Three local independent feature films screen in Polish and Lesbian/Gay Fests

Three locally-made features screen this month at the Polish Film Festival in America and the Reeling: Chicago Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

The improv film collective Split Pillow showcases their second improv feature at Reeling. And Polish-born local directors Filip Rymsza, and Aleksanda Hodowany and Monika Szewerniak, screen their debut features at the Polish Festival.

“Brush Fires”

“Brush Fires,” a collaborative film by seven local women directors, has its local debut at Reeling Wednesday, Nov. 10. This picture is a refinement on the more free-for-all style of Split Pillow’s first feature, “Cliffhanger,” which was made by eleven male directors and was released on DVD last spring.

Riffing off Jessica Wilbur’s poem “Brush Fires” each director worked from the script of previous directors, recommending changes, then directing their own segments in succession to form a continuous narrative using the same cast and characters.

Sara Laudonia plays a mysterious stranger whose arrival disrupts the lives of friends Lorri Hamm, Candace Thompson and F. David Roth. Directors are Etta Worthington, Ai Lene Chor, Aprill Winney, Amber Mohammed, Laura Lonigro, Maria Gigante, and Wendy Jo Carlton.

“Brush Fires” screens at 9:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at Landmark Century Center Cinemas, 2828 N. Clark. Split Pillow hosts a pre-screening party 7-9 p.m. at Avenue Tavern, 2916 N. Broadway. See

Local work also screens in Reeling’s “Chicago’s Own” shorts program Monday, Nov. 8 at 8:45 p.m. at Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, 2nd Floor. Featuring Mariano DiMarco’s “My Porn Star,” Jeff Smith’s “Dragonseed,” and Bill Kellman’s “Succubus.”

The Reeling 2004: 23rd Annual Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival runs Nov. 4-11. See

“Runaway Divas”

At the Polish Festival, Hodowany and Szewerniak’s 35mm modeling industry sendup “Runaway Divas” screens Monday, Nov. 8 and Thursday, Nov. 11 at 9 p.m. at the Gallery Theatre, 1112 N. Milwaukee. “Divas” debuted last July in a week-long run at the Siskel Film Center.


Rymsza’s meditative experimental narrative DV feature “Sandcastles” plays Monday, Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. at the Gallery Theatre. “Sandcastles” first screened at Indiefest last August.

The 16th Polish Film Festival in America, run by the Society for the Arts, which also puts on the Chicago Documentary Festival, runs Nov. 6-21. See

All the directors will appear at their respective screenings.

– by Ed M. Koziarski,