WIF Focus honoree Chaz Ebert reveals favorite films

In his newly released memoir, Life Itself, Roger Ebert begins the chapter about his wife with “How can I tell you about Chaz?” and says that “her love was like a wind pushing me back from the grave” during his battle with cancer.

But Chaz Ebert’s gifts – personal and professional – have benefited many others in addition to Roger. Her background includes a stint in a modern dance troupe, a career as a trial attorney, and 20 years as vice president of the Ebert Company.

Uganda is the setting for Dave McGowan’s “webumentary” on vets who treat ailing wildlife

In August, veteran filmmaker and environmental documentarian David McGowan will travel to war-torn Uganda to come lens-to-face with some of the world’s most dangerous, beautiful and endangered animals.

It’s about veterinarians who specialize in treating ailing and injured wildlife in the African jungle and it’s part of a series called “Envirovet.”

“Think of CSI for forensic veterinarians and you’ll get the idea,” said McGowan, whose Ravenswood Media has produced educational, corporate and training videos for more than 20 years.

A Christmas date for “Proof” ?

By Jonathan Abarbanel

“Proof,” the film shot mostly in Chicago (plus some interiors in London) based on the award- winning play by David Auburn, is set for a Dec. 24 release date by Miramax. The play is set in Hyde Park (ours, not London’s) and concerns a University of Chicago theoretical mathematician and his daughter.

The stars are Anthony Hopkins as the professor, Gwynneth Paltrow as his daughter, Jake Gyllenhaal as the love interest, and Hope Davis as an older sister.

CineCares’ Mirkopoulos Internship cohort keeps it going

5+ A cohort of young professionals assured industry leaders that the future of Chicago production is in good hands at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios on Monday afternoon. Highlighting the Wrap Party for the Mirkopoulos Internship Program, each member of the group had just finished working as temporary crew on Chicago Fire / PD / Med, … Continue reading “CineCares’ Mirkopoulos Internship cohort keeps it going”

A look back at the stories that defined 2018

7+ The number of big stories from 2018 is far too great to fit into one article, thankfully. But we’ve tried. Using a combination of Google analytics, social media engagement, and our own thumbs-up button, Reel Chicago has compiled a list of the most widely read stories from the last twelve months. To get a … Continue reading “A look back at the stories that defined 2018”

Pemon Rami and Maséqua Myers at Black Harvest

4+ An enjoyable and informative conversation with the co-recipients of this year’s Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership Pemon Rami and Maséqua Myers created a thrill wherever they went during opening night of the Black Harvest Film Festival. The popular married couple seemed to know everyone at the celebration and hobnobbed with grace. … Continue reading “Pemon Rami and Maséqua Myers at Black Harvest”

“What’s On Tap” is all about the beer, and more

7+ Kinzie Street Studio’s upcoming weekly series What’s On Tap adds a most essential ingredient to the food and travel show menu: beer. Lots and lots of beer. “Serving up stories about people who make beer, people who serve beer and people who drink beer,” the work-in-progress will be a thirst-quenching, host-driven trip through bars … Continue reading ““What’s On Tap” is all about the beer, and more”

24/7 — Studio Mechanics Local 476

7+ The members of Studio Mechanics Local 476, the Chicago branch of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union, work behind the scenes of every Cinespace production. Without their contribution, the magic that comes out of Cinespace would be much more difficult to make. On a typical production, according to Business Manager Mark … Continue reading “24/7 — Studio Mechanics Local 476”

AbelCine’s Chicago Cinema Tech Expo

3+ AbelCine’s Chicago Cinema Tech Expo this Saturday will be “bigger than we’ve ever done before,” says Brian Khan, the company’s Business and Community Development Specialist. “Every year, we do a signature event,” he continues. “We did the open house two years ago, the Fall Tech Expo last year. This year, we’re going to have … Continue reading “AbelCine’s Chicago Cinema Tech Expo”

Four Antelis enterprises assemble under one roof

Composer and music producer Ira Antelis has managed to assemble under one roof all four of the enterprises in which he’s a partner.

Antelis was preparing to move his Jira Productions, the music and audio company he runs with sound designer Jim Hoffman, out of its space in Leo Burnett headquarters, where Antelis had been music director for 10 years. “It was time to move on,” he says.

New Chicago-based screenplay competition offers an exciting reel deal to the grand prize winner

Chicago’s new screenplay contest from Scott Prestin’s American Stonehenge Films and Craig James Pietrowiak’s Squid Brothers will award cash prizes and exposure to winners, plus one awesome grand prize.

Like Project Greenlight, the lucky grand prize winner of the The Movie Deal! competition will receive an honest-to-gosh production deal.

“The winner will be offered a chance to have his project thrust immediately into preproduction, via an option and production agreement with an established production company and an ownership position,” says Prestin.

