing the film in festivals around the world,” including Sundance,” said MPG’s Bob Hercules, “we’re thrilled to finally have a chance to show it in our hometown of Chicago.”

Smith’s indie starts filming in Chicago & Michigan

The dramedy, “Mercury in Retrograde,” Michael Glover Smith of White City Cinema,  filmmaker, author and film studies instructor, starts filming Aug. 4 for 15 days in Chicago and Southwest Michigan.

Smith, the screenwriter, will direct the shoot in Ukranian Village, Rogers Park and Wilmette and then move to 10 days of filming in historic Fennville, near Saugatuck.

Spotmakers turn their talents to new comedy webseries

A six-part comedy web series, produced by three commercial filmmakers of Take-Take-Take Productions, premieres today and a new episode released released every Wednesday through Aug. 17 at 1 p.m.

The series, “Winner or Loser?” is the collaboration of writer / producer Tony Mendoza, a script supervisor; director Logan Hall, who is represented by One at Optimus and line producer Holli Hopkins McGinley.

Tribeca taps indie producers to pitch at film market

“Signature Move” producers filmmaker Eugene Sun Park and Brian Hiegglke, publisher of Newcity magazine, were selected as 2016 Tribeca All Access Fellows attending the Tribeca Film Network marketplace part of the April 18-30 Tribeca Film Festival.

Fawzia Mirza’s romantic comedy, “Signature Move: Life, Love & Lady Wrestling” was chosen as one 13 independent film projects — 10 docs and three scripted projects — that will participate in the intense rounds of TFI’s market meet-ups.

“Empire” wraps season 2, will resume filming in July

TV UPDATE. “Empire” has wrapped its second season, with elegant scenes filmed at the Drake Hotel that lit up Michigan Ave. the past two days.  Fox TV’s hit series is expected to return to Chicago in July to start filming 18 episodes for season three.  

Eventful: Special screenings, seminars & festivals

THEATRE TALK SERIES, hosted by the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) and the Music Box Theatre, selected “Cartel Land” for its July 10 screening.  Directed by Matthew Heinman, the story is a harrowing look at two vigilante groups their shared enemy, the Mexican drug cartels.

5 must-have iPhone Hacks to make mobile movies

I’m a big fan of “Next Generation Cinema” that’s evolving fast from the combination of a DIY work ethos coupled with smarter, faster and more adept phone platforms and robust “cellular-cinema” support devices being released every day.

John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, extols the virtues of smaller platform filmmaking and the possibilities of this new, mobile cinema technology.

Tax prep firm makes for a surprising web reality show

WHILE A TAX PREPARATION BUSINESS may appear dull and predictable, CEO Judy Brooks and sister Jackelin Brooks, partners of well established, Judy Brooks & Associates (JBA) often joked how their business, often humorous, dramatic and poignant, was the stuff of a reality show.  They brought in their cousin, filmmaker Vera Brooks of Roatan Film Productions, who definitely agreed with them.  

Editor Nadav Kurtz wins top Ad Shorts prize at MWFF

Tuesday night’s Annual Ad Community Shorts program of 14 films vividly displayed the high quality and imagination of filmmakers who work in various capacities in agencies and production houses. 

The 14 programmed films were so compelling, so good within their genres that the jury must’ve tossed coins to slot their final choices into traditional first-second-third places.

Non-violence is the subject of two McPhillips’ films

Actress-producer Grace McPhillips plans to release a narrative short called “Eclipse,” to be posted online Dec. 14, the painful one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.  The 6-minute“Eclipse” and the 90-minute narrative feature, “The Other One,” tackle the complex subjects of promoting non-violence and mediating conflict.

Kessler working on $200mm deal with China Film Group

Entertainment attorney Hal “Corky” Kessler says he’s 60-90 days away from finalizing a deal with Chinese private investors for Father John, the first in a $200 million slate of U.S.-Chinese coproductions.

Kessler says he’s working out the deal in cooperation with the government-backed China Film Group, which manages a $1 billion investment fund for projects with budgets up to $15 million.

Father John is a spy adventure set in “seedy nighttime Shanghai as a melting pot of shady expatriates,” producer David Minnihan says on the project’s website.

Good Pitch Chicago accepts doc submissions April 1

Three years after a trio of social issue documentary leaders agreed on the many advantages of holding an international Good Pitch event here, Good pitch Chicago arrives Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Sponsored by Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, the intense, day long pitch of six-to-eight docmakers to nonprofit funders will take place at Tribeca Flashpoint’s new LaSalle Street space before an interested audience. 

