Eclectic filmmaker Jim Jarmusch tops multi-arts Movieside Film Fest

Jim Jarmusch appears at the Movieside Film Festival Dec. 13 with two of his films.

In his first Chicago speaking engagement, indie stalwart Jim Jarmusch heads up a colorful array of filmmakers and performers featured in the Second Anniversary Movieside Film Festival.

On Saturday, Dec. 13, Jarmusch will preside over the Chicago premiere of his short “Int. Trailer. Night” a screening of his 1986 prison-break comedy “Down By Law,” and a selection of his favorite shorts, including Buster Keaton, Carl Dreyer and Betty Boop films.

Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, author of the book “Dead Man about Jarmusch’s 1996 postmodern Western, will moderate a discussion with the filmmaker.

Forty-year old Akron native Jarmusch (and one time NU J-School student) graduated from Columbia University and was in New York University’s graduate film studies. He burst onto the alternative film scene with his 1984 road movie, “Stranger Than Paradise.” His reputation grew along with independent films and he soon attracted a devoted following. Eclectic storytelling became his trademark, such as “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samamurai,” a comedy about aging mobsters and a Samurai warrior named Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) that he wrote and directed.

Since then, Jarmusch has directed 11 films, written eight and produced four others. He has also has acted in 21 films and served as cinematographer and film editor on three, and was composer and sound recordist on two.

“I met Jim at a takeout restaurant about four years ago during the Cinema Texas film festival, and I spent the past year calling his assistant,” said Movieside organizer Rusty Nails. “Our flexibility with the schedule is what allowed him to come, even though he just got distribution for his new feature ?Coffee and Cigarettes.'”

Movieside’s Sunday slate boasts the first Chicago screening of “Melvin Goes to Dinner,” due out soon on video, the feature directorial debut of Bob Odenkirk of Comedy Central’s “Mr. Show.” “Melvin” will be followed by a selection of underground music videos and a program of international shorts.

Interspersed with the films will be live performances by rock band Joan of Arc on Saturday and burlesque torch singers the Kit Kat Honeys on Sunday. The hosts of the CAN TV musical variety show “Chic-A-Go-Go” emcee Sunday.

Nails started Movieside two years ago at the punk rock venue The Fireside Bowl, mixing underground shorts with live acts. Movieside has played in clubs and theaters around Chicago, and Nails has brought the show to cities across the country.

“We try to push aside the elitist mentality that goes along with a lot of other film festivals,” Nails said. “I just like to give people the most show for their money.”

Nails is planning a “My Bloody Movieside” Valentine’s Day B-Movie show and possibly a month-long national tour to coincide with the self-distributed DVD release of his debut feature, the 50’s style horror film “Acne.” Rah Chicago is authoring the initial run of 2,000 DVDs, which Nails is packaging like an old-school theatrical presentation, complete with classic trailers provided by Filmack and four of Nails’ own shorts.

Nails is also wrapping post on the documentary feature “Highway Robbery” about blind cowboy veteran Tom Ditzler’s battle to save his land in Rockford, which includes a wetlands and an Indian burial ground, from planned highway construction.

The Movieside festival begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14 at the Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $9 in advance, $10 at the door. See ? by Ed M. Koziarski,