Familiar movie characters attached to producer Scott Prestin’s upcoming Chicago crime-thriller

WILLIAM FORSYTE leads a slate of familiar and sometimes sinister character actors in producer-director Scott Prestin’s crime thriller, “The Chicago Blues,” slated to shoot in late summer by Prestin’s company, American Stonehenge.

Forsythe (“Halloween”) will be joined by Vincent Pastore (“The Sopranos”), Daniel Baldwin (“Mulholland Falls”), Jon Gries (“Napoleon Dynamite”), Fred (The Hammer) Williamson and Farrah Forke (TV’s “Wings”).

Three of Chicago’s best indie producers and a newcomer have entries in SXSW Film Festival

AS SUNDANCE EXCITEMENT ENDS, South by Southwest Film Festival takes center stage, March 7-15, 2008 in Austin, Texas where the work of three of Chicago’s best indie filmmakers and a newcomer will premiere.

They are: Steven James and Peter Gilbert’s “At the Death House Door,” Joe Swanberg’s “Nights and Weekends” and ? at last ? Steve Conrad and Steven A.

Story of Chicago’s lengendary Chess Records to film here, starring Matt Dillon and Jeffrey Wright

ACTOR MATT DILLON will portray Leonard Chess, the legendary founder of the South Side Chicago blues label Chess Records, in Sony/BMG Film’s “Cadillac Records.”

Written and directed by Darnell Martin (“Prison Song”), filming of the 1950’s story is set to begin in January in New Jersey and Chicago. Jeffrey Wright also stars.

Chess, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, scoured the South, checking out the various blues scenes and selling records from the back of his Cadillac.

As Local 476 head, third generation cardholder Mark Hogan will strive for permanent tax credit

WHO HE IS: Newly elected secretary treasurer/business manager heading IATSE Local 476, Motion Pictures Studio Mechanics?a third generation 476 member.

HOW HE VIEWS HIS JOB: “Having worked in the business for 33 years, I’ve seen problems first hand. Now I am in a position where I can affect positive change.”

After only two weeks in his new position, Hogan faced a job action when members who had been asked to work without union representation were replaced with non-union workers.

Fear and Hustling: “Hustle & Flow’s” Terrence Howard: The performance that made him a star

Chicago native Terrence Howard’s 17-year film and TV career underwent a seismic shift with his star turn in “Hustle & Flow,” the Memphis hip-hop drama that sold to MTV and Paramount Classics for a record $9 million at Sundance.

This year alone Howard appears five films.

They are “Crash,” “Lackawanna Blues,” “Four Brothers,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” and the Oprah Winfrey-produced made-for-TV “Their Eyes were Watching God.”

Howard will be the honoree of the Chicago International Film Festival’s Black Perspectives Program this October.

Making it Up: An interview with David Pasquesi, improv powerhouse, busy actor and show creator

A leading improviser and comic actor, David Pasquesi has appeared in films including “The Fugitive” and “Father of the Bride,” and Harold Ramis’ “Groundhog Day” and “Stuart Saves His Family.” His TV credits include “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Common Ground,” and “Strangers with Candy.”

Pasquesi has roles in two locally-shot features due out later this year: Ramis’ “Ice Harvest,” and former standup partner Jeff Garlin’s “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With.” He’s also in the forthcoming film version of “Strangers with Candy.”

Pasquesi and Steppenwolf company member Tracy Letts premier

DePaul Digital Cinema Program shoots feature film; crew will mix professionals and students

DePaul University’s year-old Digital Cinema Program leaps into the big leagues this summer when a mix of professionals and students from the program will produce a feature film under the school’s Bluelight Productions banner.

Director Matt Irvine brings together the same core team of industry professional faculty members who have overseen the production of Bluelight’s inaugural hour-long “Last Call,” which is in post after shooting last July.

New “Duel Masters,” seventh “Leisure Suit Larry” videogames roll from High Voltage

Hoffman Estates videogame designer High Voltage Software created two major releases this fall for very different audiences, and is working with Warner Bros. on a famous children’s classic for release next summer.

Atari just released High Voltage’s “Duel Masters,” the first PlayStation game based on the popular card game and animated series, targeted at boys ages eight to 14.

And last month Vivendi Universal put out “Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude,” the latest installment in the venerable adult game series.

Record number of locally-made films screening at Chicago Film Festival

One of the films was made in India and one of the directors lives in L.A., but with 12 films ? four features and eight shorts ‐ either made in Chicago, by a local director, or both, there’s more “Chicago” in the 40th Annual Chicago International Film Festival than there has been in recent memory.

Here’s a quick guide to all the Chicago films at this year’s CIFF, which runs through Oct. 21. Venue locations are listed at the end.

“THE JOURNEY,” World Premiere

Local attorney Ligy J.