Indie Comedy

Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy

From June 17 to 20, the Gene Siskel Film Center teams up with TBS Presents A “Very Funny” Festival: Just For Laughs to present a fresh new selection of comedy shorts and features, including the winning films in our biennial Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy. The Wetzel Award was created at the Gene Siskel Film Center to support independent filmmakers in their efforts to explore the art of comedy on film.

This year, all films entered in the Wetzel competition simultaneously became eligible for inclusion in Just For Laughs, and vice versa. The result is a winning combination that we think will tickle your funny bone. Join us for two “Best of Just For Laughs” shorts programs, prize-winning shorts FCU: FACT CHECKERS UNIT and CURSING HANLEY, and prize-winning features VISIONEERS, GOODBYE BABY, THE BABY FORMULA, MR. ART CRITIC, EATING BUCCANEERS, and CAPERS, with many of the directors in person.

And that’s definitely not all, folks. We kick off this Indie Comedy month with THE ART OF PAIN, made in Chicago, and WHY AM I DOING THIS?

Check our web site www.siskelfilmcenter.org for updates on director appearances, and visit www.justforlaughschicago.com for all the details of
TBS Presents A “Very Funny” Festival: Just For Laughs.

--Barbara Scharres

Established thirteen years ago as the film event of the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, the Just For Laughs Film Festival is an international showcase for comedy filmmakers from all over the world.

The Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy was established through the generosity of the family and friends of Christopher Wetzel. The untimely death of this young filmmaker inspired those who knew him to initiate a memorial that would provide encouragement to other filmmakers, especially those in the early stages of their careers


Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy

Dana Olsen, writer of films including INSPECTOR GADGET, GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, and THE ‘BURBS, and guest juror for the Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy, presents awards to four 2009 winners at the June 18 show. The audience is invited to congratulate the winners and special guests in a reception in our Gallery/Café following the screening.

Chicago premiere!
Filmmakers in person!
VISIONEERS
2008, Jared Drake, USA, 94 min.
With Zach Galifianakis, Judy Greer
FCU: FACT CHECKERS UNIT
2008, Dan Beers, USA, 9 min.
With Bill Murray, Ayad Akhtar, Peter Karinen

First Place Feature winner of $5000 in the Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy, VISIONEERS is set in the monolithic Jeffers corporation, where the company logo tellingly includes an erect middle finger. This futuristic satire follows the nervous travails of George Washington Winsterhammerman, who fears he may be on the brink of succumbing to his era’s leading cause of death for corporate employees: explosion, a condition foreshadowed by the onset of dreams. 35mm.

Preceded by First Place Short winner of $2500, FCU: FACT CHECKERS UNIT. Two hapless magazine fact-checkers resort to breaking into actor Bill Murray’s house to verify a critical detail. HD-CAM video. (BS)

Thursday, June 18, 8:00 pm
Friday, June 26, 6:00 pm

GOODBYE BABY
2007, Daniel Schechter, USA, 87 min.
With Christine Evangelista, Alan Ruck, Gerry Adler
CURSING HANLEY
2007, Kelly Harms, Canada, 16 min.
With James Allodi, Michell Nolden

Second Place Feature winner of $2500 in the Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy, GOODBYE BABY is a drama/comedy set largely in the nocturnal world of Manhattan standup. Her college plans sidelined by the economy, Melissa follows her older brother to New York, where she finds that realizing her dream of breaking into the comedy scene requires an advanced degree from the school of hard knocks. HD-CAM video.

Preceded by Second Place Short winner of $1000, CURSING HANLEY. A man unwisely breaks off his engagement and suffers the consequences of his fiancée’s curse. (BS)

Director Daniel Schechter of GOODBYE BABY and director Kelly Harms of CURSING HANLEY will introduce the Thursday screening.

Thursday, June 18, 6:00 pm
Wednesday, July 1, 8:00 pm


Chicago premieres!
Filmmakers in person!
Best of Just For Laughs Shorts
Program I

2007-9, Various directors, USA/Canada/UK, ca. 85 min.

Kick off the comedy festival with this fresh batch of some of the funniest and most imaginative shorts to come our way: SLEEPING BEAUTY (ISABELLE AU BOIS DORMANT) by Claude Cloutier, 20 min.; ABOUT FACE by Chad Maker, 6 min.; BELOW THE LAW by Richie Keen, 19 min.; BÕRU (BALL) by Russ Wharton, 1 min.; JOHN AND KAREN by Matthew Walker, 5 min.; PSYCHE ON MELROSE by Doug Van Bebber, 12 min.; SMALL THINGS by Matt Bloom, 8 min.; SIGH! by Sacha Baylin-Stern, 5 min.; THE HIDDEN LIFE OF THE BURROWING OWL by Mike Roush, 5 min.; and OPERATOR by Matthew Walker, 2 min. 35mm and various digital video formats.

