Chicago Guide to Independent and Underground Cinema
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:: Friday, SEPT. 19 - Thursday, SEPT. 25 ::


Josef von Sternberg's MOROCCO (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am

Every generation has its own Sternberg. Though he's never been unfashionable exactly, the Sternberg cultists are ignited by the thrill of discovery and a sense of total ownership. The attachment is intense and inscrutably private—a mirror of the emotional space mapped out over and over again in the Sternberg films. Of course archivist James Card would take it upon himself to save THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK—and take almost equal pride in the fact that Sternberg's film was misunderstood by Iris Barry and ignored by the Museum of Modern Art. (In Card's world, they didn't deserve it anyway.) For the first generation of American auteurists, Sternberg represented a oasis of personal poetry in a sea of glassily glossy Hollywood fare convalescing on late nite TV—a posture that provoked critic William K. Everson to complain that "[m]ore and more attention is being paid to the 'rediscovered' classics of the '30s, and I think I shall go berserk if one more film magazine discovers von Sternberg, and does an 'in depth' piece on him ... [O]ne can only assume that the current re-discovers are in their 20s, and, bowled over with youthful exuberance, presume that 'their' discoveries of the values of Sternberg, Sturges, et al. are being made now for the first time." Pauline Kael was aghast when Andrew Sarris decreed SHANGHAI EXPRESS a misunderstood, stealthy serious film in a monograph published by (irony of ironies) the Museum of Modern Art. (Kael contended that SHANGHAI EXPRESS had been correctly understood as slick trash in its day.) BLONDE VENUS, the only Sternberg-Dietrich vehicle dismissed as an outright misfire by the auteurists in the '70s, became an academically respectable text in the whirl of early '90s cinema studies—an essential intersection of motherhood, melodrama, and bestiality. Sternberg's final film, THE SAGA OF ANATAHAN has never received a home video release, but its cinephile (and Cine-File) reputation only grows. Perhaps it will take a generation or two to restore MOROCCO to the top tier of the Sternberg canon. To look upon MOROCCO today, one cannot help but be astonished by its queerness, sexually and narratively. That this movie—with a proudly androgynous Dietrich flouncing around in a tuxedo, the whole thing unfolding with the debilitating slowness of Hou Hsiao-hsien or Tsai Ming-liang—was one of the very most popular attractions of 1930 challenges our received image of the past. It's also notable as one of the few 'exotic' Hollywood productions that doesn't rest upon a fulcrum of embarrassing colonialist triumphalism. (Sternberg isn't much interested in the real Morocco or its citizens, but he didn't seek out the authentic America in BLONDE VENUS, either. Every landscape may as well be rendered in canvas and paper mache—a dream that Sternberg didn't completely achieve until ANATAHAN.) MOROCCO would look modern and forward-leaning in any era. Today it still points the way to something else, just over the sands. (1930, 92 min, 35mm) KAW
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Jennifer Reeder's A MILLION MILES AWAY (New Experimental Narrative)

Conversations at the Edge at the Gene Siskel Film Center - Thursday, 6pm

When “experimental” usually means “non-narrative,” local filmmaker Jennifer Reeder's recent work reminds us that narrative, cinema's most traditional form, can also be subversive, subtle, and ethereal. Weaving elements from teen episodic TV, popular music, and cinematic melodrama, she creates enigmatic studies of women in states of discovery, distress, and change. Reeder, who writes and directs her own work, leaves large parts of her narratives obscured, relying more on a darkly funny, performative present to engage us rather than a progression of plot points headed toward certain resolution. The evening will include her award winning short A MILLION MILES AWAY (2014), about a girls’ choir and their substitute teacher. Also screenings is the sonically ambient and cinematic “The Forevering Trilogy” (SEVEN SONGS ABOUT THUNDER, 2010; TEARS CANNOT RESTORE HER: THEREFORE I WEEP, 2010; and I WILL RISE IF ONLY TO HOLD YOU DOWN, 2011), and a preview of her most recent work, BLOOD BELOW THE SKIN. Reeder in person. (2010-14, approx. 90 min total, Multiple Formats) CL


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Brillante Mendoza’s THY WOMB (New Filipino)

Gene Siskel Film Center - Saturday, 5:15pm and Thursday, 8:15pm

Brillante Mendoza makes films that are difficult to digest; from close-up shots of a woman during childbirth to an unbearably graphic rape and torture scene that ends with the victim being cut into pieces, the Filipino director is known for using abrasive imagery to complement the already transgressive nature of his narratives. THY WOMB opens with the aforementioned birth scene, which is attended by one of the film’s protagonists—an elderly midwife named Shaleha (played by Filipina superstar Nora Aunor) who’s unable to have children of her own. She and her husband, Bangas-An (Bembol Roco), are Bajau “sea gypsies” who live in Tawi-Tawi, a small Philippines island province. Their life is ordinary in every way except that they don’t have kids; reluctant to again adopt a child that will eventually go back to their biological family, they instead decide to find another wife for Bangas-An. The film’s bittersweet plot mostly consists of the couple lovingly trying to raise enough money to afford a dowry, though Mendoza inserts random acts of violence into his picturesque depiction of everyday island life. He also blends the oft-contrived and formulaic representations of local scenery and seemingly extraneous ethnography (too common to many art-house and festival circuit films) into something subtle and unpretentious, mirroring qualities seen in his impoverished characters. In one scene, Shaleha and Bangas-An attend a ceremony in which decorative “spirit boats,” used in Bajau culture to exorcise demonic spirits from the community, are set adrift into the sea; here, a possible metaphorical “casting off” of either Shaleha’s infertility or her negative feelings towards her husband’s impending union. In another scene, the couple attends an authentically depicted Bajau wedding ceremony, but the celebration is momentarily interrupted by the sound of gunshots. Mendoza proves himself adept at providing a detailed portrait of his protagonists and their customs, and also of the desultory violence that permeates their native life. Inherently political, his films cushion their cynicism through striking cinematography or, alternately, through their use of violence that approaches a level of gratuitousness that makes it almost unbelievable. This cynicism is also reflected in his choice of narrative structure; his films are largely episodic and even gestative, often beginning and ending on a similar note within a constrained period of time. THY WOMB opens and ends with babies being born, reflecting the natural and unavoidable outcomes of the characters’ lives just as death is typically used to convey the same sense of fatalism. Mendoza’s 2006 film SUMMER HEAT begins and ends with wedding celebrations; FOSTER CHILD (2007) is about a family that takes in children waiting to be placed with adoptive parents, and focuses on the last day with one of their wards; SERBIS (2008) also takes place over a day in a family’s run-down porn theater. Rather than saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same, it’s as if he’s suggesting things merely stay the same and his films are but brief representations of inescapable, and oftentimes horrific, truth. (2012, 100 min, DCP Digital) KS
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Jane Gillooly's SUITCASE OF LOVE AND SHAME (New Documentary)

Constellation (3111 N. Western Ave.) - Monday, 7pm

There are boundaries of knowing that one chooses not cross. You don't look at your beloved when a nurse is helping them to dress, nor read the email your coworker leaves open, but if the violated privacy is a stranger's, and from fifty years ago… Jane Gillooly’s SUITCASE OF LOVE AND SHAME makes the choice for you: of course you look! Well, in this case, of course you listen. Culled from over 60 hours of found audiotape, SUITCASE exposes the intimate nothings of a love affair between a veterinarian and (presumably) his former secretary. The two lovers are a bit uncanny: Lynchian "golly gees" interpenetrate sexual moans and dissolve back into work complaints with nary a pause. The ricochet between the intensely personal and the prosaic makes the film's effect akin to looking at a strobe light: an emotional queasiness sets in and disorients you. It's an odd viewing experience, and one singularly well suited to experiencing with a crowd: you will want to talk about it, and so will everyone who watches it with you. Showing as part of a new experimental documentary series, Run of Life, co-presented by Constellation and The Nightingale. (2013, 70 min, Digital Projection) CAM
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Fritz Lang's SCARLET STREET (American Revival)
 The Logan Square International Film Series at Comfort Station in Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) - Wednesday, 8pm [Free Admission]
Edward G. Robinson is not merely an actor or performer. He's a force of nature. Much like Jimmy Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson is both character and legend, a metatextual presence who charges the screen space around him. In SCARLET STREET he achieves a kind of nirvana: Playing against type, he's not a ruthless criminal but a meek, kind-hearted amateur painter, easily duped by femme fatale Joan Bennett because she seems to be the first person to pay any attention to him. In films such as LITTLE CAESAR, Robinson guns people down with the offhanded casualness of eating a hamburger; here, he's at the mercy of forces he cannot see or even imagine, and they gradually strip him of everything. We know that coiled deep inside him is the power and violence with which he could save himself. But it's not to be. Robinson is fated to wander the streets, penniless; forced to stare at his own priceless masterpieces, taunting him from art gallery windows with their inaccessibility; and finally, even have his sanity taken away from him. Lang's filmography is stuffed with majestic downers, but surely this is among his most bleak. (1945, 103 min, DVD Projection) RC
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Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival continues through September 25 with 50 screenings at the Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema and Chicago Filmmakers.

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival continues through September 21.

The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Baltimore experimental filmmaker Stephanie Barber’s first feature, DAREDEVILS (2013, 85 min, Digital Projection), on Sunday at 8pm, with Barber in person.

Prak-sis n3w M3dia Art Festival 2014 Vol.3 takes place at the Drake Hotel (note change from previously announced location) Friday-Sunday. Screening on Friday are James Benning’s 1984 film AMERICAN DREAMS (LOST AND FOUND) (58 min, Digital Projection) at 1pm and his 2009 film RUHR (120 min, Digital Projection) at 3pm, and Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik’s 1980-94 film I AM FURIOUS YELLOW (aka WHY IS YELLOW THE MIDDLE OF THE RAINBOW, 174 min, Imported 16mm Print) at 6pm. On Saturday, RUHR repeats at Noon, and Davy Chou’s 2011 film GOLDEN SLUMBERS (96 min, Blu-Ray Projection) is at 2pm, followed by a lecture and round table discussion at 4pm; and on Sunday, GOLDEN SLUMBERS repeats at 1pm, a lecture by Blake Bertucelli is at 3pm, and I AM FURIOUS YELLOW repeats at 4pm. [Note that the previously announced THE ACT OF KILLING is no longer part of the lineup.] More info at

Roots & Culture (1034 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents +Playlist: Soheila Azadi on Sunday at 7:30pm. Local filmmaker Azadi will present a selection of her recent work.

The Chicago Design Museum presents Starts/Speculations in Film: Expanding the Design Conversation on Wednesday at 6:30pm at Block Thirty Seven – Shops on State (108 N. State St.). The screening features films from the Chicago Film Archives, including work by Gary Brown, the Film Group, Goldsholl Design & Film Associates and Rhodes Patterson. Unconfirmed Running Time and Formats.

Accompanying the glitChicago exhibition at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (2320 W. Chicago Ave.) are two events this week: On Friday at 7pm, an evening of media performances will include work by A. Bill Miller, Antonio Roberts, James Connolly and Kyle Evans, Jason Soliday, Jeff Kolar, Joseph Y0lk Chiocchi, PoxParty (Jon Satrom and Ben Syverson), Nick Briz, I ♥ Presets (Rob Ray, Jason Soliday, Jon Satrom), Curt Cloninger, Nick Kegeyan, Shawné Michelain Holloway, jonCates, and stAllio!; and on Saturday at 2:30pm there is a round table discussion looking at glitch art from an art historical perspective.

The Bijou (1349 N. Wells St.) presents PornAgain: a night of video and performance on Thursday at 9pm. More info at

Christian Schwochow’s 2012 German film THE TOWER (DER TURM) (174 min total, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) screens as part of UIC’s “Fall of the Berlin Wall Campus Week” events, showing in three parts. Part one is on Monday at 2pm in the Daley Library, Conference Room I-470, part two is on Tuesday at 2pm, and part three is on Thursday at 2pm, both in the Lecture Center F 6. The Monday screening will be followed at 3 pm by a conversation with Sara Hall, Associate Professor of Germanic Studies at UIC, and Benjamin Benedict, producer of THE TOWER. Free admission. More info at

Gallery 400 (400 S. Peoria, UIC) hosts the Sistah Sinema Chicago presentation of Ryan Richmond’s 2011 film MONEY MATTERS (89 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday at 2pm.

Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Jerry Lewis’ 1961 film THE LADIES MAN (95 min, Archival 35mm Print – reportedly an IB Technicolor Print) is on Friday and Tuesday at 6pm, with a lecture by Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Tuesday screening; Phil Grabsky’s 2014 documentary IN SEARCH OF CHOPIN (112 min, DCP Digital) begins a two week run, with Grabsky in person at the Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday screenings this week; Thomas Allen Harris; 2014 documentary THROUGH A LENS DARKLY (92 min, DCP Digital) plays for a week, with Harris in person at the Friday screening and at the 3pm Saturday screening, at which he’ll be joined by Chicago photographer Dawoud Bey; Goro Miyazaki’s 2011 Japanese anime FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (91 min, DCP Digital) is on Sunday at 3pm (English dubbed) and Wednesday at 6pm (subtitled); and Erik Matti’s 2012 Filipino film RIGODON (85 min, DCP Digital) is on Sunday at 4:45pm and Monday at 8:15pm.

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Stuart Murdoch’s 2014 film GOD HELP THE GIRL (111 min), Terry Gilliam’s 2013 film THE ZERO THEOREM (107 min), and János Szász’s 2013 Hungarian film THE NOTEBOOK (112 min) all open; Ryan McGarry's 2013 documentary CODE BLACK (78 min) continues; Hamish Hamilton’s 2013 documentary DAVID BOWIE IS (Unconfirmed Running Time) is on Tuesday at 7:30pm; Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (118 min, 35mm) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 film THE ROOM (99 min, 35mm) is on Friday at Midnight; and Jim Sharman’s 1975 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at Midnight. Unconfirmed Formats except where noted.

At Facets Cinémathèque this week: the Romanian Cultural Marathon takes place Friday-Sunday, with Stere Gulea’s 2013 film I’M AN OLD COMMUNIST HAG (98 min) on Friday at 9pm (pre-screening party and other events beginning at 7pm), with actor Marian Ralea in person; Tudor Cristian Jiurgiu’s 2013 film THE JAPANESE DOG (86 min) on Saturday at 6pm; and Alexandru Maftei’s 2013 film MISS CHRISTINA (101 min) on Sunday at 8pm (preceded by a live theatrical performance at 6:30pm, short films by local filmmaker Irene Botea at 7pm, and an introduction to author Mircea Eliade by Dr. Thomas Pavel). Also this week, from Monday-Thursday, is Drew Tobia’s 2013 film SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY (82 min). All Unconfirmed Formats.

The Logan Theatre screens David Fincher’s 1999 film FIGHT CLUB (139 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 10:30pm; and Robert Rossen’s 1961 film THE HUSTLER (134 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 10:30pm.

The Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) hosts a benefit event and screening of Theodore Collatos’s 2012 documentary MOVE! (73 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format). Tickets begin at $100.

At the Chicago Cultural Center this week: Susanne Suffredin’s 2013 documentary @home (46 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) is on Monday at 6pm, co-presented by the Illinois Humanities Council and followed by a Q&A with director Suffredin and the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, as well as members of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless Speakers Bureau; IFP/Chicago Presents: 75 Minutes with Joe Swanberg, a conversation with the local independent filmmaker hosted by Chicago Tribune film columnist Nina Metz, is on Tuesday at 6:30pm; and the Cinema/Chicago presentation of Henrik Ruben Genz’s 2008 film TERRIBLY HAPPY (90 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) is on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Free admission.

At Chicago Public Library locations this week: Marissa Aroy’s 2014 documentary DELANO MANONGS: FORGOTTEN HEROES OF THE UNITED FARM WORKERS (approx. 30 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) is on Wednesday at 7:30pm at the Sulzer Regional Branch (4455 N. Lincoln Ave.); and a 2013 romantic comedy by Jerusha Hess (97 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) [legal restrictions prevent the library for making the title public] is on Thursday at 6pm at the Edgewater Branch (6000 N. Broadway St.). Free admission.

The Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) screens François Ozon’s 2002 film 8 WOMEN (111 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6:30pm.


Expo Chicago’s video programs, curated by Astria Suparak, run through Sunday. For the complete lineup and other details visit

The exhibition Edit Road Movie, curated by Kate Bowen, open on Sunday and runs through September 29 at ACRE Projects (1913 W 17th St.). The show includes video installation work by Daniel Luedtke, and Nick Lally and additional work by Katie Hargrave.

Washington Park Arts Incubator (301 E. Garfield) continues the exhibition How To Make A Hood through October 10. Included is "The Hood We Live In," a sculpted 3 channel video installation by Amir George. More info at

SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries (33 S. State St., 7th Floor) continues the show Surface Tension through October 4. Included is Kevin B. Lee’s 3-D version of his video TRANSFORMERS: THE PREMAKE.

glitChicago: An Exhibition of Chicago Glitch Art continues at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (2320 W. Chicago Ave.) through September 28. Work from 24 artists explores glitch across a variety of media.

Bruce Nauman’s 1987 four channel video installation Clown Torture (60 min loop) is on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through September 28.


The Northbrook Public Library film series is on hiatus during renovations at the library. Expected completion is Spring 2015.

The Portage Theatre has resumed occasional screenings (from Blu-Ray/DVD only we believe).

As of July 2014 the Patio Theater is up for sale.

The Northwest Chicago Film Society is again on hiatus for their weekly series, with the closing of the Patio Theater. They plan to do occasional screenings as opportunities arise.

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CINE-LIST: September 19 - September 25, 2014

Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Christy LeMaster, Chloe A. McLaren, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal, Darnell Witt

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