DOCUMENTARIAN BILL SIEGEL producer director of the Oscar nominated The Weather Underground is directing the ITVS-backed, Kartemquin-produced documentary The Trials of Muhammad Ali. The story is about the heavyweight boxing champion’s battle to overturn his five-year prison sentence for draft resistance during the Vietnam War.
This is a period in Ali’s career “that is remarkably unknown to young people today and tragically neglected by those who remember him as a boxer, but overlook how controversial he was when he first took center stage,” Siegel writes.
“This film zeroes in on the years 1967 to 1970, when Ali lived in exile within the U.S., stripped of his heavyweight belt and banned from boxing, sacrificing fame and fortune on principle.”
Kartemquin’s Leon Gast, Justine Nagan and Gordon Quinn are executive producers. Rachel Pikelny is coproducer.
AFTER RAISING $35,000 on Kickstarter, Glass City Films plans a January-February shooting in Chicago, Gary, and Cairo, Illinois for their apocalyptic thriller Chrysalis.
John Klein directs a script by DP Ben Kurstin, about two survivors of a bioterror attack (Cole Simon and Sara Gorsky) crossing a barren Midwestern landscape in search of a way to reconstruct civilization. Caleb Thusat is producing. Makeup by Circque du Face.
Glass City’s short Hangers, written and directed by Blake Clouser, will screen in Columbia College’s alumni showcase at the Sundance Film Festival.
WRITER/PRODUCER JIM SIKORA (The Earl) debuts the music video he and Stephen Combs shot for Mutts’ “God, Country, Grave” at the local troubadours’ free performance Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. at the L&L Tavern, 3207 N. Clark St.
The video features a young woman (Angela Gawthrop) bringing herself to reconcile with her mother (Maria Elana Garcia). It’s dedicated to Sikora’s late girlfriend Nora Arocha, who died last spring.
Sikora is on a writing sabbatical at a log cabin in North Carolina, but will be back for the premiere show. He expects to move back to Chicago next year, when he plans to shoot his long-gestating noir feature I’ll Die Tomorrow with star Michael Shannon and New York production company Elephant Eye Films.
Elephant Eye is also backing director John McNaughton and producer Steven A. Jones’s Harvest, which also stars Shannon alongside Samantha Morton. It’s scheduled to begin shooting in New York once the production team overcomes disruptions due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
ANDREW FRIEND (Workers’ Republic), in partnership with the CAN TV series Labor Beat, is directing the timely documentary, Labor’s Living Lessons. It examines the recent Chicago Teachers Union strike and the 2011 protests over Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s slashing of public workers’ benefits and bargaining rights.
“Labor’s Living Lessons will document the history of the recent years of struggle against the bashing and defunding of public institutions and employees,” Friend writes, “especially schools, teachers, and the unions that collectively represent them.”
Friend hopes to complete the project before the end of 2012 in order for activists to be ready for an expected fight over the Chicago school closings that will be announced Dec. 1.
The project is on Kickstarter and has received $3,500 of its $10,000 goal.
TARA EARY is producing the web series Zombie Fairytale Theater. Eary writes that the series was inspired by her trip to DragonCon Film Festival with her short Cannibal Lovers, when she was “attacked by a horde of zombies—princess zombies. Well, girls dressed as princess zombies,” and wondered “what kind of story that would be, if Snow White woke up from the prince’s kiss, and ate him.”
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