2009, Havana Marking, USA/Afghanistan, 82 min.
“Havana Marking’s uproarious, awareness-raising documentary tells us more about the title country than a month of newscasts…should be compulsory viewing for every liberty-lover.”--Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
A sleeper hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won both Best Director and the Audience Award, AFGHAN STAR tells the inside story of a phenomenon every bit as mind-blowing as Susan Boyle’s rise to Internet fame. In an Afghanistan recently freed from the Taliban, the equivalent of American Idol has become the national obsession. Two men and two women make it to the finals, and the country’s first baby-steps into democracy involve voting for their favorites via cell phone. The excitement is at fever pitch; then one of the female contestants performs an unthinkable, horrifying, death-defying act: she lets her head-scarf slip a bit and dances on national TV. In English, Pashtu, and Dari with English subtitles. Sneak preview courtesy of Zeitgeist Films. AFGHAN STAR opens for a Chicago run later this summer. DigiBeta video. (BS)
Saturday, June 13, 8:00 pm
Filmmakers in person!
THE FORCE AMONG US
2007, Cristian Macht and Cortney Macht, USA, 85 min.
On the eve of the Film Center’s tribute to George Lucas, the Chicago-based brother-and-sister filmmaking team of Cristian and Cortney Macht take us deep inside the world of STAR WARS fandom. Sociology profs ponder the phenomenon, Joseph Campbell is name-checked, Christian parallels are explored, the 501st Legion of costumed stormtroopers converges at a convention, and the Machts follow fans on pilgrimages to the original movie locations in Tunisia and Norway. Along the way, they discover that STAR WARS fans are a varied and unstereotyped lot about whom no blanket generalizations can be drawn--except, perhaps, a universal dislike for Jar Jar Binks. Beta SP video. (MR)
Filmmakers Cristian Macht and Cortney Macht will be present for audience discussion.
Friday, June 12, 8:00 pm
Tom Huang in person!
WHY AM I DOING THIS?
2009, Tom Huang, USA, 120 min.
With Anthony Montgomery, Tom Huang
Director/actor Tom Huang’s background in improv shows to advantage in this satire on slacker ambition that spins around the travails of two actor roommates attempting to leverage themselves out of Hollywood’s casting ghetto. African American Lester (Niles), meter-maid by day, stand-up comic by night, juggles a cougar mom and an agent with his eyes on the wrong prize, while Chinese American Tony (Huang) impersonates Spider Man for kids’ parties and wheedles grudging family handouts while waiting for his big break. HD-CAM video. (BS)
Director/writer/actor Tom Huang will appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
Sunday, June 14, 3:00 pm
Monday, June 15, 8:00 pm
Filmmakers in person!
2009, Ben Steger, USA, 85 min.
LEFT FIELD began as a free-wheeling documentary covering the party-animal lifestyle of Chicago’s Humboldt Park-based adult kickball league, centering on the Fighting Cocks, the most fun-loving and wildly unorthodox team of them all. When a freak accident puts their popular and gregarious leader K.C. Haywood in a coma, the team rallies in support of his girlfriend Sarah, and the film evolves into a moving chronicle of the ways in which these diverse urban strangers choose to become family. HD video. (BS)
Director Ben Steger and producer Chris Batte will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.
Sunday, June 14, 5:30 pm
Monday, June 15, 6:00 pm
Onion City Festival
Opening Night Program
1961-2009, Various directors and nations, ca. 90 min. total
The Opening Night Program of the 21st Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival, a production of Chicago Filmmakers, features an exciting and diverse line-up of work. Apart from COSMIC RAY, all are Chicago premieres:
HORIZONTAL BOUNDARIES (2008, USA, 23 min.): Pat O’Neill explores the geography of California though a dynamic range of optical effects.
DE TIJD (2008, The Netherlands, 9 min.): Colorful, computer-generated abstract forms move through subtle transformations in this breathtaking film by Bart Vegter. Live musical accompaniment by White/Light.
ELEMENTs (2008, USA, 7 min.): A delicate and haunting landscape film from Julie Murray.
FALSE AGING (2008, USA, 15 min.): Using cut-outs and music from Lou Reed, John Cale, and others, animator Lewis Klahr creates a mini pop-operetta of surprising emotional depth.
COSMIC RAY (1961, USA, 4 min.): A kinetic masterpiece, shown in tribute to the late Bruce Conner.
UNE CATASTROPHE (2008, Switzerland, 1 min.): Jean-Luc Godard shows the power of the miniature with this tiny cinematic gem, showing in 35mm.
NIGHT SIDE (2008, USA, 4 min.): Rebecca Meyers provides a lyrical glimpse of the nocturnal world.
MY TEARS ARE DRY (2009, USA, 4 min.): A Southern-California homage to Bruce Baillie’s classic All My Life, by Laida Lertxundi.
Plus additional films to be announced! For the entire Onion City schedule, visit www.chicagofilmmakers.org. Various formats. (Patrick Friel)
Tuesday, June 16, 8:00 pm
Chicago theatrical premiere!
Filmmakers in person!
THE AMAZING TRUE STORY OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK LEGION
2009, John Iltis and Bruce Bendinger, USA, 47 min.
Billed as “the most amazing story you never heard,” ACCIDENTAL ARMY uncovers the fascinating history (long suppressed by the Soviets) of how an unlikely army of Czechs and Slovaks fighting both for and against the Russians in World War I played a crucial role in the birth of the Czechoslovak nation. Among the ingredients in this stranger-than-fiction saga are the trans-Siberian railway, the only naval battle in Czech history, a crucial rally in Pilsen Park, a boxcar containing the Czar’s gold, and a University of Chicago professor who became the first president of Czechoslovakia. The heart of the film is an eye-popping stash of rare archival photographs, many of which have not been seen for nearly a century. In English and Czech with English subtitles. DigiBeta video. (MR)
Filmmakers John Iltis and Bruce Bendinger will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.