Some filmmakers are tentatively scheduled to be available for discussion in our Gallery/Café following the screening; visit www.siskelfilmcenter.org for updates.

Wednesday, June 17, 6:00 pm

Chicago premiere!
THE BABY FORMULA
2008, Alison Reid, Canada, 82 min.
With Angela Vint, Megan Fahlenbock

Au courant in its story of a lesbian couple starting a family, THE BABY FORMULA milks humor from the dysfunctional wackiness of relatives from hell. Through some underhanded maneuvers at the research lab where Athena works, they gain access to artificial sperm and impregnate each other, beginning the dual-pregnancy rollercoaster ride that screeches to a halt at Toronto’s Pride Parade. The actual pregnancies of actresses Vint and Fahlenbock make for a plethora of for-real sight gags. THE BABY FORMULA has been awarded Honorable Mention in the Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy. (BS)

Wednesday, June 17, 8:00 pm
Monday, June 29, 6:00 pm

Chicago premieres!
Filmmakers in person!
Best of Just For Laughs Shorts
Program II
2007-9, Various directors, USA/Canada/UK/Switzerland, ca. 80 min.

Discover just what naughty thoughts lurk in the minds of filmmakers in this program with a sexy edge: NEXT FLOOR by Dennis Villeneuve, 12 min.; WHAT’S VIRGIN MEAN? by Michael Davies, 3 min.; LOVE DOES GROW ON TREES by Bevan Walsh, 11 min.; DIRTY WORDS: THE LETTER C by T. Arthur Cottam, 3 min.; MATUMBO GOLDBERG by Rob Pearlstein, 4 min.; THE FETISH EDUCATION (COMME UNE LETTRE A LA POSTE) by Filippo Fillinger, 15 min.; THE OUTLAW EMMETT DEEMUS AND THE PORNO QUEEN by Alex Ferrari, 8 min.; REALITY CHECK! by John Martin, 7 min.; MANOJ by Zia Mohajerasbi, 12 min.; and GIRL PARTS by Erik Gernand, 5 min. Various digital video formats.

Some filmmakers are tentatively scheduled to be available for discussion in our Gallery/Café following the screening; visit www.siskelfilmcenter.org for updates.

Friday, June 19, 6:00 pm

Chicago premiere!
Filmmakers in person!
MR. ART CRITIC
2008, Richard Brauer, USA, 90 min.
With Bronson Pinchot, Toni Trucks

A mean-spirited Chicago art critic gets his comeuppance in the picturesque environs of Mackinac Island when the locals let the hot air out of his Windy City ego. Bronson Pinchot (THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, “The Young and the Restless”) gives a wily performance as M.J. Clayton, a self-absorbed poseur with a few lessons yet to learn about the nature of art when his brash bragging leads to an unwelcome command performance at the island’s annual art festival. MR. ART CRITIC has been awarded Honorable Mention in the Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy. HD video. (BS)

Director Richard Brauer and selected members of the cast will be present on Friday for audience discussion.

Friday, June 19, 8:00 pm
Monday, June 22, 6:00 pm

Chicago premiere!
EATING BUCCANEERS
2008, Bill Keenan, Canada, 88 min.
With Peter Keleghan, Leah Pinsent

The old plane-crash-in-the-wilderness genre gets a very funny reworking when five self-centered advertising executives are downed in the north woods with a case of the client’s chocolate-bar product as their only rations. The predatory Mr. Big, his ex-mistress the yoga nut, the squeamish art director, the come-hither accountant, and the neurotic client having a midlife crisis over his wife’s boob job, test their survival skills in a place where the only blackberries grow on bushes. EATING BUCCANEERS has been awarded Honorable Mention in the Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy. DigiBeta video. (BS)

Director Bill Keenan will not be introducing the Saturday screening as previously schedule. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Saturday, June 20, 4:00 pm
Thursday, June 25, 8:15 pm

Chicago premiere!
Filmmakers in person!
CAPERS
2008, Julian Mark Kheel, USA, 86 min.
With Danny Masterson, Leon, Aysan Celik, Dominique Swain

Three equally inept gangs of criminals, the Sputniks, the Moolies, and the Amateurs, compete with each other to rip off a crafty pawnshop owner whom they believe has squirreled away a fortune just waiting to be grabbed. In a riff on genre conventions, the visual style of the three-pronged plot dizzyingly skids from European art movie to film noir to contempo action as a clutch of ethnic and urban stereotypes are hilariously skewered. HD-CAM video. CAPERS has been awarded Honorable Mention in the Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy. (BS)

Director Julian Mark Kheel and producer/co-writer Brett Halsey will introduce the Saturday screening.

Saturday, June 20, 6:00 pm
Tuesday, June 23, 8:00 pm



June
S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30