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Home Explore Newcity Chicago October 2019

Newcity Chicago October 2019

Published by Newcity, 2019-09-25 12:55:33

Description: Newcity's October issue features the Film 50, our annual survey of the city's filmmaking world. Film Editor Ray Pride interviews the Film Leaders of the Moment: Kwame Amoaku and Peter Hawley, the new heads of the Chicago and Illinois Film Offices, respectively. Also in this issue: Lee Bey looks to get some exposure for Chicago's south side, the Chicago International Film Festival turns 55, dining is a drag at LIPS Chicago, a spirited defense of Irish whiskey, and more!


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LET’S TAKE THIS OUTSIDE! Bring your films to the parks with Chicago Onscreen, the Chicago Park District’s annual traveling exhibition of Chicago-made films. Accepting Locally-Produced & Chicago-Focused Film Submissions October 14-December 6. SUBMIT YOUR FILM

CONTENTS OCTOBER 2019 OCTOBER 2019 Newcity 8 A NOVEL TRAINING GUIDE ARTS & CULTURE Writers on the run ART 11 SOUTH SIDE BUILDING STORIES The radical hope of the PO Box Collective Paging through Lee Bey’s “Southern Exposure” 54 DANCE 17 AS THE SPIRIT MOVES Architecture mashes up the Dance in \"On Notice” Is Bodhi the community of the future? 59 DESIGN 23 FILM LEADERS OF THE MOMENT A conversation with Malose Malahlela of Keleketla! Library Kwame Amoaku and Peter Hawley 61 are ready to take city and state to the next level DINING & DRINKING A spirited defense of Irish whiskey 27 Pay lots of attention to the person 63 FILM behind the curtain Chicago International sticks (mostly) to the basics at fifty-five 65 LIT A conversation with Carol Anshaw about \"Right After the Weather” 68 MUSIC Post-punk funk apocalypse 70 S TA G E Chicago gets a new drag destination 72 LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL This Teen Dream is a nightmare 74 3

Newcity OCTOBER 2019 This month we celebrate the forces behind Chicago's flourishing film and television industry. Of all our annual Leaders of Chicago Culture lists, it's the one that Jan and I have the most firsthand connection to, as well as the most obvious potential for conflicts of interest: many of these folks engage with us in our other role as film producers. And so we defer to the judgment of the editor of the feature, Ray Pride, to make the list choices and set the order. We do offer some input, naturally, most often in expanding the always-lengthy shortlist of candidates, as well as people to consult for input and suggestions. We do our best to keep our journalistic values apart from our film interests. This month, we'll see these two worlds come together more than ever, as we have a film in the Chicago International Film Festival for the first time. It's the Chicago premiere of \"Knives and Skin,\" and we hope you'll join us for one of our screenings, but if you can't, you can see the movie in December, as we've signed with IFC Midnight to give the film a proper do- mestic distribution. And our foray into filmmaking continues, with \"Dreaming Grand Av- enue\" nearly finished and The Chicago Film Fund, an investment fund to catalyze even more Chicago-centric movies, getting off the ground. The case for empathy, continued. Back in July, Jan wrote an editor's letter about the cul- ture sending messages about the value of empathy. And so it continues as the fall art season kicks into full swing, the message now that increasingly rapid-fire mass media is not taking the time for empathic storytelling and so we must rely on art to fill the void. In Loy Webb's fine new play, \"His Shadow,” at 16th Street Theater, a family of football players grapple with the call of activism against police brutality. Like so many of us who supported the leader- ship of the NFL's Colin Kaepernick and his protest against police violence during the play- ing of the national anthem from the no-risk vantage of the armchair, the play's main char- acter supports activism only in principle until it affects him personally. The play delivers a deeper appreciation for the struggle and the pressures behind players' decisions to risk their careers for a cause, making a case for all of us to forsake the comfort of the chair. The day after Webb's premiere, photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier opened her first Chica- go solo show at the Renaissance Society. \"The Last Cruze,\" an ongoing body of work, doc- uments the way General Motors' decision to \"unallocate\" its Lordstown, Ohio plant—the most Orwellian of euphemisms—threw the lives of its workers into upheaval. It was a story that the national media portrayed as a parable for the Trump era, when the truth was that it was not a political story, but deeply personal. At her artist’s talk at the opening, Frazier observed, \"This country has no empathy. It's apathetic. Because of social media, it's always on to the next story.\" With its power to bridge divides and end disputes, empathy is perhaps the most powerful force for good in the world. The great propagator of empathy is storytelling, whether in film, art, theater or, of course, journalism. We have our marching orders. 4

