– Friday, April 8 – Thursday, April 14, 2016


Friday, April 8 - Thursday, April 14, 2016



Deborah Stratman’s THE ILLINOIS PARABLES (New Documentary)
Conversations at the Edge Series at the Gene Siskel Film Center – Thursday, 6pm

When I was in the second semester of my senior year of high school, drenched with that special hyperactive glee that can only come from being a teenager about to change the world through the power of having read very serious books by very dead people, I came across an unhinged and hyperbolic profile in the New York Times of a young writer of prodigious passion, voluminous productivity, and dangerous proclivities. He had embarked, the author of the article said, on a multi-novel project that set out to do nothing less than reconstitute the history of the European conquests in the North American continent, from the Viking settlements to the present day, through myth, autobiographical recreation, vividly poetic deconstruction, and obsessive archival research. The man being discussed was William T. Vollmann, arguably the greatest novelist in America today, and his cycle of books about America, ‘Seven Dreams,’ had its fifth volume published just last summer. As I was watching, and obsessively rewatching, Deborah Stratman’s beautiful new film, THE ILLINOIS PARABLES, I was unavoidably reminded of the gargantuan ambition and microhistorical approach that Vollmann has taken in his series. Stratman’s lyrical documentary takes the form, not of dreams, but of parables, eleven of them, each a loving, sometimes poignant and often terrible, frozen moment from Illinois’ past. A parable, in contrast to a dream, is a tale that encapsulates a spiritual truth, a way through story to teach a difficult lesson about a higher, better way of life, a grander, more virtuous kind of world, and how we might find a way to deserve those. THE ILLINOIS PARABLES is about the land of Illinois as much as it’s about the people who live here. Stratman shows it as a grand, expansive place, a landscape of fecundity and cruelty and catastrophe. Each of the parable-sections of the film offers a miniature meditation on an event from Illinois history, lushly photographed in gorgeous, complex shots combined in mesmerizing patterns. We see a wilderness, a pre-Columbian ruin, a snow-drowned dirt road, a crime scene recreation, a close-up of a painting, of a monument. The lives that once inhabited and once brought life to these images have been expelled: by the force of nature, by the force of racism, by the force of religious bigotry, by the force of greed, by the force of police assassination. Over the dense soundtrack, the sounds of nature form a peculiar and funereal music, punctuated only by the recitations, in voice-over, of unforgiving and blunt first-person narratives culled from our state’s past. The heart of the film for me is parable 9, an exploration of the Macomb Poltergeist, one of the most notorious poltergeist hauntings in American history. In the film, a young girl sits alone in a room. Slowly, a small spot appears on the wallpaper opposite her. It darkens, spreads, begins to glow hot. Small tongues of flame start to lick up out of the growing hole. Stratman cuts to found footage of a house mid-conflagration, moments away from collapsing entirely. The incomprehensible has become the palpable. The ineffable has descended to flesh. But the mystery has only deepened, and the state of emergency, the state of Illinois, is always just about to burst into fire. Stratman, like Vollmann, gives us each moment as a vision of how a place, how a person might have been, and what that possibility can mean to us now as we glacially awaken from our long nightmares into an incandescent present. Stratman in person. (2016, 60 min, 16mm) KB

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Yasujiro Ozu’s THERE WAS A FATHER (Japanese Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Wednesday, 7 and 9pm

