Special Events

Chicago premiere!
2008, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, USA, 80 min.

“Remarkably lucid...Imagine if John Steinbeck rewrote the script for CHINATOWN.”—Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

“Intricate and compelling...THE GARDEN has all the elements of a John Sayles drama.”—Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and winner of the top prize at the 2008 Silverdocs festival, this engrossing film by Scott Hamilton Kennedy (OT: OUR TOWN) captures the complex workings of inner-city politics with a perceptiveness that few other films, whether fiction or nonfiction, have equaled. Established in the wake of the Rodney King riots, “the garden” was the nation’s largest urban farm—a 14-acre area of South Central Los Angeles cultivated by largely Latino residents that became a powerful symbol of environmental, urban, and racial harmony. In 2004 the city sold the land to a developer at a far-below-market price and ordered the farmers to vacate. As rich and dramatic as any fictional film, the battle that follows involves backroom deals, double-crosses, interracial tensions, movie stars, vivid characters both valiant and venal, and a climax packed with nail-biting deadlines and last-minute reversals. 35mm. (MR)

Saturday, August 8, 5:15 pm
Sunday, August 9, 3:15 pm
Monday, August 10, 6:15 pm
Wednesday, August 12, 6:15 pm

First Chicago run!

2008, Karen Shakhnazarov, Russia, 105 min.
With Aleksandr Lyapin, Lyuda Beletskaya

Winner of two Russian Golden Eagle Awards for Best Director, THE VANISHED EMPIRE sets a nostalgic, bittersweet coming-of-age tale against the rapidly fading background of Russia’s Soviet era. Sergey (Lyapin), an amoral chameleon of a student preoccupied with booze, weed, and rock ‘n’ roll, sells his grandfather’s rare books to buy a Rolling Stones album on the black market for a certain girl of interest. Perpetually chasing Western flash and the ephemeral good time, he lets everything that is true and real slip through his careless hands while his enterprising pal picks up the pieces. Director Shakhnazarov (THE RIDER NAMED DEATH, ZERO CITY) conveys an unerring sense of time and place that extends to the lost world of Sergey’s soul. In Russian with English subtitles. 35mm. (BS)

Saturday, August 22, 5:00 pm
Sunday, August 23, 3:00 pm
Monday, August 24, 6:00 pm
Wednesday, August 26, 6:00 pm

Chicago premiere!
2008, Johan Renck, USA, 102 min.
With Maria Bello, Jason Patric

“Excruciatingly believable…a triumph for the actors.”—Elena Oumano, Village Voice

“Built around a swimming-in-the-deep-end performance by Bello that is the definition of fearless.”—Todd McCarthy, Variety

Kinky sex and forbidden fetishes make DOWNLOADING NANCY a compelling experience for the more adventurous viewer. Maria Bello (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE) takes on the most daring role of her career as a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage who is addicted to cutting herself while savoring a violent Internet relationship with a like-minded partner. One day, Nancy decides to make it all real, abandoning her clueless golf-crazed husband (Rufus Sewell) for a bus ride to what she anticipates as the ultimate and final release at the hands of her virtual lover. Cinematographer Christopher Doyle, famed for his work with Wong Kar-wai, builds the ominous mood with dark and edgy camerawork. 35mm. Note: Recommended for mature audiences only. (BS)

Saturday, August 29, 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm
Monday, August 31, 6:00 pm

Chicago premiere!
Special advance screening!
Cherien Dabis in person!
2009, Cherien Dabis, USA/Canada, 92 min.
With Nisreen Faour, Hiam Abbass

“Enormously appealing…leavened with vibrant energy, balanced politics and droll humor.”—Rob Nelson, Variety

A green card seems like a miraculous pass to a new and more prosperous life for Muna (Faour), a Palestinian immigrant and former bank manager with a teenaged son, but it ends up being the key to a Pandora’s Box in this award-winning comedy-drama. The loss of her savings through a security snafu at the airport, followed by a series of mishaps and job interviews gone wrong, result in Muna landing behind the counter at a White Castle, where her relentlessly positive nature is challenged by the vagaries of American culture and the Iraq War-era biases of Americans. A hit at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, and recently at Cannes, AMREEKA makes the most of Faour’s star turn in a larger-than-life performance. In English and Arabic with English subtitles. Presented in cooperation with National Geographic Entertainment and the Chicago Palestine Film Festival. 35mm. (BS)

Director Cherien Dabis and executive producer Alicia Sams will be present for audience discussion.

Monday August 31, 8:00 pm