Informative, fun film events light up the weekend

Nate Parker and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in “Beyond the Lights”

 A BIG WEEKEND OF EVENTS is here, with more to come throughout this busy October.  The IFP Filmmakers Conference is back after too long an absence, this Friday and Saturday, offering something for everyone, with 40 programs and 14 speakers, at Film Row Theatre, 1104 S. Wabash. 

Friday night, the 18th Black Perspectives Gala screens “Beyond the Lights,” directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Secret Life of Bees,” Love and Basketball”) about a talented young musician on the brink of stardom who struggles with the pressure of her new-found success. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Jupiter Ascending”) and Nate Parker (“The Great Debaters”) and the cast includes Danny Glover and Minnie Driver.

Director Prince-Bythewood and Mbatha-Raw will be honored. Cocktail reception at Bellwether, 302 E. Illinois. 

More on Friday: Acclaimed doc director Steve James is the guest of DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media’s Visiting Artist series.  After the screening of his Roger Ebert “Life Itself” doc, he will be interviewed by Wendy Roderweiss.

At 7:30 p.m. in the theatre in the Daley Building, 247 S. State Street. Free and open to all, but seating is limited, so come early

And “75 Minutes with Steve James,” interviewed by the Tribune’s Nina Metz, will cap the IFP conference Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday, Hollywood pros filmmaker/financier Jake Seal and director Bill Duke tell ways of “Getting Your Fim Made,” moderated by attorney Hal “Corky” Kessler, at Cinespace’s main building, 2558 W. 16th.

Also Saturday, Academy Award winning director Taylor Hackford (“Ray”) is the special guest at 1 p.m. at the Chicago International Film Festival’s gallery space, 72 E Randolph.

On Monday, Oct. 13, the CIFF industry panel, “Get Noticed: Distributing Your Film,”  consists of experts Brian Andreotti of Music Box Films; Gary Rubin, EVP/Cohen Media Group; Marcus Hu, copresident, Strand Releasting, Lisa Trifone, marketing/PR manager, Film Movement/Ram Releasing.  Moderator, Mike McNamara, executive director of the Midwest Independent Film Festival.


At Expo 72, CIFF’s exhibit space at 72 E. Randolph.  Free and open to all.

STARTING SATURDAY, PRODUCER TONY LOSSANO – host for 17 years of “Big Fat Nude Hippo Show” on TV — returns to local comedy/variety after a too-long hiatus with “Lossano and Friends,” an audio podcast posted online Saturday nights at


The show, taped at the Museum of Broadcasting, will have national and celebrity guests, Lossano told Rob Feder. “It’s based on the green room of my old show, where all my guests would get together and just chat.  I’m the host of this party, but it will be a party.”

Ashley Lobo, who’d been a fixture on “Hippo,” is back and cast members include Ginger Zee, Eddie Volkman, Jennifer O’Neill and Jim Groneman. Segment producer is Ann Sheehan; Chris Cwiak is the engineer.

AN URBAN COMEDY WEB SERIES, “Big and Slim” created and produced by 21-year old Columbia College senior Tavores Johnson of Puissant Productions, will premiere on YouTube and at an invitation only party Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Johnson produced, directed and edited the 10-part comedy.  It stars up-and-coming comedians Henry Bailey and Warren Levon, also a Columbia film student, as the “Big and Slim” buddies as they enter the reality of adult life. 

“MADZILLA” PRODUCER MO WAGDY of MiniGorilla Productions, who assembled the 7-minute video to fulfill the dream of a 7-year old buy stricken with leukemia,  through Make a Wish Illinois, announced the new website

The site’s goal, Wagdy says, “is to give ‘Madzilla!’ a more permanent home in cyberspace, while increasing awareness or the project, supporting future projects through Make-A-Wish, and giving crew and vendors recognition (note the web links).”

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