“The film is uncompromisingly didactic in its fidelity to Japan’s wartime ethos,” writes Tony Rayns for the Criterion Collection about THERE WAS A FATHER, one of just two films that Yasujiro Ozu directed during WWII. “Besides promoting the cardinal virtues of loyalty and obedience, it teaches that every man should be content with his role in society, however modest, and should find fulfillment in doing his best.” FATHER tells the story of a humble widower (Chishu Ryu at his most heart-rending) who denies his son the affection he longs for in the process of working to the bone to put him through school. There is much speechifying about the importance of hard work and self-sacrifice, but because Ozu presents them with such sincerity and restraint (and because the film makes no overt reference to the war), the calls to duty feel less like propaganda and more like (very moving) proclamations of spiritual fortitude. And then there are the scenes concerning one of Ozu’s perennial themes, the sense of disappointment that’s integral to coming of age and to adult life in general. Shuhei, Ryu’s character, puts his son Ryohei in boarding school in small-town Ueda, paying for it by working in Tokyo. The film is as observant of Ryohei’s disappointment at living away from his father as it is of Shuhei’s nobility, resulting in an emotional complexity that’s typical of the director’s work. Rayns writes: “Ozu’s possible ambivalence [about FATHER’s overt messages] is felt most keenly in the way he dramatizes Ryohei’s emotional longings for his father, expressed not only in the protracted scene of the boy’s tears when he first learns that they are to live apart, but also in one of Ozu’s highly characteristic pieces of dramatic patterning. There are two scenes in which father and son go fishing together, the first when Ryohei is a boy, the second when he is a young man. On both occasions, they cast their lines in perfect sync with each other, a ‘replicated motion’ shot of the kind Ozu found so amusing and used in many of his films. But the boyhood version of the scene shows first father and son casting their lines in unison and then the boy standing stock-still as his father casts again. The effect of that momentary refusal to act in sync is indescribably poignant, and it reflects Ozu’s mastery of the poetic film language he had developed.” (1942, 87 min, 35mm) BS

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Jean Cocteau’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (French Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Check Venue website for showtimes

One of the most widely known fairy tales thanks to its plethora of adaptations, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a timeless story about inner beauty. Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film version is visually lustrous and richly marked by stunning costumes, elaborate set design, and imaginative use of practical effects. Jean Marais’ duel roles as the unsightly Beast and the blonde, pretty boy Avenant, both of whom are determined to win Belle’s (Josette Day) hand in marriage, are juxtaposed against one another to represent France versus Germany during World War II. Cocteau possesses a fascination for eyes in this film with the implication that they are the windows to the soul. Repeated images of doors, windows, and mirrors all lend themselves to a metaphorical sense of discovery about the inner workings of a person’s mind. When mirrors are present, a self-reflection occurs, the introspection frequently taking on negative connotations. When an observer peers through a window or an enchanted door magically opens, extrospection is often employed, leading to a hidden trait being revealed about a character. The film’s romantic yet semi-tragic tone draws influence from the works of Shakespeare and Greek tragedies: Romeo and Juliet and hubris leading to a downfall serve as signifiers. For a film about surface appearance, two production asides seem appropriate: various film stocks used due to a post-war shortage produces textures in the image can be noticeably different from one scene to another, and a debilitating skin disease that Cocteau developed during the shoot is an ironic mimicking of the repulsiveness of the Beast. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, showing in a newly restored 35mm print, is ultimately one of the most haunting and dreamlike films ever to grace the silver screen. (1946, 94 min, 35mm; New Restoration) KC

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Chantal Akerman’s NO HOME MOVIE (New Belgian/Documentary)

Gene Siskel Film Center – Check Venue website for showtimes

Chantal Akerman’s NO HOME MOVIE—her last before her untimely death this past October—is a synthesis of the Belgian artist’s most personal work, more specifically the seminal JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAY DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES and the less ambitious but more intimate NEWS FROM HOME. It’s a quasi-documentary about Akerman’s mother in the months leading up to her death—they talk, they laugh, they suppress. It’s formally reminiscent of JEANNE DIELMAN, which Akerman said was “a love film for [her] mother,” as it “gives recognition to that kind of woman.” The likeness is perhaps most obvious in the scenes that take place in the green-tiled kitchen, bringing to mind Delphine Seyrig as she cooked, cleaned, and silently contemplated. At one point, Akerman’s mother says to her other daughter, “She’s never really talked to me,” referring to the filmmaker and recalling her gently pleading letters in NEWS FROM HOME. And finally, near the end, Akerman explains to a housekeeper how her mother fled Poland only to be captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp. Examining topics from the mundane to the meaningful, Akerman uses her avant-garde sensibility to meditate on both a relationship and a lifetime in less than two hours. Much of her work imitated life in all its glorious banality, but NO HOME MOVIE considers life at its most honest and sublime. (2015, 115 min, DCP Digital) KS