MWFF 2013 season opens with Looby’s ‘Be Good’ feature

TODD LOOBY’S FEATURE BE GOOD opens Midwest Independent Film Festival’s 2013 season Feb. 5.  The Chicago-made indie, written and directed by Looby, stars Amy Seimetz (of recent Sundance selection Upstream Color) as a new mother making the tough adjustment back to the work world, and Thomas J. Madden (Looby’s Lefty) as her husband, an independent filmmaker balking at his new childcare duties. 

New business and a high rating for Burnett

CHICAGO’S BIGGEST AGENCY, Leo Burnett, fittingly starts the New Year news cycle off with two noteworthy achievements.  The first: This month the Chicago agency takes over all ad duties for GM’s Chevy Silverado, which had been with Detroit’s recently formed Commonwealth comprised of teams from Omnicom Group and Interpublic.

Burnett will work on both new Silverado and Sierra pickup trucks.  The agency’s relationship with General Motors goes back to 19967.

Looby’s short ‘Lollywood’ doc screens at Slamdance

TODD LOOBY’S short documentary Lollywood, about a teenage filmmaker and war orphan at Liberia Mission, Inc. screens Jan. 20 and 23 in the Slamdance Film Festival.

Looby’s narrative short Son of None, shot during the same trip to Liberia Mission, won a special jury award at Slamdance 2011.

Looby’s wife Monica Desmond is executive director of Franciscan Works, the parent organization of Liberia Mission.

R/GA’s Grey Goose savvy website in excellent taste

So what becomes the world’s best tasting vodka?  Well, nothing less than one of the slickest, most social media savvy sites now out there in the vast Internet world. 

We are talking about the newly-launched Web destination for Grey Goose premium vodka, which can be seen and savored to the fullest at www.GreyGoose.com

Altogether, the site is the handiwork of more than 20 people who worked at the R/GA office in Chicago, which for about the past year has been the digital agency of record for Grey Goose.

Architecture Film Fest fittingly in Chicago, 4/12-16

If there is one thing Chicago is known for, aside from the blues, our corrupt politicians and the world’s best hot dogs, it’s our architecture.   So it’s fitting we have become the home of the Architecture and Design Film Festival (ADFF), for its third year.

The festival, running April 12-16 at the Music Box theatre, will showcase films from 13 countries, including 12 Chicago premieres, plus discussions with filmmakers, architects, designers and industry leaders.

‘The Interrupters’ wins Best Doc at Spirit Awards

The elation producers Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz felt when their Kartemquin Films’ “The Interrupters” won the Spirit Awards Saturday for Best Documentary was surely mixed with sweet satisfaction for the Oscar doc nomination snub.

“Look, the Oscars, we were surprised and a little disappointed (not to be nominated), but the film has done remarkably, and this makes up for that,” James told the Tribune’s Mark Caro.

CIFF opens Oct. 6 with Dennis Farina’s indie

The 47th Chicago International Film Festival, Oct. 6-20, pays homage to its home city by opening with the “The Last Rites of Joe May,” a quintessential Chicago-set drama, shot in Chicago and starring favorite son Dennis Farina.

CIFF has also designated a “Chicago Collection” section, where “Conversations with …” five notable natives take place throughout the festival, speaking of their remarkable careers or in connection with their latest movie.

Secret funder behind Aug. 12-15 wINDIE City Shootout

A secret angel picking up the cost of the event and donating his own funds for the $28,000 prize money, all for the good of the local arts community, makes the Aug. 12-15 wINDIE City Shootout’s 72 Hour Film Race very intriguing, indeed. 

“Believe me, I understand this is a bit unorthodox,” says Matt Benepe, about the backer’s request for both anonymity and that the five event organizers serve as the face of the event.

Filmmaker Niko Franghias revives Greek Film Festival

Greeks in Chicago — the third largest Greek population in the world, with an estimated 450,000 and second only to New York’s 500,000 –- celebrate their culture with a variety of festivals from January through November.  

One cultural event that’s been absent for a while is a film festival, and that will be rectified Sept. 29-Oct. 2 with the first FilmHellenes/Greek Film Fest Chicago! 

Columbia College hosts May-July YouTube Creator Institute

Columbia College Chicago is one of two sites nationwide, along with the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, for the new YouTube Creator Institute.

