THE UNITED FILM FESTIVAL returns to the Music Box Theatre Sept. 22-27 with a program that includes some 19 narrative and documentary features and 21 shorts.
Some highlights are Chicago Farmer, Cory Poplin’s documentary about folk singer Cody Diekhoff; Best Laid Plans, a British adaptation of Of Mice and Men starring Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Stephen Graham; The Warped Tour, a documentary about the U.S.’s longest-running music festival; and Clayton Brown’s IFP Production Fund-winning audiophile romance Galileo’s Grave.
The closing-night film is the festival premiere of Gwydhar Gebien’s Elgin-shot improvised drama Dark Before Dawn. Gebien is also at work on the short Recalculating, starring Katy Sullivan, a double amputee and sprinter who competed in the 2012 Paralympics.
NICHOLAS P. RICHARDS’ dark comedy Normal, starring Frank Brummett as a man stuck in a gorilla suit driving to Normal, Illinois to deliver a mysterious package and ransom his stolen car, has a public cast and crew screening Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois St. Q&A follows.
Featuring Geno Rathbone, Erin Breen, Mike Pusateri, Rocky Russell, Emmi Chen, and Neil Kubath. Brummett, Rathbone and Richards produced with Ben Mollin.
ON LOOK FILMS is in post-production on the feature documentary Voices and Faces of the Adhan: Cairo, about the 1,400-year-old tradition of Muslim call to prayer in Egypt’s capital, now endangered by a law phasing out individual Mosque’s live call in favor of a centralized radio broadcast.
“The film follows the muezzins of Cairo—the voices of the city—as the tradition of the adhan, and Egypt itself, undergo crucial changes,” the filmmakers write. “We believe everyone can connect with the very human stories of our individual muezzins. In this way we see the film as an opportunity for intercultural dialogue between the West and the Middle East, at a time when it’s greatly needed.”
A $5,000 GRANT was award to Chicago Filmmakers from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a set of documentary screening series.
The first series is The Power of the Pixel: Digital Revolution, which “will explore the role of digital and social media in facilitating civil uprisings and revolutions abroad as well as fostering civil disobedience and community action in the U.S.”
The second series is Green Screen Environmental Series, which “will focus on various environmental issues and how citizens are creating public awareness and are fighting back against corporate interests that are often at the root of these problems.”
Chicago Filmmakers’ signature “Reeling: Chicago Lesbian and Gay Film Festival” is on hiatus until next year.
PASQUALE IANINO of Rockit Projects spent two weeks in Bosnia-Herzegovina with journalist Philip Coppens and author Kathleen McGowan, filming a recently discovered pyramid site in Visoko for a documentary about preserving sacred sites.
He also a shot a promo for the organization Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids. “Once I got here I knew this was a special place,” Ianino says. “It’s not a hoax as some skeptics that have never been here may say, instead this is a truly remarkable find that will change the way we look at human civilization and in fact change text books altogether.”