April 29 Ebert Fest screens Bhargava’s first feature

Scene from Bhargava’s ‘Patang’

14TH ANNUAL EBERT FEST Ebert Fest in Champaign April 29 will feature Prashant Bhargava’s Patang (The Kite), a family drama about a father and daughter returning to their hometown of Ahmedabad, India during the city’s annual kite festival.  

A Hyde Park native, Bhargava spent years on and off living in Ahmedabad, establishing a sense of naturalistic setting to combine actors and non-actors. Roger Ebert called it “joyous” and “lovely in its construction.” 

It’s Bhargava’s debut feature after the Sundance/Film Movement short Sangam and a career that has included designing HBO promo spots.  Bhargava recently moved back to Chicago from Brooklyn.  He’s self-releasing Patang this spring in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, with the option of expanding to more cities.

Patang screened in competition at the Berlin, Tribeca, and Chicago film festivals.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SAG-AFTRA MERGER tonight, April 3 at the Midwest Independent Film Festival’s panel, with SAG-AFTRA executive director Eric Chaudron, copresident Ilyssa Fradin and second VP Craig Harris to answer your questions.   It starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Century Landmark Cinema, 2828 N. Broadway.

NORTHWESTERN ALUM TOM GUSTAFSON (Were the World Mine) holds the Chicago premiere of his sophomore feature Mariachi Gringo April 18 as the closing night film of the 28th Chicago International Latino Film Festival.  Shawn Ashmore stars as a small town American who follows his dreams of becoming a Mariachi singer to Mexico.  With Martha Higareda and Lila Downs. 

At AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois St., 6 p.m. followed by a reception at River East Arts Center, 435 E. Illinois St.  $75; members $65.

THE LOCAL INDIE SCENE is always percolating with features and shorts in a wide variety of genres. Here are five new entries currently in various stages of production.

Jason Schaver in 'The Truth About Average Guys'KEN GAYTON AND JASON SCHAVER of Adjusted Gratuity are shooting the comedy Wingman Incorporated from April through August.  It’s about a psychologist left at the altar by his fiancée, who starts a company to help men pick up women.  Gayton, Schaver, Bethany Carol, Kevin Miller, and Walt Sloan star.

Gayton and Schaver’s previous films The Truth About Average Guys and S.O.L. both won awards at the Trail Dance Film Festival.

SEAN J.S. JOURDAN of Kekule Productions makes his feature directorial debut with Teddy Boy, a psychological thriller about a rising tennis star who becomes entangled in a charade with a grieving couple while staying at their home in the Rockies.  Meryem Ersoz (Mind’s Eye) is producing.  Kuba Zelazek is DP.

QUAD CITIES FILMMAKER Stephen Folker (The Moustache Movie, Castle Siege) is in preproduction on the apocalyptic thriller To Survive.  “It’s a complete 180 from what we’re used to doing,” says Folker, until now a comedic director.

MICHAEL MILLER is directing the sci-fi comedy web series Vladella Presents, about a conspiracy theorist befriended by a pair of interdimensional travelers who promise to show him the secrets of the universe in exchange for letting them crash at his home.  With Shirin Caiola, Dominica Strong, Michael Stack, and Jim Mazzarelli.

Mark HowardMARK HOWARD of McKnight Pictures is developing the web series No Chaser, based on his Black Harvest Film Festival-winning short.  It’s about an FBI agent searching for his criminal father.

A SHORT DOCUMENTARY The Queen of My Dreams, from Fawzia Mirza and Ryan Logan, revisits Mirza’s childhood fascination with Bollywood starlets, premiered March 24 in the Outfest: Fusion Film Festival.

DEADLINE: June 14 is the entry deadline for the 9th Chicago International Reel Shorts Film Festival.

Send your indie film news to edmkoz@hotmail.com.