The program, housed in Columbia’s television department, trains students in production of digital media and promotion, and offers them access to industry leaders.

On campus and online courses cover scripting, cinematography, monetization strategies and social media tactics.  The program at Columbia runs May 31 to July 22.

“Last Rites of Joe May” in Tribeca’s exalted circle

STEPPENWOLF’S FEATURE, “The Last Rites of Joe May, was selected among a record 5,624 films for screening at the 10th annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It will compete with 11 other features for The Founders Award.

Joe Maggio wrote and directed what’s called “the classic urban drama,” and the ensemble cast includes Dennis Farina, Jamie Allman, Ian Barford, Meridith Droeger, Chelcie Ross and Gary Cole. It was shot entirely in Chicago last winter and finished in New York.  

Worthy local indies to screen at worldwide film festivals

STEPHEN CONE’S DRAMA, “In Memoriam” will compete with 65 films when it premieres at the 33rd Big Muddy Film Festival, Feb. 18-27 at SIU in Carbondale, one of the oldest festivals affiliated with a university in the country.
 
Ian Forester, Kelly O’Sullivan, Sadie Rogers, and Chris Carr star in the story of a young man investigating the death of a couple who died in a freak accident.

Theatrical run set for “Blackmail Boys”

Joe Swanbert has a role in pseudonymous Bernard and Bichard Shumanski’s locally-shot “tender sexploitation flick,” “Blackmail Boys.” TLA Releasing picked it up for theatrical distribution. It’s scheduled to open this spring.

Nathan Adloff and Taylor Reed star as an art student/hustler and his boyfriend extorting a client (Swanberg) who happens to be a closeted, prominent anti-gay Christian author.

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Be lucky to hail the “Cash Cab” and fare well

THE POPULAR “CASH CAB” SHOW is prowling the streets of Chicago, ready to pick up unsuspecting contestants and ask them questions en route to their destinations. The show is here as the result of Discovery Channel answering the pleas of more than 13,000 fans on a Facebook page called “Bring Cash Cab to Chicago.”

One film screens at two fests the same time

WHAT ARE THE ODDS of filmmakers actually seeing their short film premiere at two international film festivals, being held the same weeks this month, at two widely separated locations?

Short film producers Kathryn Henderson and Marie Ullrich fly to London Tuesday to see their short, “Faster!” showcase at the ultra prestigious 54th British Film Institute London Film Festival.

At the same time, “Faster!” also screens as one of the 11 choice selections in the Illinois(e)Makers program at the 46th Chicago International Film Festival.

Coming-of-age drama casting for teen roles

AUDITIONS START IN MAY for Michael Curtis Johnson’s debut feature, the $40,000 coming-of-age drama “Savage Youth.” He plans to shoot in and around his hometown of Joliet this August.

“We intend on working mostly with non-actors so we’ve been trying to get an early start on it,” Johnson says. Most of the roles are for teens.

“I’d say our film is probably something more like the recent film Putty Hill than something like In Search of a Midnight Kiss,” Johnson says.

He’s producing with fellow AFI grads Patrick Underwood and Charles Klein.

Chicago-made music video hits MTV’s top spot

Recording artist Levi Kreis and Sundance filmmaker Davidson Cole combined talents to produce a music video that achieved the #1 Most Viewed rank on MTVmusic.com last week. Kreis’ “Nothing at All” even surpassed the music videos of superstars like Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.

The video was shot at Resolution Digital Studios under Cole’s Traveller Jones Productions banner.

“Nothing at All” is a single from Kreis’s “Where I Belong” album, an auspicious title given the work’s high iTunes debut rank last year among the likes of Pink and Kelly Clarkson.

Federighi directs high school comedy

Billy Federighi and Chris Storer grew up making short films together. They moved to L.A. eight years ago, where Federighi became a rising commercial director.

Now they’re back in Chicago to make the 35mm high school comedy “Sin Bin,” starring award-winning Canadian TV actor Michael Seater (“18 to Life”) and Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) Federighi is directing from Storer’s script.

“Sin Bin” shoots 20 days beginning April 5 in Park Ridge and other suburbs near O’Hare, with city locations including Lincoln Park Zoo and Union Station.

Joone Studios offers space at budget rates

Chicago filmmakers Jayme Joyce, a writer/producer and Jessica Christopher, cofounder of makeup/effects company Cirque De Face FX, met last year at the Sundance Film Festival and found they had a common ambition and aesthetic.