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Michael Curtiz’s THE UNDESIRABLE (Silent Hungarian)

Music Box Theatre – Thursday, 7:30pm

Hollywood stalwart Michael Curtiz (whose career there stretched from the mid-1920s to the early 60s) is something of a minor conflict in cinephile circles: some (a minority, but still…) claim him as a clear auteur; others find him a solid, creative director whose films exhibit stylistic flair but not a consistent signature style that would push him into the auteurist camp. (I’m in the second group, though I like Curtiz immensely). Either way, it’s hard to argue against DOCTOR X, MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, CASABLANCA, MILDRED PIERCE, and WHITE CHRISTMAS (among others). This screening, though, moves back, past his prolific U.S. career, to the near-beginnings of his also prolific Hungarian, and then more general European, career. Curtiz’s first film dates from 1912; THE UNDESIRABLE [A TOLONC] was shot just two years later, and released in 1915. Long thought lost, a complete print was found in the basement of the Hungarian House in New York City in 2008 and was repatriated to Hungary, where it underwent recently-completed restoration. Based on a folk play by Ede Tóth, and featuring Mari Jászai, one of the leading Hungarian stage actresses of the day, as the protagonist’s mother, the film is an important record of these two celebrated national figures. The narrative is a bittersweet drama of a young woman who ventures to the city for work after her country uncle (whom she was raised believing was her father) dies. Parallel are scenes of the girl’s mother, who has just been released from prison for killing her abusive husband. There’s romance, sentimentality, a bit of comedy, wrongful accusations, a converging of the two storylines, discovery, tragedy, redemption, more romance, and resolution (all in an hour!). It’s a fine film, sensitive in its subject, mostly restrained and naturalistic in its performances, but it does not exhibit the flair of Curtiz’s later work; rather than the considered use of lighting, camera angles, and camera movement he’d be known for, Curtiz relies on mostly static long-shots that prioritize the photogenic rural landscape and small village settings and the regionally-authentic costuming. Mise-en-scene wins out here. THE UNDESIRABLE is not a rediscovered masterpiece, but, still, it is a fascinating and important document in Hungarian cinema history, in Curtiz’s career, and as an effective and emotionally engaging example of early feature filmmaking outside of Hollywood and Western Europe. Live musical accompaniment by Dennis Scott. (1915, 66 min, DCP Digital; New Restoration) PF

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John M. Stahl’s BACK STREET (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Sunday, 7pm
Between 1932 and 1935, director John M. Stahl filmed three enormously prestigious melodramas that would later be eclipsed in film history by their remakes: BACK STREET, IMITATION OF LIFE, and MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION. Stahl’s current reputation as a Douglas Sirk prototype is primarily the result of their each filming versions of the latter two films, although as storytellers the two had quite different preoccupations. Sirk’s narratives were driven by the heft of accumulated words and gestures, whereas Stahl’s characters often pass through their narratives episodically, obsessed with rebuilding instead of preserving an emotional momentum. BACK STREET involves a three decades long love affair in which the romance is rarely seen as pleasurable, but instead as a series of false starts and small heartbreaks. Irene Dunne plays the kept woman (or “back street” woman) of John Boles, whose obsession with the man keeps her from pursuing her passions elsewhere. John Flaus’ article on the film for Sight & Sound argued that the film marked a retreat from expressionism, but it is actually among the most attractive and expressionistic of pre-Code melodramas. Shot by Karl Freund with Charles D. Hall serving as art director, it bridges the gap between the early-1930s Universal horror films and melodramas, encouraging high contrast visuals, deep stagings, and an evocative use of off screen space. For a melodrama, very few close-ups are used, and tellingly the most memorable of which is a still image of a telephone as pained voices inform the drama off screen. Stahl and Freund occasionally indulge camera movements not motivated by the action—a memorable establishing shot introduces a turn-of-the-century Cincinnati beer garden—and, in one of the stronger scenes, Stahl makes the wistful choice of filming a highly charged reunion with the lovers facing away from the camera. If Stahl’s method of dramatizing this masochistic affair does not offer the visceral pleasures expected of its genre, it sustains an indelibly melancholic atmosphere. (1932, 93 min, DCP Digital) EF

