Lake County Film Festival March 8-12 focuses on indie films; fewer venues centered in Libertyville

Nat Dykeman’s quest to bring a taste of independent and international cinema to the one million cinematically underserved Lake County residents continues with the 4th annual Lake County Film Festival March 8-12.

Dykeman, owner of Libertyville’s Dog Ear Music and Movies, founded the Lake County Film Festival in 2004 as a double feature, building it to 20 features and 60 shorts last year.

Suffering serious growing pains, Dykeman lost “a lot of money” personally financing last year’s fest, and this year is the first that he’s running it under the auspices of the new non-profit Lake County Film Society.

It’s a less far-flung fest this year, more focused on independent films and screening at venues more tightly centered on its Libertyville headquarters.

Jake Jarvis screens his feature “The Girl” a romantic thriller about a young painter facing trouble when his ex returns to town. A Lake Bluff resident and Columbia College alum, Jarvi has appeared as an actor in films including the 2006 South by Southwest entry “The Bondage”

Rolling Meadows resident Steve Coulter hosts the Lake County premiere of his feature “Fate Twisted Simply,” a war drama about the friends and family of eight U.S. Army rangers separated from their unit during a fictional urban uprising on foreign soil.

The Illinois premiere of Noel Gimbel’s 60-minute documentary “Hello Again Everybody (The Harry Caray Story),” screens with Steve Kelly and Jim Klenn’s 35-minute “Tour de Donut: Gluttons for Punishment.”

Dykeman is particularly excited about showing the mockumentary “Cabbie” by Donlee Brussel, Glynn Beard, and Steve Gelder.

“Three shorts filmmakers from 2006 skipped most of the festival to shoot this mockumentary about a guy whose lifelong goal is to become a cabbie throughout Chicago and Lake County,” Dykeman said. “We showed a rough cut at the College of Lake County in September and is stole the show.”

Local shorts include Terry Kinney’s “Kubuku Rides (This Is It),” the first picture from Steppenwolf Films; Jonathan Browning’s “The Job,” Jake Jarvi’s “Free for All,” “Les Pages,” Jack Newell’s “Tells” and “My Lover’s Moods,” Brian McQuery’s “Promise” and “Vacant,” Justin Hayward’s Sundance selection “Divorce Lemonade,” Peter Craig’s “The Climactic Death of Dark Ninja,” Marty Shea’s “I’m a Big Brother” and “The Planning Lady,” Declan Ryan’s Flyover Zone winner “Ulbert,” and Movieside festival director Rusty Nails’ SXSW selection “The Ramones & I.”

The festival will feature a staged reading of the award-winning feature script, the romantic comedy “QWERTY,” by Juliet McDaniel, the festival’s publicity director and Dykeman’s wife. The reading will feature Abby Miller (“Gilmore Girls”), Steve Gelder (“Cabbie”), and Jake Jarvi (“The Girl”).

The festival will be a launching pad for Dykeman’s new DVD label Cinema Obscura, screening the label’s first four releases: “Alma” by Ruth Leitman (“Lipstick & Dynamite”), John Covert’s debut feature “Waiting for the Man,” Joe Pacheco’s “As Smart As They Are: The Author Project,” and a compilation of short film award winners from last year’s festival.

Retails editions are due out May 29 through Ryko.

Dykeman is also planning a monthly screening series beginning this fall.