Rachel Cook’s doc opens Friday’s Social Change Fest

Docmaker Rachel Cook

THE PREMIERE OF RACHEL COOK’S documentary, The Microlending Film Project, is being featured at the Oct. 5-7 Chicago International Social Change Film Festival The story is about the global movement for microloans to small entrepreneurs as a tool to address poverty in developing countries.

“I launched the project while sitting on a Chicago trading desk” three years ago, while reading a New York Times op-ed piece about microloans as a means to empower impoverished women, Cook says.  “And the effort has taken our team all over the world, from the hills of Northeast India bordering Nepal, to an auto factory in Detroit, to a dark jail cell in Nairobi, Kenya.”

At the premiere, Cook will also launch the companion microlending social game, Seeds, through which players can make loans directly to local borrowers in need of capital.

The festival also features sneak peeks of Kartemquin projects The Home Stretch, about homeless Chicago Public Schools’ students, directed by Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly and produced with Spargel Productions.

Also: Unbroken Glass, Dinesh Sabu’s investigation of his late immigrant mother’s schizophrenia and Interrupt Violence, the online component of Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz’s The Interrupters.

The inaugural Chicago International Social Change Film Festival screens at Showplace Icon, 150 W. Roosevelt Road.

WENDY JO CARLTON (Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together) of Juicy Planet Pictures is in production on the web series Easy Abby.  The romantic comedy is about the misadventures of a woman with “anxiety disorders that are soothed only by the seducing of women.” Episodes premiere in November.

Composer Heather McIntoshELEPHANT 6 CELLIST Heather McIntosh, composer of Craig Zobel’s button-pushing true-crime drama Compliance, has signed on to compose the score of Stephen Cone’s Black Box.

Austin Pendleton costars as a horror author whose novel is being adapted by a young theater troupe.

Black Box follows a grad student (Josephine Decker) and a group of undergrads as they stage an adaptation of a 1980s horror novel.  Jaclyn Hennell, Alex Weisman, Nick Vidal, Dennis Grimes and Elaine Ivy Harris play the cast of the play-within-the-film.  

Cone’s previous feature, The Wise Kids, has its Chicago theatrical premiere Oct. 26 at the Gene Siskel Film Center after a successful run on the lesbian and gay festival circuit.

Crew for both films includes executive producers Jay Knowlton and Thomas Patrick Lane of Ghost Crab Films,  producer Laura Klein, DP Stephanie Dufford, production designer Caity Birmingham, and casting directors Mickie Paskal, Jennifer Rudnicke, and Matthew Miller.

SCIENCE DOC PRODUCERS Monica Long Ross and Clayton Brown of 137 Films host their annual Science Fair Oct. 12, which includes film clips, a specialty cocktail, and “Chicago’s most unusual silent auction.”

Comedian Dan Telfer emcees the show at Defibrillator Gallery, 1136 N. Milwaukee Ave., 6:30-9:30 p.m.

On Oct. 16, the filmmakers premiere their documentary, The Believers, in the Chicago International Film Festival.  The doc is about the 1989 controversy over the purported discovery of cold fusion, and the ongoing research in its aftermath.

CLAUDE REID of NuConcepts Productions is in production on the slasher thriller Psychotic, starring Reid and Kristy Karczewski as a pair of roommates on a killing spree.  Reid is producing with Christopher Free.

VANGUARD CINEMA this month releases Daniel Nearing’s loose adaptation of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, newly titled The Last Soul on a Summer Night (formerly Chicago Heights).  The Roger Ebert pick for best films of 2010, it was produced and shot by Sanghoon Lee.

Nearing, Lee and producing partner Rachel Rozycki are in postproduction on Hogtown, about the disappearance of a Chicago theater mogul during the 1919 race riots and Black Sox scandal.

MADSEN MINAX’s documentary Riot Acts, about transgender musicians, is now out on DVD. It premiered at the 2009 Reeling Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, where it won best documentary.

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