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Abbas Kiarostami’s REPORT (Iranian Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Monday, 7pm (Free Admission)
One of the rarest films in Doc’s Abbas Kiarostami series is the early, pre-Revolution feature REPORT, about which little has been written in English. In the 2003 book-length study of the director she wrote with Jonathan Rosenbaum, Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa describes it as “a stark, realistic film that reflects the bleak, mundane life of a government employee alienated from his job, from the social life around him, and from his wife. Mr. Firuzkhui, the main character of the film, gets fired from his job, and following a few domestic disputes with his wife that culminate in her suicide attempt, leaves her behind in the hospital.” Rosenbaum describes it as Kiarostami’s “most unpleasant film as well as the only one in which his project of ethical self-inquiry comes up short: it’s a provocative yet unsuccessful work informed and no doubt confused by its autobiographical elements. Specifically, its depiction of a disintegrating marriage—made around the same time that Kiarostami’s marriage was disintegrating and after both of his sons were born—seems to be a mainly unconvincing effort to make this rift register as a reflection of contemporary society.” Even if REPORT is a failure (which would make it one of very few in Kiarostami’s filmography), the insights it may provide into the director’s life and work make it a must-see for fans of this master filmmaker. (1977, 112 min, DVD Projection) BS

Note: This film replaces the previously scheduled EXPERIENCE, also by Kiarostami.

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Composites: Short Films by Gina Telaroli (New Experimental)

Beguiled Cinema and Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) – Wednesday, 8pm (Free Admission)

Gina Telaroli’s work falls into two distinct groupings: found footage videos that appropriate material from, primarily, Golden Age Hollywood films (1930s-60s) and live-shot loose “narratives” that rely heavily on improvisation. Two feature films and the 2015 short COMPOSITES (which shows in this program) fall into the later category. The majority of the works in this show are found footage videos, and two stand out. AMUSE-GUEULE #2: MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD (2012) is structurally very simple: Telaroli plays the same excerpted sequence from King Vidor’s 1940 film NORTHWEST PASSAGE forward and backward, superimposed on top of each other. Our ability to make sense of the narrative is disrupted, until about half way through when the bulk of the forward-running dialogue comes in. Lacking an initial narrative anchor, we’re forced to focus on the rich visual and aural textures that are created, which become increasingly mesmerizing as the fourteen-minute running time rolls on. 4’8 1/2” (2011) takes a completely different approach to its appropriated footage. Here, Telaroli combines clips of train scenes from dozens of films, creating if not a meta-narrative at least a video with a definite narrative propulsion. Various similar content is grouped together—sleeping, passing landscape shots, dining car scenes, fight scenes—creating a catalog of “train movie tropes” and allowing for a progression of tonal and emotional registers. Also showing are STARTING SKETCHES #1-12 (2013-14), a series of short (ranging from fifteen seconds to four minutes) run-throughs of composited film images made for the 2015 video SILK TATTERS but not included in the final work. As stand-alone pieces showing separate from the finished film, they’re perhaps too fleeting and insubstantial (they would play better immediate before or after SILK TATTERS, which was likely omitted from the show as it played in the Onion City festival last month; unfortunate, as it is also my favorite of Telaroli’s work that I’ve seen). PHYSICAL INSTINCTS: DEAD RINGERS (2012) includes, among other material, footage from the David Cronenberg film referenced in the title. I found it too scattered, lacking the focus of the two above videos. And, though I quite liked Telaroli’s semi-improvised, quasi-narrative/documentary/essay train feature film TRAVELING LIGHT (2011), I really couldn’t make any headway with COMPOSITES (2015), which riffs on themes and narrative strategies in Jacques Rivette. Despite these closing reservations, the first two works are more than worth attending for. (2011-15, approx. 63 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) PF