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CONTRIBUTORS ROBERT RODI (Writer “As the Spirit Moves”) ON THE COVER is an author, spoken-word performer and Kwame Amoaku, RAY PRIDE (Writer “Film Leaders of the musician who has served as Newcity’s Music Chicago Film Office director Moment,” Editor/Writer “Film 50”) 2019 Editor since 2014. He’s written more than a and Peter Hawley, marks his seventh edition of Film 50. Ray dozen books, including the travel memoir Illinois Film Office director is completing a book-length meditation on “Seven Seasons In Siena.” His jazz quintet Photo: Sally Blood Chicago’s “ghost signs,” sampled on Twitter recently completed a two-year residency at Cover Design: Dan Streeting (@ChiGhostSigns). His Instagram and Uncommon Ground, and he regularly hosts Twitter are @raypride. a jazz singers’ jam at Lizard’s Liquid Lounge. Vol. 34, No. 1396 His literary and music criticism has appeared SALLY BLOOD (Photographer, Cover/ in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago PUBLISHERS “Film Leaders of the Moment” and “Film 50”) Tribune, Salon, The Huffington Post and many Brian & Jan Hieggelke is “thrilled to be shooting for Newcity other national and regional publications. Associate Publisher Mike Hartnett again.”  She is an award-winning portrait EDITORIAL photographer and filmmaker, and also an JULIE E. JUSTICZ (Writer “A Novel Training Editor Brian Hieggelke ICG member who shoots stills on sets for Guide”) was born and raised in England, Managing Editor Jan Hieggelke film and TV productions.  You can view her moved to the Bahamas when she was ten, Art Editor Kerry Cardoza work at and then to the United States as a teenager. Dance Editor Sharon Hoyer She earned a law degree from the University Design Editor Vasia Rigou DAVID HAMMOND (Newcity Dining & of Chicago and received an MFA in creative Dining and Drinking Editor Drinking Editor and Writer “The South Shall writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. David Hammond Rise Again”) has lived all over Chicago, on As an attorney and advocate, Julie currently Film Editor Ray Pride Northwest, Near North, West and South Sides. works on civil rights issues in Chicago. She Lit Editor Tara Betts While living in South Side Kenwood, he lives in Oak Park with her spouse, Mary, and Music Editor Robert Rodi marveled at many of the magnificent old their two children. Julie’s debut novel “Degrees Theater Editor Kevin Greene buildings that were crumbling before his eyes. of Difficulty” is being published this month.  Editorial Interns JR Atkinson, He’s thankful that Lee Bey has memorialized, Hayley Osborn and Alexander Tannebaum in text and photos, some of those places, BALDUR HELGASON (Illustrator “A Novel ART & DESIGN many of which may well disintegrate during Training Guide”) is an Icelandic visual Senior Designers Fletcher Martin, our lifetimes but others of which will, thanks artist who lives in Chicago’s Edgewater Dan Streeting , Billy Werch in part to efforts like Bey’s, be around for neighborhood with his wife, and fellow Designers Jim Maciukenas, many years to come. artist, Patty Spyrakos and their two Stephanie Plenner daughters Harriet Selma and Petra Freyja. MARKETING Marketing Manager Todd Hieggelke Chicago Studio City OPERATIONS General Manager Jan Hieggelke Newcity OCTOBER 2019 Celebrating our 40th year in business! Distribution Nick Bachmann, Adam Desantis, Preston Klik, Full service motion picture studio, sound stages and office space. Quinn Nicholson Grip and electric equipment, generators, shops and trucks. Established in 1979. One copy of current issue free at select locations. 773.261.3400 5660 W. Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60614 [email protected] Additional copies, including back issues up to one year, may be ordered at 6 Copyright 2019, New City Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Newcity assumes no responsibility to return unsolicited editorial or graphic material. All rights in letters and unsolicited editorial or graphic material will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and subject to comment editorially. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Newcity is published by Newcity Communications, Inc. 47 West Polk, Suite 100-223, Chicago, IL 60605 Visit for advertising and editorial information.

Classic. By Warhol. This exhibition was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Leadership support of Andy Warhol—From A to B Major support for the Chicago presentation has been made possible by Caryn and King Andy Warhol. Shot and Back Again is provided by Harris, The Harris Family Foundation. Orange Marilyn (detail), 1964. Private KENNETH C. GRIFFIN The Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute of Chicago is the Lead Affiliate Sponsor. Additional funding is collection. © 2019 contributed by the Shure Charitable Trust, Maureen and Edward Byron Smith Jr. Family Endowment Fund, The Andy Warhol Bank of America is the National Tour Sponsor. Constance and David Coolidge, Robert J. Buford, Penelope and Robert Steiner, William and Robin Downe, Foundation for the Cairy and Thomas Brown, Margot Levin Schiff and the Harold Schiff Foundation, Vicki and Bill Hood, and Visual Arts, Inc. / Lauren G. Robishaw. Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Members of the Exhibitions Trust provide annual leadership support for the museum’s operations, including exhibition development, conservation and collection care, and educational programming. The Exhibitions Trust includes an anonymous donor; Neil Bluhm and the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation; Jay Franke and David Herro; Kenneth Griffin; Caryn and King Harris, The Harris Family Foundation; Karen Gray-Krehbiel and John Krehbiel, Jr.; Robert M. and Diane v.S. Levy; Ann and Samuel M. Mencoff; Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel; Anne and Chris Reyes; Cari and Michael J. Sacks; and the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Official Airline of the Art Institute of Chicago.

TraiAninNgovGeul ide Newcity OCTOBER 2019 Writing Tips My first novel took a lot longer. I’ve run more marathons in my from a If I was unprepared for my first forties and fifties, never once Mediocre marathon, I was woefully igno- coming close to the time I set in Marathoner rant about what it would take for Savannah thirty-odd years ago. I me to finish a book. Ten years of have no illusions that I will regain by Julie E. Justicz stops and starts, periods of in- my youthful speed. I doubt I could illustration by Baldur Helgason tense focus, followed by days, run one eight-minute mile these weeks, sometimes months with- days, never mind twenty-six in a avannah, Georgia, January out writing. Pages typed—amaz- row. Maybe this is where the ing, heart-rending prose. The analogy fails: marathoning takes S 1985. Slate sky, a blustery same pages tossed—self-indul- its toll on the joints; age slows wind, cold rain not out of gent dross. Rapid-cycling elation you down. Writing, on the other the question as several hundred and despair, and, of course, per- hand, gets, well, not easier exact- runners huddled at the starting line. sistent procrastination. I washed ly, but more comfortable. Or the My first marathon comprised two and folded thousands of loads of discomfort becomes more famil- loops of flat and unforgiving run- laundry and logged as many iar, almost good company. Most ways at Hunter Airfield, adding up miles of running—lacing up my writers say that you can’t rush; to a foot and mind-numbing 26.2 Nikes when writing got tough, stories will come out in their own miles. I had no idea what I was justifying the time spent on the time. That’s true. But they won’t starting that chilly morning: I went roads as creative composting. come at all if you don’t write. out too fast, too cocky, hit the pro- Years of steady training does pay verbial wall at mile twenty, slowed When I had a complete draft of off—pages written, pages tossed, to a jog, then a creep, and finally the novel, my happiness lasted edits completed, skills developed, hobbled across the finish line. Still, less than a week. I read through a few essentials mastered. I was a fit twenty-one-year-old; my the manuscript and realized I was average pace—about eight-min- a few miles short of the halfway What I learned from my first book utes-fifteen-seconds per mile—was mark. Had I hit the wall? Would I about plot, character develop- decent, bringing me in at three ever finish? ment, voice, narrative structure— hours and thirty-six minutes. weaving threads of the story in, I know I’m stretching the run- cutting out flabby sections—all ning-writing analogy here, but these lessons have stayed with only when I began to write with me. My second novel took five the same discipline and focus that years to complete. Less angst, I applied to running was I able to less drama. It’s easier now for me complete my first novel. Turns out to chop relentlessly, to recognize that for both you need to: (1) show what is not working and to let it up, (2) get going, (3) push through go. Writing every day leads to a uncomfortable spots, and (4) put steady accretion of skills and the in the hours. comforts of any longterm habit; it may even lead to increased speed My first novel was a slow mara- and efficiency—things we don’t thoner—the lone straggler com- usually get as we age. I’m never ing in after the volunteers at the going to get close to completing aid stations had picked the paper a three-and-a-half-hour marathon cups and banana peels off the as- again, but I may get a third book phalt, emptied the mega trash done in the next three years. cans and gone home. But you know what? After wanting to quit many times, I hobbled across the finish line. My book—”Degrees of Difficulty”—comes out on Octo- ber 1, 2019. 8

