Videographer produced inspirational doc about fighter

A FORMER GOLDEN GLOVES middleweight boxing champion is the subject of “Fearless Fernando Hernandez: A Fighter’s Journey,” a 30-minute tragedy-to-triumph documentary made in its entirety, music included, by still/video photographer Jonathan Levin. 

Levin, whose studio is in Logan Square, shot two interviews  with the 1993 champ and present celebrity personal trainer in 2010.  In between the interviews, Levin shot video and stills at boxing events, weigh-ins and the Jefferson Park gym where Fernando works as a trainer (R. Kelly is one of his clients). 

Hernandez and his family provided Levin with a large stash of black-and-white scenes of his old neighborhood growing up with gangs and drugs. The stills Levin also took of the present day Levin were shot in black and white.  “The only color in the video is in the interviews.”

Levin created the soundtrack by manipulating software and playing guitar.  He also consulted with graphic designers Paul Marvine and Randy Mosher and creative director Budd Shehab.  

Levin, who’s been in the photography business for 32 years – the last 7 doing photo and video, says Hernandez is “a man with presence,” and hopes his that story will inspire young people who grow up poor and tough that they can have better lives.

Currently on YouTube, Levin has entered his work in two local festivals, the Illinois International Film Festival and Chicago United Film Festivals and the AFI/Discovery Channel Silver Docs.

EScene from HappyVANSTON NATIVES DIRECTOR ROKO BELIC and cinematographer Adrian Belic, whose 1999 documentary Genghis Blues was nominated for an Oscar, screen their new doc Happy in 100 cities in the U.S. on “World Happy Day” ­Feb. 11 through AMC and Laemmle theaters, as well as 500 cities in 60 countries worldwide. 

Shot in Louisiana, Brazil, Namibia, Okinawa, and elsewhere, the film examines the burgeoning field of positive psychology, changing cultural attitudes toward happiness, and the human ability to subjectively influence our own sense of well-being by maximizing a set of key elements: connectedness, generosity, novelty, play, and flow, which advocates argue can lead to greater health and longevity.

Tom Shadyac (Liar, Liar) executive produced Happy, which was supported by the Creative Visions Foundation.  Author Marci Shimoff (Happy for No Reason, Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul) narrates.  It screens locally at 11 a.m. at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois St.

SOUTHEAST ENVIRONMENTAL TASK FORCE hosts Peter Bull’s clean coal exposé Dirty Business, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at The Zone, 11731 S. Ave. O, with a discussion featuring Bull and Robert Rosenthal of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Actress Annemarie JacirTHE GENE SISKEL FILM CENTER has launched the second half of the 10th anniversary season of its weekly experimental film series Conversations at the Edge with the Palestine-centered program “We Began by Measuring Distance.”

It features films by Mona Hatoum, Annemarie Jacir, Basma Alsharif, Jamana Emil Abboud, and Nahed Awwad, curated by School of the Art Institute assistant professor Tirtza Even.  It’s Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. at 164 N. State St.

CHICAGO ADVOCATES for Urban Agriculture screen Severine von Tschamer Fleming’s documentary The Greenhorns, about the rise of local and sustainable farming movements nationwide.  The screening is Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia.

THE CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS seeks input on its Chicago Cultural Plan to promote arts and economic development.  The department holds meetings on the plan Feb. 15 at Columbia College, Feb. 16 at Senn High School, Feb. 18 at the DuSable Museum, and Feb. 21 at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

SINCE PREMIERING at the New York Film Festival and screening at the Chicago International Film Festival last October, Xan Aranda continues the festival run of Andrew Bird: Fever Year, her documentary portrait of the iconoclastic singer and violinist. 

Fever Year opens the Northwest Film Forum’s American.Film.Week Feb. 17, screens Feb. 20 at the 20th San Francisco Noise Pop Music & Film Festival, and goes on to play Boston and Omaha.

Billy BaxterIN TRIBUTE to late press agent Billy Baxter, filmmaker Matt Glasson screens his Alton, Illinois and St. Louis-shot dark comedy Love Stalker on a double bill with Love & Anarchy, Lena Wertmuller’s 1973 Italian cult classic, which Baxter released in the U.S. 

Baxter’s former assistant, Glasson signed the New York impresario as executive producer of Love Stalker.  The two were planning the dual screening when Baxter died Jan. 20.  “Billy Baxter Presents: Love & Anarchy and Love Stalker” starts Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. at the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave.

PRODUCTION CREW are invited to submit film, art, and photography through March 31 to Mo Wagdy’s Seventh Annual MoFest, a showcase of below-the-line creativity.  It will be held April 21 at the Portage.

MARK HARRIS’S 1555 Filmworks has released the trailer to Christopher Nolen’s romantic drama The Good Life, which shot here last year.  With Tangi Miller, Richard Gallion, Maya Gilbert, Christian Keyes and Mari Morrow.

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