$170K in grants for MPG’s Maya Angelou feature doc

Maya Angelou set for her feature bio-doc

“It’s been a banner month here,” says Media Process Group’s   Bob Hercules, with justification.  MPG’s film, “Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet,” just received funding from two sources: a $70,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a $100,000 grant from the Independent Television Service.”

Although Angelou has written some 65 TV shows and television and 14 movies (including a “Medea” movie for Tyler Perry), directed and acted in them for 50 years, the MPG film will be the first feature doc to tell her full story.

Rita Coburn Whack, an Emmy-winning TV and producer at WYCC/20 and author, co-directs with Hercules;  MPG partner Keith Walker is the DP. Filming started in January with a series of interviews with Dr. Angelou at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C.

INES SOMMER AND KATHY BERGER’S DOC,Beneath the Blindfold,” about the stories of four torture survivors who are among the more than 500,000 survivors who live in the US, screens Monday, April 21 as a joint presentation by the Independent Feature Project Chicago and Amnesty International US.


Sommer, an IFP board member, says IFP’s screening presentation also illustrates the kind of support the organization provides for its membership.

A Q&A follows, with Matilde de la Sierra, whose story is featured in the film, Chilean human rights activist, survivor Mario Venegas and Sommer and Berger.

At the Claudia Cassidy Theatre in the Cultural Center; doors open at 6:30 p.m., doc at 7 p.m.  Free and open to all

INFLUENTIAL DANCER/CHOREOGRAPHERS Ruth Page and Sybil Shearer come “Out of the Vault” (of Chicago Film Archives) May 1 in a mixture of home movies and performance footage that provide a glimpse of the formative years of these iconic Chicago dance innovators.

Discussion follows, led by Hubbard Street’s Zachary Whittenburg with Ruth Page dancers Dolores Lipinski Long and Patricia Klekovic; Sybil Shearer dancer Toby Nicholson and Carol Doty, Chair, Morrison-Shearer Foundation. 

At Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, 7 p.m.  Free and open to all.

DOC “THE HOMESTRETCH,” about homeless youth in Chicago produced and directed by Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly, a co-production with Kartemquin Films, will world premiere at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival April 26. It was one out of 197 docs selected from more than 2,400 eligible submissions.


MIDWEST FILMMAKERS Dan Parris, David Peterka and Rob Lehr, survivors of a deadly African plane crash, are taking their award-winning doc, “What Matters?” across the country to focus attention to global extreme poverty, the subject they were filming across three continents when their plane went down.

The doc is about the three friends (two idealistic activists and one skeptic) who attempt to live on $1.25 a day, the world’s standard for extreme poverty. After the crash, they fought to finish what they started, a doc subject in itself.

What Matters?” will screen April 23 at the Moraine Valley Community College library, in Palos Hills.  

Send your indie cinema news of production, screenings, festivals and awards to ruth@reelchicago.com.