November 1-3 Opening Night, Oct.31 Navy Pier James Labold, courtesy of Habatat Galleries

ell Monroe, who owns Inn Manor, there are many more public buildings and M the stately Welcome residences, some around a Inn Manor, a Bronze- century-and-a-half old, that ville bed-and-break- in their day were nothing fast, was not happy when in short of magnificent; some still are, and some could be he read the headline at so again. the now-defunct DNAinfo: “City’s Top B&B Closing Be- Bey’s book is a reminder that cause Guests Are Scared of there’s a lot to lose if we con- Bronzeville, Owner Says.” tinue to let the South Side go, allowing buildings to crumble “That’s not what I told the re- until they’re beyond repair, and porter,” Monroe says. “I’m ac- then yielding them to the tually expanding, buying an- wrecking ball, the crushing other place in north Bronzeville, conclusion to a period of dis- but by the time I contacted regard and abandonment. the newspaper, they’d already closed their doors.” Monroe did, however, confirm “Demolition is the end of an SOUTH SIDE that a small number of his act… that starts years earlier BUILDING guests arrive at his Bronze- with civic neglect and disin- ville B&B and, a little freaked vestment caused in no small STORIES out by the neighborhood, part by the institutional racism leave immediately. that always seems to kick PAGING THROUGH in when a neighborhood is LEE BEY’S Monroe didn’t have to say it, predominantly black,” Bey but I’d guess most of those writes. “The city that can ig- “SOUTHERN EXPOSURE” guests who leave are white. nore, write o , marginalize or Fear of the South Side is one devalue a building or neigh- by David Hammond reason why South Side archi- borhood one day can ultimate- photos by Lee Bey tecture, restaurants and cul- ly demolish it the next. And on tural institutions don’t get the the greater South Side—and attention they deserve—peo- the predominantly black West ple, specifically white people, Side as well—important build- don’t get down that way. ings are at risk. Lee Bey’s new book, “South- “How did this enviable collec- OCTOBER 2019 Newcity ern Exposure,” might go some tion of architecture wind up way toward bringing more on the South Side? The answer eyes—and dollars—to the requires a trip back to the southern reaches of Chicago which, as Bey reminds us, s, at the beginning of a is an immense geographic fifty-year era in which the area, making up more than South Side was the engine half of Chicago’s land mass. that drove Chicago, when the “Most of the city is the South South Side was confident Side, a geographic area that’s and powerful enough to host the size of Philadelphia— successful World’s Fairs in twice the size of Brooklyn,” Bey says. “More than , and ; and when the people live on the South Side, area’s industry employed tens a population rivaling that of of thousands of people work- Boston or Detroit. And yet ing shifts around the clock,” Chicago has turned its back Bey continues. “It was when on it—and its architecture— the well-to-do and middle with relative ease.” class were drawn to the hand- some houses and wide, well- In “Southern Exposure,” Bey planned streets built by real focuses on the South Side’s estate developers in neighbor- architectural treasures. In ad- hoods such as Englewood, dition to Monroe’s Welcome South Shore, West Pullman and others. The South Side made Chicago Chicago.” 11

Yale Apartments Pride Cleaners Newcity OCTOBER 2019 THREE MIND-BLOWING YALE APARTMENTS, inscribed on bulging balcony-like overhangs STRUCTURES 6565 SOUTH YALE AVENUE on street-level windows that support sev- en-story windowed columns. This is the kind Bey covers many still-extant South Side ar- Bey believes that in many cases, all it takes of detailing, and the now-vanishing crafts- chitectural landmarks, including homes, is “civic will” to gather and deploy the nec- manship, that make one think, inevitably, that churches, schools, apartment buildings, essary resources to spare an old, distin- “they don’t make them like they used to.” even CTA stations and beach houses. guished, historically significant building from the wrecking crew. Of the Yale Apart- Looking at the Yale Apartments, one is taken “Southern Exposure” succeeds at what so ments, he explains that the majestic yel- in by the rock-solid permanence of the place, many books attempt: it changes the way low-brick building “spent years in derelic- the confident artistry that reflects an un- you see your world. After reading Bey’s tion and abandonment and [was] nearly shakeable belief that this is a building that is book and seeing his photographs that fill wrecked. What a loss, had the building been going to be around for a long time. Thanks, its pages, we were driving east along North demolished… its corners [are] marked by a as Bey puts it, to “the civic will to marshal Avenue toward the city on the equally ne- bold vertical line of bow windows and floral the resources needed,” it will be. glected West Side. I found myself noticing limestone detailing. Inside, seven stories of an interesting cornice here, some exotic apartments face an enclosed light court Civic will is what it takes, a collective ac- Middle Eastern detailing there, an inerest- topped by a skylight. That’s too much beau- tion by a community of individuals. Resur- ing doorway, architectural features I’d driv- ty to wind up as rubble in a landfill. Thanks recting the South Side is going to take en by hundreds of times but that never reg- to a $9.5 million restoration and rehab in more than just an adventurous developer istered in my consciousness. After you read 2003, the building is a city landmark, pro- here and there. “Southern Exposure,” you may never see viding quality affordable housing to seniors, your city in quite the same way. one of the finest looking, surviving 1890s We visited the Yale Apartments as part of the apartment houses in the city. Chicago Architecture Center’s Open House To get a sense of the range of significant ar- Chicago, an annual event open to all who chitectural masterpieces on the South Side, One cannot stand outside the Yale Apart- want to walk inside residential, civic, religious here are three examples from Bey’s book ments and not take in the small touches, ar- and commercial buildings that would other- that illustrate the richness of this gigantic, chitectural details like the exuberant stone- wise be closed to the public. Open House frequently neglected part of town. work, organic vines and majestic scrolls Chicago takes place October 19-20. 12

