“Something for everybody”

Roger Ebert will make a special guest appearance at the closing ceremonies of the Naperville Film Festival, one of ten film festivals being held in Chicago and Downstate this month.

Altogether, around 500 independent films — narratives, horror, drama, documentary, animated, experimental, to suit every film buff, including many by local filmmakers — will be showcased.

And to cap this indie film month, the Independent Feature Project will hold its annual Film Gala, Sept. 26, to raise funds for programs and events to support local independent filmmakers.

According to Rich Moskal, Chicago Film Office director, 28 annual festivals were held throughout 2009. Three of them hold the distinction of being among the most enduring: The glitzy 45th Chicago International Film Festival and the 26th Children’s International Festival in October and the 28th annual Gay & Lesbian International in November.

Some, like the first Hip Hop Festival, have added panels and seminars. Most invited the filmmakers and stars for Q&A. And all host a reception of some kind to celebrate the art and craft of the independent film.

Added to the massive mix of available film fare are the nightly and weekend programs of Facets Multimedia, now in its 34th year, and the Gene Siskel Film Center, plus the monthly Midwest Independent Film Festival and Columbia College’s innumerable screenings.

“There’s something for everyone and we’re proud to have so much to offer,” says Betsy Steinberg, Illinois Film Office director of the city/state’s cinematic attractions.

Here’s what September has to offer the film buff:

The 16th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival, Sept. 10-27, is one of the country’s first and most enduring showcases of work by cutting-edge filmmakers. It will screen 94 feature length films and shorts at the Gene Siskel Film Center. CUFF is being held in tandem with new partner, IFP/Chicago’s Filmmakers Summit.