“We shared of vision of building an indie-focused new media production company in Chicago that was both inspiring and affordable,” says writer/producer Joyce.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman at premiere of his movie

OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR Phillip Seymour Hoffman will appear Jan. 28 at the Music Box for a special screening of his directorial debut, “Jack Goes Boating.” It’s a story about two working-class New Yorkers, Hoffman and Amy Ryan, who are brought together on the brink of divorce.

Tickets are $15 and available at the Music Box or through ticketweb.com

“Jack” will have its world premiere at Sundance, Jan. 21-31. Chicago was chosen as one of eight cities across the country to play the film simultaneously with its Sundance world premiere at Sundance.

Vince Vaughn comedy planned for Chicago

VINCE VAUGHN will team up with director Ron Howard for the first time this spring on an untitled comedy about infidelity. Vaughn always can be counted on to boost Chicago as the location whenever he can.

The last and only time Howard shot in Chicago was “Backdraft,” in 1991. Overall his experience here was a good one, except for a location conflict that so incensed the director that he vowed never to shoot in Chicago again. Vaughn, who has had excellent experiences here, may have helped Howard change his mind.

Price of lunch exchanged for short films

Sundance and CineVegas programmer Mike Plante bought lunch one day for a filmmaker friend. “Instead of owing me lunch, why not make a film for that same money?” Plante writes in his blog.

Plante and the filmmaker wrote out a contract on a napkin, and so was born “Lunchfilm,” a growing collection of some 50 short films made for the price of a midday meal.

Plante has screened “Lunchfilm” programs at Sundance and at venues across the country. Now embarking on its second national tour, “Lunchfilm” makes its first Chicago stop Jan. 15 at Chicago Filmmakers.

Chicago filmmaker’s doc opens Slamdance

Chicago’s only major representation at the Slamdance Film Festival will open the 15th annual alternative to Sundance Jan. 22 in Park City, Utah, with a Jan. 27 encore screening.

The film is Yony Leyser’s documentary “William S. Burroughs: A Man Within,” the first posthumous feature-length film about the writer of “Naked Lunch,” “Junky” and “Queer.”

“Slamdance is, as John Waters told me, ?much more “Burroughs” than Sundance,” says 25-year old Chicago director Leyser.

Two decidedly different Dec. 12 events

THE 24 HOUR FILM SCHOOL the afternoon of Dec. 12 promises to deliver some real world insights and inside info from four specialists, including that rare Hollywood species in these parts, an actual distributor, and a chance to do some serious networking.

Actually, the “film school” takes place within five hours and is divided into three sessions.

Attendees have a chance to ask questions about their projects or craft in the first session. In the next session, panelists talk about industry specifics in response to the questions.

Abel Cine Tech opens a Midwest office

ABEL CINE TECH opened a Midwest sales office and small showroom in Oakbrook Terrace, headed by Kari Hess, and joined by production salesman Gregger Jones, from Abel’s New York headquarters and office administrator Colleen Nutter.

This is Abel’s first official office since it purchased the camera and accessories sales division of Fletcher Chicago in March, 2008, and hired Hess, who’d been with Fletcher for 13 years.

For the past 18 months, Hess had been working out of her home.

Gone to a better place?

PEOPLE WERE STANDING IN LINE in Stamford, Connecticut this week waiting to be admitted to the first live taping of “The Jerry Springer Show,” a fixture in Chicago-originated television for 17 years at the NBC Tower.

Springer’s new home is the Rich Forum, a former theater that syndicator NBC Universal converted into a multi-set production studio for “Springer” and two other daytime TV programs, “The Steve Wilkos Show” and “Maury,” with Maury Povich.

Festival a perfect weekend destination

Actor/director Jeff Daniels’ latest feature will have its Midwest premiere at the 11th Annual Waterfront Film Festival June 11-14 in Saugatuck, Mich., where 70-plus films in five venues will screen.

Daniels’ “The Answer Man” is a comedy about the reclusive and misanthropic author of a landmark book that redefined spirituality for a generation, in which he claims to have spoken directly to God.

Joe Swanberg scores third IFC release

JOE SWANBERG’S latest feature “Alexander the Last” will be released by IFC on VOD March 14 through the company’s label IFC Festival Direct, day-and-date with the film’s premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival.