CHICAGO VOCATIONAL The building will survive. For now. The de- and expected to achieve something out of OCTOBER 2019 Newcity CAREER ACADEMY, clining enrollment points to a problem wit- the ordinary. 2100 EAST 87TH STREET nessed across the South Side: as popula- tions decline, so also do the buildings PRIDE CLEANERS, I spent my childhood years at Portage Park constructed to serve them. Maintaining 558 EAST 79TH STREET school on the Northwest Side, so I’m ac- aging structures is a good thing, but it can quainted with the Neoclassical-Federal- only continue if there is a solid and stable So much architectural inventiveness is fu- ist-style of schools in the Chicago Public population to serve. The paradox is that the eled by the vision of individual entrepreneurs School system. Chicago Vocational High building relies on the population and the who hope to stand out from the crowd with School, now called Chicago Vocational Ca- population relies on the building. The hope places of business that catch the eye and, reer Academy, is where a young Lee Bey is that if you rebuild it, they will come. ideally, the consumer dollar. This is not to di- spent his early years. minish their architectural achievement, and Walking through the front doors of what here and there, businesses take bold steps “About half of its $3.5 million construction was once called the Chicago Vocational to distinguish themselves in the market- cost came from the federal Public Works Ad- School, students must have felt a soaring place and broadcast their specialness, like ministration, and the architecture has that sense of pride and expectation that they the backward “K” on the mid-century Nick- blocky, abstracted, federal modern aesthet- would rise to meet the challenges set be- ey Chevrolet sign, or the gigantic, full red ic,” he writes. “A close look reveals the mod- fore them by the school’s physical impres- Magikist lips that once greeted motorists ernist-limestone bas relief panels showcas- siveness. Learning and academic greatness on the Ike into Chicago. ing the various trades taught there. can take place anywhere, of course, but having a grand setting for your education “One of the most unusual buildings in Chica- “The school system has maintained and re- seems likely to engender grand visions, big go” is how Bey describes Pride Cleaners, a habilitated the building in recent decades. thoughts, pride. Bey recalls in conversation personal South Side favorite of his. “The Unfortunately, the school was built for six that when he was a student at Chicago Vo- spectacular, radically tilted, self-supporting thousand students, but currently has only cational, “we all called it ‘the palace.’ There hyperbolic paraboloid concrete roof touches eight hundred students enrolled… the archi- was a sense that we knew we were going the ground on three sides, then shoots sky- tectural treasure will remain in use, thanks into a special place,” and likely a sense that ward above the main entrance. An architec- to a $75 million redevelopment in 2015.” they, the students, were themselves special tural creation from the Space Age, with a 13

Chicago Vocational School roof pointed toward the heavens—in will lead to gentrification: fresh invest- ability to do that. In the sixties and sev- all of Chicago’s 238 square miles ments can make a declining neighbor- enties, these people sparked urban re- of architecture, there is absolutely no hood more middle-class friendly, but at newal. Now they have to think about all other building like this one… Pride was the same time, the investment may make this in a different way. If we’re doing this as radical as a flashy new 1959 Cadillac— the neighborhood less friendly to those without some kind of equitable interven- tail fins and all—roaring past a row of who are scraping by, barely able to afford tion, what would happen is a rich guy will Model Ts.” rent on places that are literally falling apart. come in who can pay $200,000 for a house in Bronzeville and then put anoth- Newcity OCTOBER 2019 Many times, as is the case with build- When new money comes in to fix up old er $700,000 into it, and eventually their ings by Frank Lloyd Wright, the artistic buildings, we applaud the fact that wor- neighbors get pushed out. That’s not vision is powerful but the engineering thy works of architecture are saved. The what this city ought to be about.” expertise “needs work.” (In Oak Park we consequences, alas, could be that those have heard many stories about who’ve been living in relatively low-cost Lee Bey will give a presentation on Wright-designed flat roofs that leak and housing for decades may be squeezed “Southern Exposure,” with photos, walls that crack.) out. I ask Bey about investment and the problems associated with gentrification. at the Newberry Library on October 23, Designed by Gerald Siegwart, Pride “City officials, banks, insurance compa- 6-7:30pm. Free tickets are required. Cleaners is, amazingly, still in operation nies—the same people who in the past as a dry-cleaning business. Although tar- conspired to create an undervalued nished by age and use, this Eisenhow- housing market in black communities— er-era masterpiece reflects the post-war have to say, ‘Look, we want this to be a period when the sky was the limit and all viable and economically balanced city of us felt we were moving onward and for everyone,’ which traditionally was the upward to greater things, fulfilling bigger role of cities,” Bey says. “It was suburbia dreams, reaching for the stars. that excluded people for reasons of eco- nomics, race and ethnicity; cities, in the- SAVING WITHOUT ory, were the opposite of that. GENTRIFYING “Developers, bankers, city officials and To preserve crumbling architectural trea- others have to sit down and decide what sures of the South Side, money must be they want to do. These entities have the invested. The threat, though, is that this 14

HOMEGROWN CHICAGO BLUES TALENT MON, OCT 14, 2019 • 7PM JOHN PRIMER 2019–2020 PERFORMANCES CAFÉ LOGAN OCTOBER 2019 Newcity JOHN PRIMER DOKTU RHUTE MUZIC at the Logan Center for the Arts Mon, Oct 14, 2019 • 7pm Mon, Mar 9, 2020 • 7pm 915 E 60th St Chicago, IL 60637 Presented by the Logan Center and Billy VANCE KELLY NORA JEAN BRUSSO Branch Music, with the support of the Mon, Nov 11, 2019 • 7pm Mon, Apr 13, 2020 • 7pm 773.702.ARTS Jonathan Logan Family Foundation and The Reva & David Logan Foundation. DEITRA FARR DONALD KINSEY loganUChicago John Primer. Photo: Mike Grittani WITH MATTHEW SKOLLER Mon, May 11, 2020 • 7pm Mon, Jan 13, 2020 • 7pm Free parking is available at the Logan GILES COREY BLUES BAND J. W. WILLIAMS Mon, Jun 9, 2020 • 7pm Center all weekend and Mon–Fri after 4pm. 15 Mon, Feb 10, 2020 • 7pm FREE admission

Logan Center Family Saturday: Masks and Movement Sat, Oct 5 2- 4:30pm FREE Masks have traditionally been used as a form of disguise—and celebration. Join us as we uncover the mystery behind masks and see how they can connect to various forms of art and movement. Logan Center Appropriate for families with 773.702.ARTS for the Arts children ages 2-12. Registration is 915 E 60th St encouraged. Free parking in lot at LoganCenterCommunityArts 60th and Drexel.

