Women’s docs series serve as a building fund raiser

Scene from “Curators of Dixon School”

A series of documentaries by women directors is Chicago Filmmakers’ first event to help benefit the renovation of the historical landmark fire house it purchased to house the non-profit media arts organization and have it become a community resource.

Chicago Filmmakers bought the 87-year old, 5,000-sq. ft.  abandoned firehouse at 5720 N. Ridge for $36,000, from the City of Chicago in December, 2013.  It needs $750,000 worth of top-to- bottom restoration, of which $300,000 already has been raised, says Brenda Webb, Chicago Filmmakers’ founder/executive director.

When completed in approximately a year from now, Chicago Filmmakers will move into its new home, after nearly 20 years in leased space at 5243 N. Clark.

The program, “5 Films by Women,” is screening now through November 15 at the Damen Student Center Cinema at Loyola University, 6511 N. Sheridan Road.

“These five films, by filmmakers Mary Fishman, May Tchao, Carey Lundin, Pamela Sherrod Anderson and Ky Dickens, are a testament to Chicago’s thriving documentary film scene,” says Webb.

“Each filmmaker brings her story to light from a unique and nuanced perspective – stories that might otherwise have been passed over by mainstream media.”

And each, like Dickens, has had a relationship with Chicago Filmmakers that helped lead her to the creation or exhibition of her work, Webb notes.  

“Chicago Filmmakers has been a source of nourishment throughout my career,” says Dickens. “I’ve seen wonderful films and listened to informative panels within their walls.

“I took their Filmmaking 101 class when I was right out of college. it’s great that they’re going to have their own building to serve as a meeting place and incubator for great local talent.”

The program screenings:

SUNDAY, OCT. 25, 2 p.m.: SPILLED WATER,” Mary Tchao’s debut short film explores the lives of four Chinese women as their country’s rapid economic transformation shifts their roles, rights, and status as mothers, wives, and daughters and we learn how and why gender equality in China is so hard-earned. 

At 3:30 pm: “JENS JENSEN THE LIVING GREEN,” director Carey Lundin’s compelling profile of the unsung pioneering Chicago landscape architect who became one of America’s most influential urban designers and early conservationists.

SUNDAY, NOV. 1, 2:30 p.m.: “THE CURATORS OF DIXON SCHOOL by Pamela Sherrod Anderson, highlights Dixon Elementary, where enlightened educators implemented the idea that art should be an integral part of the everyday learning environment, with museum-quality works openly adorning the halls.

SUNDAY, NOV. 15 at 2:30 p.m.: “SOLE SURVIVOR” by Ky Dickens, profiles four of only 14 survivors in the history of commercial airline disasters, many of them speaking publicly for the first time to share their complex, personal stories.

(Mary Fishman’s “Band of Sisters,” about the dozen-plus nuns, many of whom were central agents in the great social movements of our time, screened at an earlier date.

The Gannon Center for Women and Leadership and the School of Communication is sponsoring the series. Filmmakers will be in attendance for Q&A. Tickets are $15 per screening and may be purchased here.