The “Alexander” release was announced at a Sundance Film Festival press conference, where Swanberg appeared with Steven Soderbergh, IFC president Jonathan Sehring, and SXSW director Janet Pierson.

Mr. Monk cuts a ceremonial ribbon

VETERAN ACTOR TONY SHALHOUB, best known as the title character in the popular “Monk” detective series on TNT, was part of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies that officially opened Milwaukee’s new $6 million RDI studio complex Thursday night.

Shalhoub, a native of Green Bay, will return to Wisconsin in February to star in an indie feature, “Feed the Fish,” that will shoot for about three weeks in Door County.

Creadon and O’Malley’s debt expos? “I.O.U.S.A.” premieres in a 350-theatre HD simulcast Aug. 21

Director Patrick Creadon and producer Christine O’Malley present their sobering expos? on the U.S. national debt, “I.O.U.S.A.” in an unprecedented HD satellite broadcast to 350-plus theatres nationwide Aug. 21, including 21 Chicago-area screens, followed by a broadcast of a post-screening discussion.

“To my knowledge this event is the first time this sort of thing was tried with a traditional documentary film,” Creadon said.

“The Promotion” Sept. 2 DVD release should help boost the comedy’s disappointing B.O. take

The filmmakers behind the locally-shot workplace comedy, “The Promotion,” are hoping that the film’s Sept. 2 DVD release will reach an audience that failed to turn out to the June-July theatrical run.

“The Promotion” is the feature directorial debut of Steve Conrad, who wrote “The Weather Man,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” and “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway.”

Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly play rival assistant managers jockeying for the top job at a chain supermarket.

Top pros lead stage and screen workshops
Aug. 2-8 in historical Mineral Point, Wisconsin

If you haven’t booked your vacation yet, and want to combine advancing your stage and screen career amid an historic setting, Shake Alley Workshops in Mineral Point, Wisconsin is the right destination.

Located three hours from Chicago in northwest Wisconsin, the workshops will be held Aug. 2-8 in a charming town that dates back to the 1820s.

Sundance Institute creative director Joan Darling heads the list of 10 distinguished writers, producers, directors, actors and acting coaches who will lead 16 workshops throughout the week.

Steppenwolf Films’ first feature, “Diminished Capacity,” opens in theatres

Culminating in six years of development, Steppenwolf Films’ first film, “Diminished Capacity,” opened July 4 to generally good reviews by major film critics.

The comedy, budgeted at $2 million, was directed by Steppenwolf’s Terry Kinney, one of the founders of the theatre company, and stars Mathhew Broderick, Alan Alda and Virginia Madsen.

“Capacity” was highly praised at its Sundance premiere, where it was picked up for distribution by the Independent Film Channel and compared to smash hit “Little Miss Sunshine” by reviewers.

New! Complete schedule of IFP Doc-U-Mania weekends of info and insight from the experts

Producers Christine O’Malley (“Wordplay”) and Jim Czarnecki, (“Fahrenheit 9/11”), whose controversial new docs were Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominees, are among 12 experts at IFP’s Doc-U-Mania March 29-30 and April 5-6.

O’Malley’s “I.O.U.S.A.” and Czarnecki’s “Stronger, Better, Faster” will be case study workshops with the producers and their docs will be previewed.

Special Doc-U-Mania segments are a pitch session for selected participants and a work-in-progress screening to potential funders or distribution experts.

New Yorker Altenritter opens UpLoop Media for full-service spot production

April Altenritter, owner of New York-based Rockit Pictures, has opened the full-service commercial production company UpLoop Media in Chicago.

While still based in New York last year, Altenritter increasingly had been traveling to Chicago for freelance production gigs like “Trippin’ the Green” for the Discovery Channel and “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” for the Sundance Channel.

Three of Chicago’s best indie producers and a newcomer have entries in SXSW Film Festival

AS SUNDANCE EXCITEMENT ENDS, South by Southwest Film Festival takes center stage, March 7-15, 2008 in Austin, Texas where the work of three of Chicago’s best indie filmmakers and a newcomer will premiere.

They are: Steven James and Peter Gilbert’s “At the Death House Door,” Joe Swanberg’s “Nights and Weekends” and ? at last ? Steve Conrad and Steven A.

House passes Illinois Film Tax Credit extension, now en route through the Senate for final vote

THE TAX EXTENSION IS ON ITS WAY! The Illinois House voted 107-7 to extend Illinois’ generous 20% tax credits. The bill was introduced to the House by speaker Michael Madigan .

From there, the bill goes to the Senate and wends its way through committes and ultimately to the Senate floor for a vote ? assuming all goes according to plan. It’s difficult to say when to pop corks — everyone’s hoping before the end of the month — so stay tuned.

Filmmaker Justin Hayward completes part one of his “seriously huge” feature, “Fireproof Gloves”

WHO HE IS: Award-winning director/photographer Justin Hayward, auteur of festival fave “Divorce Lemonade,” is co-producing, directing and editing his first feature, “Fireproof Gloves,” with a friend in St. Louis, his home town.

He will accomplish what he calls “a seriously huge project” in two stages. He just cranked out part one.

“Gloves'” huge character arcs include “over-the-top” leading persona, Len Nicely, who masquerades a cozy suburban existence to cover his alcohol and abuse-soaked marriage.

Emmy-certified composer Greg Nicolett offers low cost original music alternative to library tracks

WHO HE IS: Classically-trained “lower cost alternative” composer Greg Nicolett, 25, garnered Emmy certification in 2003 as an arranger for Brian Keane Music’s score for HBO’s “Legendary Nights” boxing series.

That was when he was a University of Michigan music composition student, interning that summer for composer Keane. Nicolett graduated in 2004.

RECENT WORK: Nicolett scored director Chris Charles’ “The Small Assassin,” a 35-minute short based on Ray Bradbury’s short story that was targeted for Sundance submission.

Chicago Documentary Festival March 30-April 8 features four world premieres by local filmmakers

THE CHICAGO DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL returns in its biennial incarnation with more than 100 docs screening between March 30 and April 8 at eight venues throughout the city.

One of the highlights is an appearance by former Chicagoan Mike Gray and the showing of his “The Murder of Fred Hampton,” exposing the Black Panther leader’s assassination for Chicago police.

L.A. producer Jerome Courshon separates the myths from the truth of signing a distribution deal

According to award-winning producer/writer Jerome Courshon, a Park Forest native living in L.A., “most filmmakers don’t know the right strategies and they flounder around trying to figure them out.

“I know. I was there myself.”

Eventually he obtained distribution for his movie, “God, Sex & Apple Pie,” amazingly through Warner Bros. Since then, he’s assisted other filmmakers in signing successful distribution deals.

Here, Courshon shares some secrets and debunks some prevalent lies, or what he calls popular “myths,” of distribution deals.

Sign of spring: IFP’s 3rd annual Producer Series with stellar speakers starts March 31 to May 5

IFP/Chicago’s third annual Producers Series gets down to the business of film and getting it to market with lectures and panels by proven experts from throughout the country, including favorite Bob Brown, the business expert behind Jeff Daniels’ indie films.

“The Art of Getting it Done” series kicks off March 31 and runs Saturdays through May 5.

Each year the series outdoes itself over the previous year and the 2007 line-up should fill all 200 seats of the college theatre, said executive director Elizabeth Donius.

Lake County Film Festival March 8-12 focuses on indie films; fewer venues centered in Libertyville

Nat Dykeman’s quest to bring a taste of independent and international cinema to the one million cinematically underserved Lake County residents continues with the 4th annual Lake County Film Festival March 8-12.

Dykeman, owner of Libertyville’s Dog Ear Music and Movies, founded the Lake County Film Festival in 2004 as a double feature, building it to 20 features and 60 shorts last year.

“Happyness'” Chris Gardner in Wal-Mart spot

CHRIS GARDNER, whose determination to succeed was amazingly chronicled in the movie “Pursuit to Happyness,” appears in a Wal-Mart spot celebrating Black History Month.

Directors Corners’ Al Hawkins directed for E. Morris, Barb Stieglitz produced for the agency, The Whitehouse handled post and Gamebeat Studios the music.

Joe Pytka wins 15th DGA nomination

THE VENERABLE JOE PYTKA scored his 15th nomination from the DGA’s 26th annual Best Commercial Director Awards.

The other nominees were Dante Ariola and Tom Kuntz of MJZ; Bryan Buckley and David Gray of Hungry Man. Winners will be feted at a gala Feb. 3 in L.A.

Buckley is a three-time nominee and 1999 winner; Kuntz and Gray were nominated for the first time.

