NATO Summit setting for Kolak’s indie ‘MAYDAYS’

Emmanuel Camacho and Ben Kolak filming NATO protesters

THE RECENT NATO SUMMIT in Chicago is the setting for filmmaker award-winning filmmaker Ben Kolak’s indie feature MAYDAYS that he says is in the political tradition of filmmaker Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool.

MAYDAYS is about the unlikely romance between teens Daniel, from the North Shore, and Alicia, from a South Side immigrant neighborhood. The movie charts their relationship from their meeting at a Model U.N. Conference to its culmination during the NATO Summit, while exploring contemporary nuances of class relations, cultural difference, and globalization.

Kolak co-wrote with award-winning Latino artist-activist Ricardo Gamboa – who co-directed with him and internationally recognized artist and U of C Assistant Professor Catherine Sullivan – and Michael Castelle.   

Kolak and Gamboa produced with David Jacobson.  Kolak, Sullivan and Emmanuel Camacho were the shooters; Kolak and Castelle are editing.

The ensemble cast includes debut actress Adriana Fraga, a former student of Gamboa, dramatic arts notables Sandra Delgado and Laura Crotte; storefront-theater talent David Seeber and Desmond Gray; high school and college students Nic Park, Vic Kuligoski, Shenell Randall and Alex Joyce, and real-life activists and teachers Tanya Cabrera, Steve Vidal.

Kolak made his directorial debut with Scrappers, a documentary about scrap-metal collectors on the economic fringe.  It was one of  Roger Ebert’s “Top 10 Documentaries” of 2010.

MAYDAYS will be completed this fall and distributed online for free use by educators and also entered in festivals. 

THE FINEST FILMS produced by DePaul’s School of Cinema and Interactive Media students will screen at the Premiere VII Film Festival Friday, June 1, at the Music Box theatre, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Free and open to all.

The festival features 90-minutes of the best 2012 films, out of the 1,000 films students produce throughout the year. The Judge’s Choice and other awards will be presented after the screening. 

JACK NEWELL’S DEBUT FEATURE, the comedy “Close Quarters,” starts the third quarter of indie film screenings at the Midwest Independent Film Festival Tuesday, June 5 at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema. 

Director Jack NewellFeatured are David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagadowski, Susan Messing, Greg Hollimon, Tim Kazurinsky and many other Chicago theatre and improv talents in interlocking stories of battling baristas, betrayed spouses, inveterate tellers of tales, and caffeine addicts, all brought together by fate late one night in a Chicago coffee shop.

Credits include executive producer Joe Rosengarten, producer Ron Falzone, editor Jill DiBiase of Optimus and director of photography Stephanie Dufford.

Opening the evening is 6:30 p.m. The Producers Panel. The topic is “The SAG AFTRA Merger: Everything You Need and Want to Know!” moderated by SAG-AFTRA member Mary Kay Cook, Festival Advisory Council president, with local union executives Eric Chaudron, executive director; Ilyssa Fradin, president and Craig J. Harris, 2nd vice president.

Screening at 7:30 p.m., party follows at Forno Diablo.

Ed M. Koziarski is in Japan finishing a documentary.  Until his return, send your indie cinema items to