Talking Pictures Festival place for many local films

Talking Pictures Festival founding directors Ines Sommer and Kathy Berger of Percolator Films are documentarians themselves. Their Beneath the Blindfold, about local and international torture survivors, premiered in January at the Gene Siskel Film Center.   “Yet it felt a bit unconventional to open our film fest with a documentary this year,” Sommer says.

Their “unconventional” selection is Canadian documentarian Léa Pool’s Pink Ribbons, Inc., which Summers says “takes a hard look at the pink-ribbon ‘cause marketing’ industry, questioning who profits: the cause or the company?” 

“Given the recent spotlight on the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the fact that March 8 is International Women’s Day, it felt right to open with such a hard-hitting and emotionally resonant film.” 

Ines SommerFirst Look Features fortuitously acquired Pink Ribbons after its Toronto Film Festival debut last year, before Komen took heat for its (later reversed) decision to defund Planned Parenthood.  It screens March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Next Theatre, Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St.

Talking Pictures runs March 8-11 at three Evanston venues.  “We’ve always had a strong representation of films with local ties at our fest, but that’s even more evident this year,” Sommers says.

“We’re especially thrilled that Shira Piven, of Evanston’s renowned Piven Theatre family, will bring her directorial debut Fully Loaded to her hometown.”

In Fully Loaded, Lisa Orkin and former Chicago performance artist Paula Killen play a pair of L.A. single mothers whose boozy, lusty night on the town goes off the rails.  With Dweezil Zappa.  March 10 at 7:15 p.m. at Next Theatre.

Lisa Orkin and Paula Killen in Fully Loaded

More local highlights:

March 9: Bob Hercules’s Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance, at 8:15 p.m. at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive.

Xan Aranda’s Andrew Bird: Fever Year, March 9 at 9:15 p.m. at Next Theatre.

March 10: “Chicago: Up Close and Personal,” doc shorts by Medill students, at McCormick Tribune Center.  The program includes Yoonie Yang, Dan Tham and Ashley Gates’s portrait of an AIDS activist, Diva; Ronnie Reese, Justin Eure and Leslie Magraw’s Shape of Space.

It’s an examination of the threatened, Bertrand Goldberg-designed Prentice Women’s Hospital; Chris Bentley, Kris Husted and Matt O’Connor’s Angela’s Garden, about an embattled West Side community garden; and Reese’s Love, Dad, about a paroled burglar reconciling with his family.

March 10: Kelly Luchtman’s Artists in Residence is the story of a group of spirited Chicago Artists who form the Acme Artists’ Community work/living space for like minded creatives, at the Noyes Cultural Center at 2:30 p.m.

March 11: Fast Talk by Northwestern film professorDebra Tolchinsky spenta year following NU’s championship debate team as they prepare to defend their title; at the McCormick Tribune Center, 5 p.m.

March 11: In Shorts from the Windy City are Maria Finitzo’s fictionalized account of her childhood ballet classes; Lisa Gildehaus’ humorous portrait of a Venetian street painted and Mark Rogovin’s 1950s of African American storefront churches by his father, noted photographer Milton Rogovin and Tom Palazzolo’s latest short devoted to the mystery of street photographer Vivian Maier; Julianne Hill’s person essay and Mitch Apley’s hilarious take on magic realism and relationships. 

Other shorts are represented in The Wide, Wide World of Shorts; a program of Oscar-nominated short fiction films from England, Ireland and Germany; 2012 Animated Oscar Shorts and Short Film Spotlight, a free event.

Talking Pictures has averaged 1,200 attendees for its 18-24 film lineup.  “I think the word is out that this is a great little grassroots fest where you can see carefully selected films that will stay with you for a while,” Sommer says.  “So we expect strong attendance and great discussions for the 2012 Talking Pictures Festival.”

Sommers and Berger focus on promoting dialogue around the films, hosting a number of free screenings, and partnering with community groups for post-screening discussion with not only filmmakers but also scholars and activists working in fields that the movies address.

The Festival Party at the close of the festival takes place in the lounge of Hotel Hilton Orrington, 1710 Orrington, 7 p.m., with free appetizers and a cash bar.