Stamp collecting thrills in Chi-made ‘Freaks & Errors’

Ian, a philatelist in "Freaks & Errors"

Ian, a philatelist in “Freaks & Errors”

With self-deprecating enthusiasm,
the cast wields a
“Best in Show”
kind of charisma that
includes all of the fun
and none of the flaws

Freaks & Errors: A Rare Collection is a documentary that follows a diverse and global group of people who are spellbound by the “all-consuming influence” of philately, also known as stamp collecting.

The Chicago–made film, which took five years to complete, is currently available on iTunes through L.A-based Gravitas Ventures.

Inspired by the art, culture, and history featured on tiny postage receipts, the philatelists featured in Freaks & Errors provide a living testament to the hobby’s ability to enhance friendships and community.

Along the way, they also help tell the story of the 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, a stamp that sold in 2014 for $9.8 million, making it “the most valuable object for its size and weight in existence.”



Before arriving at Sotheby’s, where it was auctioned, the One-Cent Magenta was temporarily owned by John du Pont, eccentric heir to a vast chemical fortune and convicted murderer featured in the 2014 film, Foxcatcher.

Although the collectors featured in Freaks & Errors share an enthusiasm that can be, as one interviewee describes it, “unnatural,” they are an entirely pleasant bunch of folks to watch. With an abundance of self-deprecating enthusiasm, they wield a Best in Show kind of charisma that includes all of the fun and none of the flaws.

Among those making appearances are Sun-Times columnist and author Neil Steinberg, footwear guru Stuart Weitzman, who bought the One-Cent Magenta, and bond king William H. Gross.

Exquisite b-roll, retro stock footage, and smart editing enhance their stories.

Written and largely self-funded by first-time director Mark Cwiakala — graduate of DePaul University and founder of Mutiny Motion Pictures in Pilsen — Freaks & Errors was brought to life by a crew of mostly Chicagoans and Chicago transplants.

For more information about the film, click here.

Send your film news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton,