Chicago Guide to Independent and Underground Cinema
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:: Friday, MAR. 20 - Thursday, MAR. 26 ::


Pedro Costa's HORSE MONEY (New Portuguese)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Friday and Monday, 6pm

Pedro Costa reaffirms his position as one of contemporary cinema's finest filmmakers with his first fiction feature in eight years, a hypnotic masterpiece that examines the African immigrant experience in the director's native Portugal. HORSE MONEY is a sort-of sequel to 2006's COLOSSAL YOUTH in that Costa again takes the elderly Cape Verdean immigrant known only as "Ventura" as his subject, although here Costa uses the retired construction worker's haunted visage to more explicitly examine the scars left by his country's twin bloody legacies of fascism and colonialism. Ventura, lit and framed to alternately resemble Darby Jones in I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE and Woody Strode in SERGEAN RUTLEDGE, spends much of the film wandering the halls of a dark, prison-like hospital while ruminating on a lifetime of painful memories. Costa boldly melds past and present by having the reason for Ventura's stay explained as both the "nervous disease" that causes his hands to shake uncontrollably and the knife fight with a fellow immigrant that required 93 stitches from 40 years earlier. Although HORSE MONEY is passionately concerned with social issues, there is a thankful absence of editorializing here: one powerful sequence involves a Cape Verdean woman reading aloud birth and death certificates that belong to herself and her family, letting the objective facts of marginalized lives speak for themselves, and another features a montage of static shots of African immigrants simply staring into Costa's camera from inside their cramped Lisbon homes while the rousing song "Alta Cutelo" by the band OS Tubaroes plays on the soundtrack. The film's indelible highlight, however, is an extended climax in which Ventura angrily confronts his demons in an elevator, conversing with the voices in his head while a soldier holding a rifle behind him looks on in silence. This "exorcism," a scene that appeared virtually intact in the omnibus film CENTRO HISTORICO, leads to a cathartic finale in which Ventura leaves the hospital and is greeted by a rosy-fingered dawn. A final shot, however, shows the character staring at knives in a store's display window (perhaps a subconscious visual quote from Fritz Lang's M) suggesting that, decades after the "April Revolution," the real revolution has not yet begun. (2014, 103 min, DCP Digital) MGS
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David Robert Mitchell's IT FOLLOWS (New American)
Music Box Theatre - Check Venue website for showtimes

Who hasn't had a dream where you're being chased? You run, and you run, and you run, but there's just no getting away. This is the premise for David Robert Mitchell's nightmarish psychosexual film IT FOLLOWS. The film evokes memories of 1970s and '80s teen slasher cinema, such as FRIDAY THE 13TH and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, in which sex often has horrific consequences. Just five minutes in and it's easy to tell that IT FOLLOWS is not a typical trip to Camp Crystal Lake. Mitchell's minimalistic approach to horror is fiercely and brazenly original while also being downright scary to watch. His use of the 360-degree pan leaves the viewer in a state of endless disquiet, mimicking the characters' constant fears of what could be just over their shoulders. No scene feels safe because terror could be lurking just around the corner or off frame, to be revealed with a simple turn of the camera. Forget blood, guts, and monsters; the simple sight of another human being has never been so effectively terrifying. The origins of the follower are intentionally never explicitly established; the open question of what "it" truly is adding to the film's pervasive dread. Day or night, it does not rest and stalks its prey like a manic bounty hunter. The film offers many striking visuals, juxtaposing the urban decay of Detroit against Michigan's beautiful wilderness and lakefront coastlines. A haunting, lingering synthesizer score by Disasterpeace (Rich Vreeland) further bolsters the film's otherworldly ambiance and harkens back to the movie's 1970s/80s thematic ancestors. IT FOLLOWS was one of this year's Sundance Film Festival's darlings, and for good reason; it's a nightmare brought to life. Post-screening discussions at select screenings with members of the Chicago Film Critics Association. Check the MB website for details. (2014, 100 min, DCP Digital) KC
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Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's 5 BROKEN CAMERAS (Contemporary Palestinian Documentary)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Tuesday, 6pm

This collaboration between Palestinian farmer turned video journalist Emad Burnat and Israeli documentarian Guy Davidi is a powerful, straightforward piece of agit-prop filmmaking about the encroachment of the West Bank Wall into the Palestinian village of Bil'in and the protest movement that sprung up in response. Burnat initially buys a camera to document the early childhood of his youngest son, but as things escalate in Bil'in and clashes with the Israeli military become a daily occurrence, he turns into the de-facto chronicler of the resistance. Burnat's footage gives us an incredible insider's view into the workings of a grassroots protest movement from its inception to its (partial) victory. "When I film I feel like the camera protects me..." Burnat narrates as he films his brother being carted away in an army vehicle, "but it is an illusion." And indeed, during the five years in which he follows the protests, Burnat's illusion is smashed: he endures beatings, arrests, bullets, and the death of friends. As the title suggests, Burnat's cameras take a beating as well and the filmmakers have chosen to use the camera casualties as a structuring principle for the documentary. This conceit ends up distracting a little from the heart of the story, and there are some other aesthetic missteps as well--in particular, the narration can sometimes veer into cliché. Ultimately though, as a political tool and a portrait of a village joining together in the face of occupation, 5 BROKEN CAMERAS is extremely effective. SAIC professor Daniel Eisenberg lectures. (2011, 94 min, DigiBeta Video) ML
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Sam Wood's A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am

The most famously inconsistent movie ever made, the Marx Brothers' first vehicle at MGM alternates some of their most beloved comic set pieces with a dreadful love story done entirely straight. While there's plenty of superfluous plot in THE COCOANUTS (1929) or MONKEY BUSINESS (1931), the Brothers were free to walk all over it in those films, stepping in front of the speaking players, throwing props and the like while the rest of the cast carries on as though nothing was wrong. These moments still feel liberating because they remind us how arbitrarily rules are assigned to entertainment; anyone with enough chutzpah, the Paramount movies imply, can reinvent them as they please. (This idea would lay the foundation for Jacques Rivette's CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING [1973], though Rivette would lack the Marx Brothers' genius timing.) Comic anarchy safely isolated from the narrative, the Brothers seem as though in captivity, but there are still enough sidesplitting moments to make this worthwhile, especially in a crowded theater. (1935, 96 min, 35mm) BS
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Tommy Wiseau's THE ROOM (Cult Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Friday, Midnight

A woman announces, "Well, the results came back - I definitely have breast cancer," and that's the last we ever hear of it. A group of men don tuxedos for no apparent reason and then toss around a football. A drug dealer threatens to kill someone and then disappears for the rest of the movie. Upon awaking, a man picks up a rose from his night table, smells it, and throws it on top of his sleeping girlfriend. A recurring rooftop "exterior" is obviously a studio set, with a backdrop of the San Francisco skyline digitally composited behind the action. Accidental surrealism can be even more potent than the conscious kind, and THE ROOM is some kind of zenith of its type, the equal to anything Ed Wood committed to celluloid. Although what's on screen looks like it cost about $14.99, the actual budget was upwards of $6 million, in part because actor/producer/writer/director Wiseau shot simultaneously in 35mm and HD (supposedly he didn't understand the differences between the two formats). Now the film has become a worthy successor to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, with enthusiastic fans performing a series of rituals at each screening. Ross Morin, assistant professor of film studies at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, calls it "one of the most important films of the past decade. Through the complete excess in every area of production, THE ROOM reveals to us just how empty, preposterous and silly the films and television programs we've watched over the past couple of decades have been." (2003, 99 min, 35mm) RC
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Rithy Panh's THE MISSING PICTURE (Contemporary Cambodian Documentary)
Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) - Wednesday, 6:30pm

Without pictures, audio, or any other kind of recordings, one man must rely on his own personal memory to tell a tale that a majority of the Western world has no knowledge of. Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh re-enacts the Khmer Rouge takeover of his country during his youth through the use of clay figures. The political takeover, reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the sixties, included the 're-education' of children born to intellectuals and artists and calls for an entirely self-sufficient country. Panh's personal experiences are shown to the audience only as far as the hundreds of hand-carved clay dolls will allow. The filmmaker never appears; only his voice is heard narrating his memories. Interspersed with the figurines is the limited existing news and documentary footage of the time, which gives a broader sense of Cambodia during this three-year period. Propaganda from Pol Pot's regime put forward a tale of a well-fed, educated nation, but the director's own story paints a far different story, one similar to accounts of atrocities from Holocaust victims. The use of hundreds of dolls to detail the plights of famine, torture, and grief is perhaps odd, but it isn't that different in practice from using human performers to portray a historical scene: both are distanced from the actual event, and it's the director's handling of the figures or the actors that allows for engagement with the subject. And yet, with the inanimate clay dolls cut away and painted to represent a mostly forgotten time, a haunting image is produced that may create a longer-lasting impression than more conventional documentary strategies. Followed by a panel discussion. (2013, 92 min, DCP Digital) SW
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Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi's WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (New New Zealand/American)
Music Box Theatre - Check Venue website for showtimes

Once upon a full moon, vampires were considered to be pure horror. With Bram Stoker's original Dracula, Bela Lugosi's 1930s and 40s Universal films, the iconic German expressionist film NOSFERATU, and Carl Theodor Dreyer's VAMPYR, their gothic mythology was firmly rooted in the collective conscious. These immortal creatures of the night relied on charm, sexuality, and dark magic to enchant and lure their victims. Over time, filmic (and other popular culture) representations of vampires strayed from the original formula, delving into comedy, romance, science fiction, and more. All of these varieties inevitably led to the ill-conceived TWILIGHT and its unavoidable sequels. The vampire film had reached a point of stagnation. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS breaks free of this vampire-moribundity, and is also one of the most original and refreshing comedies in recent memory. This mockumentary combination of The Office meets LET THE RIGHT ONE IN meets The Real World satirizes what life would be like for a vampire living today, dealing with the mundane aspects of contemporary urban life. SHADOWS dares to asks such questions as who's going to clean the dishes, what clothes should vampires wear to the club, and is a human an appropriate plus one to bring to an undead masquerade ball. The answers play out in droll, hilarious fashion, aided by FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS' Jermaine Clement and Rhys Darby, who dazzle as two of the bloodsucking flatmates. Bram Stoker may be rolling over in his grave seeing what has transpired since his vaunted masterpiece, but for the viewers, SHADOWS rewardingly proves that there is still blood left in the veins of the vampire movie. (2015, 86 min, DCP Digital) KC
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The Conversations at the Edge series at the Gene Siskel Film Center presents Soon-Mi Yoo's 2014 documentary SONGS FROM THE NORTH (72 min, DCP Digital), on Thursday at 6pm, with Yoo in person.

The Nightingale and Constellation (3111 N. Western Ave.) present UK-based The Otolith Group's THE RADIANT (2012, 64 min, HD Projection) and PEOPLE TO BE RESEMBLING (2012, 22 min, HD Projection) in the monthly Run of Life Experimental Documentary series on Monday at 7pm. Preceded by Jack Behrend's amazing 1961 industrial documentation film BABBIT RESERVE MINING BLAST (9 min, HD Projection) which will be accompanied by minimalist synth improvisation by Nick Broste, Kent Lambert, and Seth Vanek.

Trunk Show presents Jennifer Reeder for Trunk Show at The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) on Tuesday at 7pm. Trunk Show is an invitational curation project in which artists design a bumper sticker. The event will include the unveiling of Reeder's sticker along with a mix-tape Reeder has assembled of her video work.

The Logan Square International Film Series at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Once More for the Very First Time // ACRE TV at Comfort Station on Wednesday at 7pm. Curated by Kate Bowen. Featuring work and excerpts from Chaz Evans, Bonnie Beusch, Dao Nguyen, Kera MacKenzie and Andrew Mausert-Mooney, Daniel Bennett, Leslie Rogers, Alive in the Kitchen, Joseph Hering, Thad Kellstadt, Tiffany Funk, Chris Little, Cameron Gibson, Eric Watts and Josh Duensing, Danny Volk, Joseph Hering, Marianna Milhorat, Michael Rae, Charity Coleman, Jon Chambers, Jesse Malmed, and Anna Ialeggio, Mark McCloughan, Ellen Nielsen, and Leslie Rogers. Free admission.

Transistor Chicago (3441 N. Broadway St.) presents Thomas Arslan's 2010 German film IN THE SHADOWS (85 min, DVD Projection) on Saturday at 8pm. Free admission.

The Peace on Earth Film Festival continues Friday-Sunday at the Chicago Cultural Center. Free admission.

Black Cinema House (7200 S. Kimbark Ave.) presents the shorts program The Divine Feminine on Friday at 7pm. The screening features work by Allana Clarke, Cqqchifruit, Precious Davis, Ayana Evans, NIC Kay, Tameka Norris, Kenya Robinson, and Amina Ross and will be followed by a panel discussion with select artists and program curator Rashayla Marie Brown. Free admission, but limited seating; RSVP at

Chicago Filmmakers presents Lisa Cholodenko's 1998 film HIGH ART (101 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) at Doc Films (University of Chicago) on Saturday at 4pm, as part of the monthly Dyke Delicious series; and later on Saturday, at Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.), it's the Juggernaut Film Festival, a sci-fi shorts festival, at 8pm. It repeats on Wednesday at Columbia College (Hokin Hall, 623 S. Wabash Ave.).