by ROBERT RODI The transformation of “a multi-racial, intergenerational, queer-affirming, non-religious, pro-woman OCTOBER 2019 Newcity community in Athme emriocsat.” Lola Wright of Bodhi segregated city in Center /Photo: Christine Ciszczon Photography 17

It was a career milestone for Reverend Lola Wright. She deliv- rector. In 2014, Lord left the organiza- ered a talk at TEDx Chicago on May 1, which put the seal on her tion; he’s now senior minister and spir- arrival as one of the city’s thought leaders. She used the oppor- itual leader at Unity of Naples Church tunity to trumpet her success at Bodhi Spiritual Center, of which in Florida. It seemed clear to everyone she is both CEO and spiritual director. “I have created, alongside that Wright was best poised to replace incredible human beings,” she declared, “a multi-racial, inter- him; everyone, that is, except Wright generational, queer-affirming, non-religious, pro-woman com- herself, who struggled with the decision munity in the most segregated city in America.” to put herself forward. When she finally offered herself for consideration, the Newcity OCTOBER 2019 Three weeks later, Wright’s triumphal had spent years working through the board said, “We’ve just been waiting for pronouncement was rocked by a bomb- trauma he experienced as a member you to make up your mind.” shell: after three years of holding its of the Catholic Church. His goal for the Sunday “celebrations” at the Vittum Center was to cater to people whom the As spiritual director, Wright took over Theater in Noble Square, Bodhi’s lease big-box religions had failed—to, in his addressing the Sunday celebrations on the space was not renewed. Just over words, “heal their guilt, shame, overcome that had become the cornerstone of two months down the road, as of July fear and get in touch with the love that’s Bodhi community life. She’s naturally 31, the organization would be—not already inside of them.” The Center orig- theatrical, grabbing the mic from its homeless, exactly; it maintained office inally operated out of an annex space of stand and working the stage like a pan- and classroom space across the street the now-defunct Transitions Bookstore, ther, punctuating her points with grand, from the theater. But there would be no and succeeding years were charmingly expansive gestures. But any danger of place for its community—whose size itinerant, with residencies at Agassiz El- grandiosity is undercut by her chatty, can only be estimated, but is at least a ementary School and Apollo Theater conversational style, and by a willing- few thousand strong—to assemble. Chicago, before landing a dedicated ness to illustrate the travails of seeking space in the United Church of Christ personal transformation with self-dep- Wright, a self-described “change junkie,” complex. Along the way, the organization recating examples from her own expe- refuses to be daunted. True, this was a changed its name to Bodhi Spiritual Cen- riences on what she wryly calls “Planet significant disruption to Bodhi’s momen- ter—though it owed no more to Bud- Lola.” This deft weaving of revival-tent tum; but “disrupt” is a word she uses fre- dhism than to any other faith or belief intensity and standup-comic relatabili- quently—and approvingly. She sat down system—and picked up Lola Wright, who ty wasn’t only disarming; it was a dis- and shot a video to reassure community in 2004 wandered in, looking for a Sun- tinct advantage in persuading first-time members. “If you are an organization that day ritual for her family more substantial visitors to become regulars. is about transformation, but you do not than going for ice cream. evolve,” she said, leaning into the camera Wright’s personal charisma wasn’t all with a smile that seemed almost eager, “I attended for many years under the she brought to Bodhi’s top spot; take her “you are not about transformation.” It radar,” Wright says. “In 2006 I started encouragement of its musical growth. wasn’t her pithiest maxim—this is a taking classes here; then in 2009 I left. I From its beginnings, the organization woman who spins phrases like prayer was a community member who had re- had attracted musicians, but under wheels—but it did the trick, soothing ally been served by this place, but I didn’t Wright the Bodhi band really began to anxieties over the loss of the Vittum. intend on coming back. In 2012, I re- flower—due to such strategic moves as turned to re-engage in the community. hiring celebrated jazz and funk vocalist But succeeding videos, in which Wright And one of the things that shifted for me: Typhanie Monique as music director. detailed her evolving vision for the or- three years before, I’d left with a series Under Monique’s successor, Ameerah ganization’s next “expression,” were of critiques about this place. And when Tatum (who in addition to heading up a more challenging than comforting. “I’m I returned Mark Anthony Lord said, ‘I love sextet of singers, also wields a cowbell imagining it could include podcasts,” the idea of you coming back; just know like a sonic Howitzer), the band has con- she riffed; “I’m imagining it could in- all the critiques that you had in 2009, re- sistently raised the roof with material clude live events and experiences. I’m main unresolved. I just want you to be from sources as varied as Katy Perry and imagining it could include pop-up ex- sober about that.’ And I really was clear Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s a reflection of periences throughout the city of Chica- with myself that if I wanted Bodhi to be Wright’s own fierce connection to music. go, across the nation, perhaps even other than it was, I had to get out of a “My spiritual awakening didn’t come from around the world.” transactional relationship with it. Like, going to Catholic school,” she confides; ‘Bodhi has to do this to satisfy me.’ If there “it came from A Tribe Called Quest’s 1993 She seemed to be imagining almost ev- was something I wanted, I had to take album, ‘Midnight Marauders.’” erything but a new, physical location. In responsibility for the creation of it—first fact, Lola Wright was broadly hinting that in consciousness, then in form.” Wright’s most significant contribution has Bodhi Spiritual Center might not need a been the expansion of the organization’s replacement for the Vittum Theater at all. Wright joined the staff as director of demographic palette. As she noted in her youth and family, which had been an TEDx talk, any given Bodhi gathering cov- Chicago Center for Spiritual Living area of specific criticism for her. Over ers the generational, racial and sexual was founded in 2003 by Mark Antho- the succeeding years, she served in spectrum. When I asked her how she ny Lord, a gay spiritual leader who other capacities, including executive di- managed this, her response was surpris- ingly simple and cleanly persuasive: “Peo- ple have to be represented in leadership. I have been very diligent about making sure that we don’t just have a diverse pop- ulation of people in our consumer base, but that they’re actually represented at every level of the organization.” 18