Pytka’s nod was based on spots that include Chicago work — for Budweiser/DDB and Disney/Leo Burnett, and also the World Trade Center’s Memorial/TBWA/Chiat/Day.

Two Kodak favorites to retire Jan. 31

TWO KODAK VETERANS have taken advantage of Kodak’s tempting early retirement package and will leave the company Jan. 31.

Regional marketing and sales manager J.J. Johnston had spent 33 years at Kodak, while regional account manager Ben Stone was close behind with 27 years.

In early January, Kodak will announce its reorganization of personnel placement and how territories will be divided as it moves deeper ito digital imaging.

Speculation is that the reorganization will not call for replacing the two Chicago veterans.

Harpo to produce two primetime shows

THE QUEEN OF DAYTIME is headed for primetime. Oprah’s Harpo Productions sold two reality shows to ABC, the first time she’s attached her name to a weekly primetime series.

These are the first series to emerge from Harpo’s recently formed TV development group, headed by EVPs Ellen Rakieten and Harriet Seitler.

The shows will be shot in L.A. Oprah is said to appear in at least one of the two shows, although it’s not known if she’ll be the host on either one.

Keepman Film Capital funding/production group launches with doc about who created the sundae

“Cold War,” the first documentary initiated by the fledgling Keepman Film Capital, goes into production in January.

“It’s about the absurd conflict between Ithaca, New York and Two Rivers, Wisc. about who created the ice cream sundae,” said executive producer Matt Keepman. He is financing the $250,000 movie through the sale of $25,000 shares in his company.

“We’re in business to provide financial resources to independent-minded pictures for under $10 million, usually under $5 million,” Keepman said.

Harpo to produce two primetime shows

THE QUEEN OF DAYTIME is headed for primetime. Oprah’s Harpo Productions sold two reality shows to ABC, the first time she’s attached her name to a weekly primetime series.

These are the first series to emerge from Harpo’s recently formed TV development group, headed by EVPs Ellen Rakieten and Harriet Seitler.

The shows will be shot in L.A. Oprah is said to appear in at least one of the two shows, although it’s not known if she’ll be the host on either one.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

“DRUNK BOAT” DIRECTOR Bob Meyers and DP Lisa Rinzler are due back in Chicago in July to color correct with I-Cubed’s Mike Matusek. The indie film was filmed in Super 16 last summer and edited in France, home of star and producer John Malkovich.

Kudos to line producer Christine Varotsis who worked very hard to keep the project going here after principal photography wrapped.

COMMA MUSIC is getting set to open a separate sound design division called Particle in the few weeks.

Terris’ “Dirty Work” premieres Tuesday at MWFF

BRUCE TERRIS’ debut feature “Dirty Work” has its festival premiere at the Midwest Independent Film Festival April 4.

Starring Lance Reddick (“The Wire”), Mike McGlone (“The Brothers McMullen”), Nutsa Kukhianidze (“The Good Thief”), Austin Pendleton (“A Beautiful Mind”), Karin Anglin (“Kwik Stop”), Rich Komenich (“The Amityville Horror”), Tim Decker (“Joshua”) and Keith Kupferer (“The Road to Perdition”).

“Dirty Work” is an ensemble drama about the intertwining lives of a corrupt politician, a dirty cop, a crime lord and a hotel maid.

IFP/Chicago screens Gildhaus’ doc at Facets

LISA GILDHAUS on March 15 presents her feature documentary “Almost Home,” about an innovative Milwaukee retirement community.

St. John’s on the Lake is “where residents mingle for afternoon cocktails, choose their own daily schedules, and pursue hobbies like woodworking and playing bridge.”

Gildhaus co-directed with Andrew Lichtenstein. Presented by IFP/Chicago at Facets Multi-Media, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. Gildhaus conducts a workshop at 6 p.m., screenings at 7 p.m. $5; members free.

PAUL S.

Verite doc shooter Dana Kupper loves her work

WHO SHE IS: Documentary camera person Dana M. Kupper, an associate of Kartemquin Films.

She has taught the same camera seminar at Columbia College Chicago for 20 years. “I love it, because that’s the class that inspired me to choose what I do,” she says.

JOB DESCRIPTION: “I mainly shoot ?verite’ or day-in-the-life type shooting, handheld, following people and telling their stories with the camera.” Her work includes Kartemquin’s “Five Girls” and “The New Americans,” for PBS, and Steve James’ doc “Stevie” Sundance-winner documentary.