Euro punk musicians co-star in Leyser’s new feature

Punk queen Nina Hagan

WRITER/DIRECTOR YONY LEYSER, whose 2010 debut feature documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within was released by Oscilloscope Pictures and broadcast nationally on PBS, is making his first narrative feature.

Desire Will Set You Free, shooting in Berlin, is based on a true story about an Israeli-Palestinian-American writer’s encounter with a Russian hustler-artist on the city’s cultural and sexual fringe.

Along the way they discover influences and remnants of the Weimar Republic, WWII, the Bowie years and punk.

The film features musicians queen of punk Nina Hagen, electro star Peaches, German artists Blood Orange, Rummelsnuff, Sookee, Jochen Arbeit of Einstürzende Neubauten, and Wolfgang Müller, with Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Rosa Von Praunheim, Eva & Adele, Miron Zownir and newcomers Tim-Fabian Hoffman and Chloé Griffin, and Leyser. 

Paula Alamillo and Sonja Klümper are producing.  DP, Ali Gözkaya

Leyser has a Kickstarter campaign going to raise $33,000 for 
"Desire Will Set You Free."

STEPHEN CONE (The Wise Kids, Black Box) revisits his touchstones of religion and sexuality in his latest feature Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, set entirely at the 17th birthday pool party of a preacher’s son (Cole Doman).

Pat Healy (Compliance) and Tyler Ross (The Killing) costar.  With Kelly O’Sullivan (Sirens), Steppenwolf company member Francis Guinan (Boss), Elizabeth Laidlaw (Boss), and Spencer Curnutt (Trust). 

Cone is producing through his Sunroom Pictures with Laura Klein and Jacob SimmonsJason Chiu is DP.  Music by Heather McIntosh.  Casting by Mickie Paskal and Jennifer Rudnicke. Production began July 14.

DUNDADAH BARTHOLOMEW, the South Side filmmaker, will screen his newest 30-minute short narratives, Sawbuck and Sheep Hunters, at Chicago Filmmakers Aug. 2 at 8:30 p.m. and at Hokin Hall, Columbia College, Aug. 6, 6:30 p.m.

DAVID A. HOLCOMBE (Yellow) of Soft Cage Films debuts his second feature, Graffito, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland, where Holcombe is a company member.  It’s about the troubled relationship between a filmmaker and the transient street artist she’s documenting. 

Antonio Brunetti, Michelle M. Oliver, Kristin T. King, and Brittany Ellis star.  Script is by Heather Mingo and John SuttonNicholas Reise and Mingo produced.

JESSE ROESLER’s documentary The Starfish Throwers, about a chef, a 12-year-old girl, and a retired teacher fighting to feed the poor, premieres at the Midwest Independent Film Festival, Aug. 5 at Landmark Century, 2828 N. Clark St.  Doors at 6 p.m., producers panel at 6:30, screening at 7:30, after-party to follow. 

CHICAGO FILM ARCHIVES’ newly restored 16mm print of Dewitt Beall’s documentary Lord Thing premieres Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. in the Gene Siskel Film Center’s 20th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival.  Lord Thing (1970) traces the political transformation of members of the West Side street gang the Conservative Vice Lords into activists in the Black Power movement. 

It screens with Robert Ford’s 1963 documentary on juvenile delinquency, The Corner.

FACETS VIDEO will release two documentaries by the Kindling Group on Aug. 26: Danny Alpert’s A Doula Story, about a former teen mother who teaches mothering skills to pregnant teens and Rebecca Schanberg’s Do No Harm, about a physician and an accountant who exposed a Georgia nonprofit hospital’s exploitation of uninsured patients.

JARRELL AND JEROME LUCAS are making Bucket, a documentary about the ubiquitous street percussionists the Bucket Boys.

Send your indie film news to