One of her most visible additions to the Ameerah Tatum ploratory mission ended up turning into plains, “said, ‘We don’t want a weekly OCTOBER 2019 Newcity leadership staff is executive assistant of Bodhi Center/ an ongoing relationship with the com- commitment. We want to be open to Jaye Ratio, through whom the introduc- Photo: Christine munity. “I thought, ‘I’ve gotta stick programming, and if you’re here week- tion of non-gender-specific pronouns for around. If they’re able to have a money ly, that gets in the way of that, despite non-binary individuals (they/them/their) Ciszczon conversation like this, what other con- the fact that you think it’s great for us became standard practice at Bodhi. It Photography versations are they having?’ And I’ve to have recurring income’—’cause proved a learning curve even for an or- just continued to find her breath of truth that’s sort of been my pitch.” And there ganization that was founded on LGBTQ to knock me over every time. [Lola] is was another roadblock: “People don’t inclusion. “Not just straight people, even just the straightest, most direct and want anything that even sniffs of reli- queer-identified people, if they were of a honest communicator I’ve witnessed in gion in their space. And currently our certain generation, couldn’t get it,” a very long time. She’s a white, female entire website is like, ‘Bodhi Spiritual Wright says; but she remained, as ever, Barack Obama, frankly… She has the Center!’ ‘Prayer!’ ‘Sacred Circles!’” determined. “There are big, strategic ef- same skills that he does.” forts that we can make to have that be a Wright is a believer that this kind of feed- priority, and then there are micro-level Jessica Malkin, CEO of Chicago Ideas, back, which might be taken as negative choices that are highly intentional that knows Wright only through her work on or discouraging, is actually a gift, in that demand or provoke that.” that organization’s brain trust; but she it forces you to accommodate and adapt. echoes Lewke’s assessment of her. “She She responded by pulling away from Wright’s boldness and idiosyncratic has a vulnerability about her, and an overtly spiritual branding—to the point of style drew attention; and some of it, at openness that I think is just chemical. removing the word itself from the Bodhi least initially, was professional. Tyler It’s something that few people embody; Spiritual Center’s name. “I firmly believe Lewke of Blue Lotus Temple says, “I run but when they do, it means they have that there is a way to retain the essence a pretty large network of Buddhist tem- the ability to architect and host dia- of what we do and the power of what we ples across the United States and Asia, logues, conversations that a lot of peo- do, and evolve linguistically in a way that and the big discussion, to summarize it, ple just can’t. It’s just sort of a natural actually speaks to more people. Bodhi is is that the dharma is free, but the rent gift that she has.” a Sanskrit word that means ‘to awaken.’ is not… So I walked into Bodhi, frankly, If you know anything about spiritual tra- on a mission just to explore how various Wright’s initial reflex on learning of dition, you’re basically saying, ‘spiritual leaders manage that tricky combination. the coming loss of the Vittum was center’—without saying, ‘spiritual center.’ And I was mesmerized by Lola. I thought to re-create the same model else- But if you don’t know—gotcha!” that her ability to ask for money and to where; and she began negotiating have that frank and honest conversation with other performance spaces in An even more profound response to the with people, was the most courageous town. But it wasn’t an easy sell. “Ev- lack of interest from performing venues, way I’d ever seen it done.” Lewke’s ex- eryone that we have talked to,” she ex- was to question whether a weekly gath- 19

