Record number of locally-made films screening at Chicago Film Festival

One of the films was made in India and one of the directors lives in L.A., but with 12 films ? four features and eight shorts ‐ either made in Chicago, by a local director, or both, there’s more “Chicago” in the 40th Annual Chicago International Film Festival than there has been in recent memory.

Here’s a quick guide to all the Chicago films at this year’s CIFF, which runs through Oct. 21. Venue locations are listed at the end.

“THE JOURNEY,” World Premiere

Local attorney Ligy J. Pullapally’s debut feature, a lesbian romance about two childhood friends whose relationship begins with a series of Cyrano-like love letters by proxy. Inspired by the true story of a young Indian woman who drowned herself after she was forcibly separated from her lover by their families in 2000, which in turn mirrored the action of Pullapally’s own 1997 short “Uli.”

Pullapally shot in the Malayalam language in her native Kerala, South India. “The subject matter was sensitive and unlikely for Malayalam cinema but everyone was supportive and respectful during the shoot,” she said.

She self-financed the low-budget, 35mm production, in part through the Sunshine Peace Award ? a grant from the Sunshine Lady Foundation run by Doris Buffet Bryant, sister of finance mogul Warren Buffet ‐ in honor of Pullapally’s work on behalf of abused women.

Reach Pullapally at

Screens Tuesday, Oct. 19, 9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 20, 6:45 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 21, 3:30 p.m., at Landmark Century Cinema.

“BORICUA,” Chicago Premiere

Columbia College professor Marisol Torres’ semi- autobiographical debut feature, a “Do the Right Thing”- style portrait of a neighborhood, focusing on three Humboldt Parkers: a college student in a romance with a street hustler, a real estate agent pressured to rip off his neighbors, and a beauty pageant contestant whose ethnicity is called into question.

Boricua debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival last May, garnering a Variety review ? “Her action scenes convincingly erupt with stunning violence,” Ronnie Scheib wrote. “Law & Order” EP Richard Sweren was executive producer. See

Screens Saturday, Oct. 9, 5 p.m., Thorne; Sunday, Oct. 10, 3:45 p.m. and Monday, Oct. 11, 6:15 p.m., at AMC.

“OUTING RILEY,” World Premiere

Pete Jones’ independent followup to “Stolen Summer,” the 2002 inaugural Project Greenlight movie he shot here. Jones himself stars this time as a gay man trying to come out to an Irish Catholic family strikingly similar to Jones’ own clan.

“My family read the script and said, ?this is just like our family, except none of us is gay, right?'” Jones recalled. “Everyone was a little nervous about the gay aspect. My rep said ?if you drop the gay aspect and give the hero a different problem we could sell this to a studio.'”

Jones and his brothers self-financed the $700,000 budget with support from the State’s Lights! Camera! Illinois! loan program. Featuring Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Michael McDonald (“MADtv”). Jones is in talks with several networks about adapting the film into a sitcom series.

Screens Sunday, Oct. 10, 4:30 p.m., Thorne, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 9:30 p.m. and Wednesday, October 13, 4:30 p.m., AMC.


School of the Art Institute professor Ruth Leitman’s documentary about “girl wrestlers” on the carnival circuit after World War II, some of whom are still active in professional wrestling today.

“These young teen girls were out on their own on the road trying to get out of these difficult home lives, and their bodies and their athletic strength were their way out,” Leitman said. “They don’t really view themselves as having pioneered the world of feminism, but I feel like they did.”

Koch-Lorber will release “Lipstick & Dynamite” theatrically in 30-50 cities in February. This is the company’s second theatrical release, after Lars von Trier’s “The Five Obstructions.” “It’s me and Lars & ndash; I’m in really good company,” said Leitman. See

Screens Sunday, Oct. 10, 8:15 p.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m., AMC

“HOMEGROWN,” Eight shorts by local filmmakers.

They include Karen Friedberg’s “King of the Tango,” adapted from a story by Columbia College writing teacher and “Hairstyles of the Damned” author Joe Meno, and financed in part by IFP/Chicago’s 2002 Production Fund. “Tango” debuted at last year’s IFP Flyover Zone Film Festival and has played at the Newport, Seattle and Montreal international fests.

Also screening in “Homegrown:”
Yuongok Kim’s “Blue Flight” about a somnambulistic trip to the moon.
Greg Samata’s New Orleans-set jazz doc “The Hot 8.”
Seth Henrikson’s ice rink drama “Zamboni Man” with music by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.
Gail Gilbert and Lisa von Drehle’s “Metropolitan ? A Gift from Paris” about Chicago and its sister city.
Mark Mamalakis’ “Subway” examines the deeper meanings of public transit.
Yasmina Cadiz’ family drama “Mama Said.”
Lene Chor’s “Mindy” about a shy girl’s unexpected friendship.

Screens Saturday, Oct. 9, 5:15 p.m., Monday, Oct. 11, 9 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12, 4:15 p.m., AMC.

Several of the local filmmakers represented in the festival will speak on the panel “Illinois’ Own: Making it in the Midwest,” Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. at Border’s, 2817 N. Clark.

The Venues: AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois; Landmark Century Center, 2828 N. Clark; Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago Ave. For more see

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