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Roots & Culture (1034 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents 10th Anniversary Film/Video Screening Celebration with screenings at 5:30 and 8pm on Sunday, and a reception in between. The two approximately one-hour screenings will feature work screened at R&C from the past ten years. Some of the artists included are: Steve Reinke, Paul Nudd, Jim Trainor, Gwyneth Anderson, Jared Larson, Scott Wolniak, Deborah Stratman, Melika Bass, Lilli Carré, Robert Chase Heishman, Chris Sullivan, Soheila Azadi, Andy Roche, Pizza Dog, Latham Zearfoss, Lyra Hill, Eric Patrick, Mike Lopez, and Kent Lambert.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago continues performances of Teatrocinema: Historia de amor (Love Story), a live theater event incorporating 2D and 3D video projection, Friday-Sunday. 

The Chicago Latino Film Festival opens on Friday and runs through April 21. Complete schedule at

The Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (CIMMFest) opens on Wednesday and continues through Sunday, April 17. Complete schedule at

The Sci-Fi Spectacular takes place on Saturday at the Patio Theater (6008 W. Irving Park Rd.). Screening are: A TRIP TO JUPITER (Segundo de Chomón, 1909; Noon), THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (Eugène Lourié, 1953; 12:10pm), GALAXY QUEST (Dean Parisot, 1999; 1:45pm), WEST WORLD (Michael Crichton, 1973; 3:45pm), short film block and 1-minute fake ’50s Trailer Competition (5:30pm), FOOD OF THE GODS (Bert I. Gordon, 1976; 6:20pm, with Gordon in person), BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, 1982; 8:20pm), BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (John Carpenter, 1986; 10:30pm), THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (Nicolas Roeg, 1976; 12:15am). All Digital Projection.

Black Cinema House (7200 S. Kimbark Ave.) screens John M. Stahl’s 1934 film IMITATION OF LIFE (116 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Friday at 7pm; and Self + Otherness: Student Screenings, a program of works from the BCH’s film production workshop, is on Sunday at 4pm. Both events free admission.

Block Cinema (Northwestern University) screens Jonas Carpignano’s 2015 film MEDITERRANEA (107 min, DCP Digital) on Wednesday at 6pm. Free admission.

Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.) screens Benoît Jacquot’s 2012 French film FAREWELL, MY QUEEN (100 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday at 8pm as part of the monthly Dyke Delicious series. Social hour at 7pm. The program repeats on Tuesday at 6:30pm (no social hour) at Columbia College (Hokin Hall, 623 S. Wabash).

Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Naomi Kawasi’s 2015 Japanese film SWEET BEAN (113 min, DCP Digital) plays for a week; Marianne Lambert’s 2015 documentary I DON’T BELONG ANYWHERE: THE CINEMA OF CHANTAL AKERMAN (67 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday and Monday at 8:15pm, Saturday at 5:15pm, and Wednesday at 6:30pm;

Robert Mulligan’s 1972 film THE OTHER (98 min, 35mm Archival Print) is on Saturday at 5:15pm and Tuesday at 6pm, with a lecture by Pamela Robertson Wojcik at the Tuesday screening; and screening in the Asian American Showcase are SONS OF HALAWA (with the short MELE MURALS), PEOPLE ARE THE SKY, CHANGING SEASON: ON THE MASUMOTO FAMILY FARM, and GOOD OL’ BOY. Check the Siskel’s website for details and showtimes.

Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Jared Hess’ 2004 film NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (96 min, 35mm) is on Friday at 7 and 9pm and Sunday at 1:30pm; Adam McKay’s 2015 fllm THE BIG SHORT (130 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday at 3:30pm; Fernando de Fuentes’ 1936 film VÁMONOS CON PANCHO VILLA (92 min, 35mm) is on Tuesday at 7pm; Philippe Garrel’s 2013 film JEALOUSY (77 min, DCP Digital) is on Thursday at 7pm; and Danny Boyle’s 1996 film TRAINSPOTTING (94 min, Blu-Ray Projection) is on Thursday at 9pm

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Atom Egoyan’s 2015 film REMEMBER (94 min, DCP Digital) opens; Ciro Guerra’s 2015 film EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (125 min) continues; Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival (Digital Projection) is on Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9:30pm; The Juggernaut Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Film Festival (Digital Projection) is on Saturday at Noon; Matthew Barney’s 2014 film RIVER OF FUNDAMENT (350 min—showing in 3 parts, DCP Digital) screens Sunday-Thursday; Ron Underwood’s 1990 film TREMORS (96 min, DCP Digital) is on Sunday at Noon, with an introduction by University of Chicago/Field Museum PhD student Tim Sosa; and John Landis’ 1978 film NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE (109 min, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 7pm, as par of the “Is It Still Funny?” series, with critic Mark Caro.

Facets Cinémathèque plays Guillaume Nicloux’s 2015 French/Belgian film VALLEY OF LOVE (92 min, Unconfirmed Format) and Tim K. Smith’s 2014 documentary SEX AND BROADCASTING: A FILM ABOUT WFMU (78 min, Unconfirmed Format) for week-long runs; and Travis Mills’ 2016 film DURANT’S NEVER CLOSES (80 min, Unconfirmed Format) screens once on Monday at 7:30pm, with Mills in person.

The Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) screens Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2015 film THE REVENANT (156 min, DCP Digital) on Saturday at 2 and 7:30pm. Introduced by local filmmaker Reid Schultz; Jazz Forum is on Tuesday at 1 and 7:30pm, with short films featuring the Modern Jazz Quartet, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and the Paul Bryant Quintet; and Henry King’s 1956 musical CAROUSEL (128 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm. Free admission for all screenings.

The Park Ridge Classic Film Series at the Park Ridge Public Library (20 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge) screens Hal Roach and Charles Barton’s 1947 Abbott and Costello comedy BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME (77 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 7pm. Free admission.

The Goethe-Institut Chicago (150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 200) screens Yasemin Samdereli’s 2011 film ALMANYA – WELCOME TO GERMANY (95 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6pm. Free admission, but RSVP required: (312) 263-0472 or




Deadly Prey Gallery (1433 W. Chicago Ave.) continues Lady Deadly: Women of the Ghanian Mobile Cinema, a show of Ghanaian movie posters that “portray ‘strong’ female characters,” through April 14.

The Art Institute of Chicago presents Dennis Oppenheim: Projections through May 30. On view are three slide-projection works: 2000’ SHADOW PROJECTION (1972), GROUND GEL #2 (1972), and POLARITIES (1972).




Chicago Public Library screenings: Due to the frequency of late-additions (past our deadlines) and to their frequent inability (due to licensing restrictions) of publicly listing the titles of films they are screening, we will no longer be listing specific CPL screenings. Check their website for any films that may be showing.

The Patio Theater and the Portage Theater calendars have been confusing and constantly shifting—adding and removing events with little notice—and reportedly have been unexpectedly closed for scheduled events. We will no longer attempt to list any screenings there.



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CINE-LIST: April 8 - April 14, 2016


CONTRIBUTORS / Kian Bergstrom, Kyle Cubr, Max Frank, Patrick Friel, Eric Fuerst, Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Darnell Witt


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