Newcity OCTOBER 2019 ering was even serving Bodhi’s community. constructs haven’t shifted in the last thousand There was considerably more enthusiasm for the There was sufficient evidence to make an argu- to two thousand years. But it’s not because monthly live podcast, which Wright presented ment to the contrary; principally the group’s fi- there isn’t something wanted.” as being at rotating venues around the city and nances. “There are thirty people who are under- possibly even the suburbs. “If you could have a writing sixty percent of this operation,” Wright The epiphany made Wright feel almost physical- Tuesday evening that had music, meditation, a says, “while there are thousands of people en- ly lighter. “What we’ve been doing feels like monologue, an interview, a comedy sketch, all joying this operation.” The cost of putting on ‘Groundhog Day,’” she says. “I’m ready for some- in the realm of transforming and awakening,” she each celebration was $100 per seat, per Sunday. thing new and different; and I think our support- said, “that to me sounds incredibly compelling, And increasingly, seats had been going empty; ers are, too. They may not even know it. I think and transformational. It’s like Stephen Colbert not because Bodhi’s popularity was waning— there’s just an itch.” meets ‘SuperSoul Sunday’ meets Phil Donahue rather the reverse. Bodhi had begun sharing the meets ‘In Living Color.’” Her effervescence didn’t celebrations on Facebook Live, and then stream- She approached the problem like “a design chal- diminish even when Rhodes quipped, “Does any- ing them on their website; with the result that lenge,” and ideas started sparking. Finally, on one know who Phil Donahue is?” they were reaching a much wider audience—but July 21, after the penultimate Sunday celebration, also that a lot of regular attendees now chose to Wright held a meeting in the organization’s of- The following Sunday—Bodhi’s last at the Vit- watch from home. And there was an additional fice space—co-hosted by Sutkus and Bodhi’s tum—Wright introduced Tyler Greene, whom downside to that, as explained by Abigail Sutkus, board president, Eileen Rhodes—where she re- she’d just hired as creative director, specifical- Bodhi’s coordinator of community engagement: vealed the result. “Our intention is to do a live ly to facilitate the new monthly series. Greene “People online aren’t giving at even the level peo- audience podcast one night per month,” she ex- comes to Bodhi with an extensive track record ple in the room are giving.” plained, “and then to record a podcast that drops of managing and producing live events for both once per week; to do classes and workshops in broadcast and podcast, including the launch of And people in the room weren’t giving much. Just the same way that we do; to do events in the WBEZ Podcast Passport. a few weeks before the Vittum pulled the plug, same way that we do… but all of those things Bodhi had run a three-week fundraising drive are going to have a cost to them—except for the Wright concluded her valedictory celebration called “100 x 100,” which asked its community podcast, which is inherently free.” address by noting that, “Bodhi is not a Sunday “for your partnership in raising $100,000 by tak- experience. Bodhi has had a Sunday experience. ing your one hundred percent responsibility.” Everything that Bodhi does will have an upfront Bodhi is an infinite idea and the universal mind The drive was successful; but the loss of the Vit- price-tag now; members can choose to partici- that is a portal for possibility expressed through tum made the victory pyrrhic. pate on a pay-as-you-go basis, or gain broader each of us. That does not change because Sun- access by becoming a “Founding Contributor” days go away. So I ask you, if you love this place, While Bodhi continued to look for a new space, through an annual lump sum. A roster of giving if this place matters, whether it is your first time, some community members urged Wright to con- levels was provided, beginning at $3,600, each it is your final time to hold in the high altar of sider building a dedicated space—a Center for with its own slate of benefits. The announcement consciousness that places and spaces that af- Consciousness that the organization could own caused a discernible stir in the room, but before firm the wholeness of humanity remain avail- and inhabit. Wright has professional experience it could coalesce into resistance, Wright stressed able, that that actually matters. That I would be in both real estate and finance—and had put that that no one would ever be turned away for lack willing to organize myself such that that re- expertise to use for Bodhi before, successfully of funds. Some form of reciprocity was required, mains available for people. That’s what this suing United Church of Christ to recover the however—for instance, enlisting as a volunteer. place exists to be about. And I hope that you’ll $750,000 worth of capital improvements that choose to join us on this next iteration of the Bodhi had made in the facility (and which It was a codification of the directive Wright had journey. Many blessings.” prompted the organization’s move to the Vittum). given herself, when she returned to Bodhi after The idea of a Bodhi building was initially attrac- her three-year hiatus: no one would be allowed And then the final Bodhi Center Sunday cele- tive to Wright, until she gave it more serious re- to make demands on an organization that they bration played out with the entire staff and crew flection. “I actually feel very confident in my ca- weren’t willing to take ownership of. There invited onstage to dance as the band threw pacity to raise the amount of money that a would be no more coaching from the sidelines. down Sly & the Family Stone’s “Thank You building like that would take,” she explains. “But “What we’re not going to have anymore,” Rhodes (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” I have a complete unwillingness to go to my net- amplified, “is people coming up and saying, works outside of this community to raise the nec- ‘Bodhi should be this.’ Well, you’re Bodhi. So In August, Bodhi Center cut its final ties with essary funds, only to see the giving levels that what are you going to do about that?’ It’s scary, its old neighborhood by moving its admin- exist in this community continue. I have a big, fat and it’s exciting.” istrative and classroom facilities to Reunion no to that. What—so you can sit here and get fat Chicago, an event space and project incu- and happy while I bust my tail in my relationships The members in attendance seemed buffeted bator at 2557 West North. to give you a place you’re unwilling to contribute by the sheer scale of the change. Clearly many to? No!” The Bodhi she wanted to see was less were expecting a softer reinvention. But Wright’s The first monthly event in Bodhi’s new iteration bricks-and-mortar, and more cloud; less CEO- years of advocating openness to change and takes place on October 22 at Schubas Tavern, driven and more egalitarian. embracing accountability had prepared them 3159 North Southport. Lola Wright will host, with for this moment. The prevailing attitude was Ameerah Tatum and the band; special guests And it seemed increasingly clear that there was best expressed by a member who said, “I was will include artists from Chicago’s hip-hop, com- one radical way to turn in that direction. “I was originally feeling a little resistant about the edy and performance communities. “At the end attracted to Bodhi because it wasn’t church,” money, because I thought that this payment of the day,” says Tyler Greene, “we want to wake she explains. “And as I’ve evolved personally, I effectively buys me access into a community people up to the world around them, and simul- have desired Bodhi to evolve more and more without any particular accrued or tangible ben- taneously calm them down so that they can be away from that paradigm.” Which meant: no efits that I know at the end of the year I’m going present to their lives.” more weekly celebrations. It was a break with to reap. But now I’m thinking about this differ- a tradition that, Wright realized, had become a ently; perhaps if I see this money as skin in the chokehold. “We’ve seen innovation in every in- game, I’ll have an intention that’s clearly set, so dustry. We’re exploring artificial intelligence, ro- that I work to reap those benefits. So really, I’m botics, flying cars, immunotherapy. Religious investing in myself.” 20

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FILM LEADERS OF THE MOMENT Were you able to get a running OCTOBER 2019 Newcity start? Peter, you’ve been in the job by RAY PRIDE since May, and Kwame, since July. Photos by SALLY BLOOD Christine Dudley was at the Illinois Film Office since 2015, and Rich oth the Illinois Film Office and Chicago Film Office got new bosses Moskal was at the Chicago Film Office in 2019, with filmmaker-teacher Peter Hawley stepping in for the for twenty-three years. Are you state and Chicago film veteran Kwame Amoaku taking the reins at the close to making the job your own? local office. As they talk about their jobs, the pair almost sound like they’ve worked together for years, which, in ways they elaborate on in our conver- AMOAKU: The job is twofold. There’s the sation, they have. We spoke in early September in an artifact-packed hid- mechanics of what has to happen in the den-away aerie at the Cultural Center. permit office, permitting all these films and projects, from student films to major motion pictures. They all have to go through a process that is pretty intricate; it involves a lot of city entities signing off all these agreements and whatnot. But there’s also the cultural development of the film industry itself, which is a totally different track, so it’s a lot to do for one person, or one office. I’m glad that we [he and Hawley] have the relationship there; we could tag team on these big-picture things that we’re looking at. He has to administer the tax credit; I have to put out permits. But at the same time, we have to look at the larger pic- ture and figure out how we can better the process. HAWLEY: We think very similarly about Illinois and Chicago film business and industry and how we would like it to grow and what we would like it to be and there is certainly a cultural aspect to it. It’s making Chicago and Illinois a great place to make films, see films as part of the arts world, but it’s also about build- ing infrastructure, which is stages, more crews, developing the workforce. When are you crewed out? It isn’t just locations and bricks and mortar. It isn’t just a community getting along and sharing their dreamy dreams and storytelling, it’s simply, are there enough people to sustain the needs of a growing industry? HAWLEY: That’s almost the first ques- tion I get when Hollywood calls. What’s your crew situation like, are you all booked up, I hear you’re all booked up, things like that. We’re fighting the per- ception, and we’re working hard to build the workforce. AMOAKU: People underestimate the depth of the crews here and the capac- ity that they have to make high-level projects. It’s for us to make sure people understand that they can come here and get their stuff done, there’s enough crew and infrastructure. 23

