CIFF debuts program of local directors’ short films

ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS of the Oct. 13-27 Chicago International Film Festival is the “Shorts 1: City & State” program of eight films produced by Chicago / Illinois filmmakers.

The program screens Oct. 18, 23 and 26 at the AMC River East 21 Theatres. Gender roles and identity, God, police brutality, the meaning of life and a Bosnian refugee experience are among the topics explored in the films.

There are three animated films: Recursion” written, produced and directed by award-winning animator / filmmaker Joel Benjamin, a School of the Art Institute adjunct professor; “Positioning,” directed by freelance animator Anne Beal and “Schmevolution,” directed by animator / illustrator Nolan Downs of Orland Park.

Anne Beal's "Positioning"

The two dramas presented are award-winning filmmaker Michael Paulucci’s “Pronouns” that recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and “HUH,” directed by Filip Kojic, creative director / owner of Studio Q Producions.

Two documentaries showcasing are “Shot,” directed by filmmaker and actress Aemilia Scott of Recursive Pictures, Chicago and LA and “Fragments,” directed and produced by Kartemquin’s Carlos Cova.

Writer / director Brian Zahm’s “The Nude,” starring Ryan Czerwonko (“Chicago Fire”) is the only comedy screening at “Shorts 1.”

At 322 E. Illinois, 4 p.m. on Oct 18; 12:45 p.m. on Oct 23 and 8:15 p.m. on Oct. 26, with all eight directors in attendance at all screenings. Buy tickets here.

THE PEOPLE’S GIRLS,” an award-winning documentary on sexual harassment in Egypt, screens Oct. 11 in Honor of the International Day of the Girl at the Jane Adams Hull-House Museum. The event is sponsored by co-directors Chicago filmmaker Colette Ghunim Belgian / American documentary photographer Tinne Van Loon, based in Egypt, in partnership with the Illinois Humanities Council and the Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA).

The 27-minute film features interviews with harassers, survivors and women who fight back against harassment. The film was made in response to a recent UN study proclaiming 99% of Egyptian women have been sexually harassed, says Ghunim. Watch the trailer below or click here to view it on YouTube .

At 800 S. Halsted, 6 p.m. with Ghunim in attendance. Tickets can be ordered here, and a donation of $10 is suggested.

COMEDY/HORRORHALLOWEED,” the first feature by Chicago/LA producers Jayson Bernard and Roberto Rosario Jr. of J&R Productions, will be released on VOD Cable on Demand in October and on DVD in November by New York’s Screen Media Films.

Filmed in LA last year for a budget of $450,000, the story follows brothers Trent (Shannon Brown) and Joey (Simon Rex) who attempt to escape the infamy of their serial killer father (Tom Sizemore) by moving to a small town.

Mayhem ensues when Joey indulges in the town’s prime ganja and the brothers become suspects for a recent string of murders. Also starring among its cast of 48 is Jim O’Heir (“Parks and Recreation”).

The screenplay, by Chicago stand-up/blogger Dale Zalwada, was directed by LA producer / director LazRael Lison, with a 23-person LA crew. It was produced in association with Chicago’s Two 9 Productions and Kansas City-based Summer House Films.

DIRECT YOUR INDIE FILM NEWS to Marla Seidell at or phone her at 818/731-2322.