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein's 2014 documentary AN HONEST LIAR (90 min) opens; Mary Dore's 2014 documentary SHE'S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE'S ANGRY (92 min, DCP Digital) continues; Nick Broomfield's 2014 documentary TALES OF THE GRIM REAPER (110 min) is on Tuesday at 7:30pm (free admission, but required RSVP at the MB website); Kenneth Branagh's 2011 film THOR (115 min) is on Sunday at 1:30pm, with a talk by North Park University Scandinavian Studies professor Anne-Marie Andreasson-Hogg; Dan Fogelman's 2015 film DANNY COLLINS (106 min) is on Wednesday at 7:30pm, in the New York Film Critics series; and Jim Sharman's 1975 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at Midnight. Unconfirmed Formats except where noted.

Facets Cinémathèque plays Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's 2014 film SPRING (109 min, Unconfirmed Format) for a week's run; and completes the In Case of No Emergency: The Films of Ruben Östlund touring retrospective with Östlund's 2008 film INVOLUNTARY (98 min, 35mm) on Saturday at 2 and 4pm (showing with his short AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SCENE NUMBER 6882; 2005, 9 min, 35mm) and his 2004 film THE GUITAR MONGOLOID (89 min, 35mm) on Sunday at 2 and 4pm (showing with his short INCIDENT BY A BANK (2009, 12 min, 35mm).

The Park Ridge Classic Film at the Park Ridge Public Library (20 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge) screens Gregory La Cava's 1933 film GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE (87 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 7pm. Free admission.

The DuSable Museum screens Peres Owino's 2014 documentary BOUND: AFRICANS VERSUS AFRICAN AMERICANS (90 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday at 7pm.

The Goethe-Institut Chicago (150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 200) presents Your Skin Makes Me Cry, a program of German video art works (2011-14, approx. 150 min total, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday at 6pm. Free admission.

The Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) screens three films on Saturday: Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie's 2013 French/Ivory Coast film AYA DE YOPOUGON (83 min) at 1pm; Abderrahmane Sissako's 2014 French/Mauritanian film TIMBUKTU (97 min) at 3pm; and Bruno Boulianne's 2014 Canadian film AN AMERICAN DREAM [Un Rêve Américain] (92 min) at 6pm, with actor Damien Robitaille in person.

The Italian Cultural Institute (500 N. Michigan Ave.) screens Edoardo De Angelis's 2014 film PEREZ (94 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6pm. Free admission.



Chicago Artists Coalition (217 N. Carpenter St.) continues the exhibition Extraordinary Effort, Spectacular Failure through March 26. Included are Lori Felker's 2015 installation (with video) A Trip to Always Falls and her 2015 collaborative video Pylons (with the duo Sebura&Gartlemann), along with work by Liz Gadelha, Wolfie E. Rawk, Nora Renick Rinehart, Jesse Seay, Sebura&Gartelman, and Erin Toale (curator).

Aspect/Ratio Gallery (119 N. Peoria St., #3D) continues a solo exhibition of video, installation, and other work by Marco G. Ferrari through April 18.

Blanc Gallery (4445 Martin L. King Dr.) continues the exhibition Nacelle, a show of video work by Marco G. Ferrari, through May 1.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents German artist Clemens von Wedemeyer's HD video installation Muster (Rushes) (2012). On view February 21 to July 26.

David Weinberg Photography (300 W. Superior St., Suite 203) continues the exhibition Try Youth As Youth, which includes an installation version of Tirtza Even's NATURAL LIFE, plus work by Steve Davis, Steve Liss, and Richard Ross. Runs through May 8.

Threewalls (119 N. Peoria St., Suite 2C) continues Jaime Davidovich: Outreach 1974-1984 through March 21. The exhibition, which features video and television work by the Argentinean artist, is comprised of three programs of work, which will rotate over the course of the show; check for the schedule.

Melika Bass' solo exhibition The Latest Sun Is Sinking Fast, an immersive multi-channel video and sound installation, continues through April 19 at the Hyde Park Art Center (5020 S. Cornell Ave.).



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.

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

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: March 20 - March 26, 2015

Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Rob Christopher, Kyle Cubr, Mojo Lorwin, Ben Sachs, Michael G. Smith, Shealey Wallace, Darnell Witt

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