Newcity OCTOBER 2019 HAWLEY: More crew people are seeing in terms of producers hoping to make three or four other people to act. Our that there’s consistent work here, so this city look different or strange? hands are tied. Intellectually, I knew it, but they’re not like, oh, once this show’s over, I wasn’t expecting it. I’m done. There’s nothin’ else coming. AMOAKU: I’ve got some requests, one par- They’re seeing that pilot season rolls ticular request, to shut down a portion of AMOAKU: Everyone was kind of like, you’d around and two or three more shows will a commercial district and convert it to the be really good for that, and I started think- come. It’s consistent. I mean, we’re grow- ing, maybe I would, just based on the ing, we’re not plateauing, we’re certainly s, with dirt roads and wood planks amount of experience I have, and the not going down. That keeps them here. and horses and buggies, all that. It’s chal- amount of di erent jobs that I’ve held in That will also allow people to move to town, lenging in a working city to make that hap- the business. I’ve been on both sides of to move to the state. pen, it’s not a backlot. the camera, as an actor, as a procurer, a location manager, a production manager, AMOAKU: Within the tri-state area, they’re That would be building upon assistant director. I started out as a pro- starting to come here and set up roots. We existing architecture, akin to duction assistant and worked my way have these episodic shows, which create Quentin Tarantino’s Hollywood through the system. It allowed me to enter sustainability for them, for jobs. They end Boulevard in “Once Upon a Time…”? into a lot of di erent areas: commercials, up getting apartments here, taking homes music videos, major motion pictures. It here, spending money in the state of Illi- AMOAKU: Correct. Exactly. Using what al- gives me a unique perspective, and it al- nois. We want to draw people from other ready exists, which is a lot of that architec- lows me to work with these production places and make them Illinois residents. ture. Being able to exploit that architecture companies in a way that somebody who Illinois is a much better place to shoot than and turn it into period pieces is definitely didn’t have that experience couldn’t really Canada! I think as for Canada, the crew on an asset that we have. understand the language they were speak- both sides of the call sheet, the front of the ing, the shorthand. It gives me an advan- call sheet especially, they would say they HAWLEY: “Fargo” was looking at shutting tage, but also, I love the city. Genuinely. I would rather be in the States. They would down a section of the central business have a genuine love for the city and I have rather be in a city like Chicago than Win- district of Blue Island, lock stock and barrel, a genuine love for the film community here, nipeg or Toronto or Vancouver. because it’s early-twentieth-century looking. I feel like it’s been a family to me. It’s sup- ported me. I raised my kids… When tragic HAWLEY: There are very real di erences, Did this seem like a “dream job” things happen in my life, it’s the film indus- Chicago versus Toronto. Our exteriors look before you began and now, a few try that’s come to my support. It’s a family di erent! There’s a major TV series coming months after starting, does it seem a air, and this is a way for me to pay back here that’s just about to start filming, that like that or something else? everything the film business in Chicago will be on next year that was looking at a [Even heartier laughter] has done for me. I feel like an evangelist, variety of cities, including Toronto. The issue I’m preaching the gospel, I can reach and they had was Toronto doesn’t look like early HAWLEY: You want to go first on that one? touch a lot of people and make a lot of pos- twentieth-century Midwest at all, and they [Both laugh] itive things happen for everybody. But then had a large amount of African-American ex- I ran up against the bureaucracy! I realized tras and cast members and they would What most people see is the that it’s not like production work, where have to import that cast to Canada, which evangelism for the state and the we see something and we just do it, we didn’t have a look that worked. city, negotiating the outrageous make it happen. The whole “make it hap- location work, but there are tax pen” thing, “make it happen” is a little dif- AMOAKU: It’s the variety of neighborhoods incentives, permits, paperwork, ferent here. It’s taken some adjusting to, and whatnot. I mean, here, you have very a less “magical” side. but I’m learning. It’s like being on another urban environments, you have the Gold planet and having to learn a whole alien Coast environment, you have the beach, HAWLEY: I have known the last several language and customs.… I worked with you travel outside the city, you have rural, State of Illinois film o ice directors, and I’ve Rich a lot in my career, and I learned from you can go into the deepest forest or the liked them. I’ve known Betsy Steinberg for him over the years, the careful balance be- cornfields… You can tell your story a bunch a decade, I knew Christine Dudley, I knew tween the community and what we do in of di erent ways that Canada can’t o er. Brenda Sexton, who preceded Betsy. I al- the film business. And how to make that ways thought it was a really interesting job, balance work. HAWLEY: You’re talking about cornfields, a job that worked with my skills. Workforce forests, that sort of stu , I think we’ve seen development, that’s what I was as a college HAWLEY: You find the middle, you make an uptick in shows that were going to go film teacher for years. I’m a filmmaker, I the middle. to Georgia coming here now, because you thought I could do a good job. Then I got can look at—Well, the reason, of course, is into the job, and it was a surprise to me, AMOAKU: When you’re in the business, all the “heartbeat bill,” their “heartbeat bill,” a but it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, you want to do is what you want to do. You lot of those shows shooting in Georgia are that government is just so di erent from don’t necessarily think about the e ect that not shooting in Atlanta, or looking to dou- business. You could have a great idea, and you have. What he made me understand ble Atlanta. “Ozark” is a good example. a hundred people say, “This is a great idea,” is how the city is like a living organism. The “Walking Dead.” They’re shooting in rural but you can’t make it happen overnight, I streets? When we do things that cause Georgia, which they can get quickly. I want can’t change the law overnight. There are heart attacks! [laughs] It’s for us to fix that. them to shoot that here, for shows to look issues that I talk about in my o ice, and It helped me understand how we have to beyond immediate Chicago. that Kwame and I talk about together, that come to a happy medium where produc- everyone agrees. We’ve got an issue, argh, tion companies get what they need, but What are the most surprising now that we all think would be best for the then also people can get up and get to requests you’ve had so far, film business in Illinois—it’s a safety issue, work on time, we’re not causing disruption but we can’t move on. We’re waiting on 24

and we’re not putting a bad taste in peo- it’s because we were able to acquiesce, going to the production o ices. I like meet- OCTOBER 2019 Newcity ples’ mouths about the experience. That’s and because we were able to make it hap- ing the UPMs [unit production managers], what I want to do to maintain the balance pen, it’s gonna draw more filming here. location scouts, the location managers. I so the city can grow, but at the same time, like talking to those people, because not too fast for residents and businesses. “Logistics” sounds dry, but you’re they’re the ones who actually have the describing a negotiation, a dance, problems. Once you’re on the set, the prob- HAWLEY: Something Kwame said, talking a form of creativity— lem’s solved, you’re just shooting. I like to about the city, but also the state, we’re know them before they have a problem, so putting the word out there that we’re AMOAKU: Oh absolutely. they can call me when they do. film-friendly. I had an issue a week ago, “Shameless” was shooting and they need- HAWLEY: I always say, creativity is prob- Let’s hear more about connections. ed to lock down LaGrange Road. That’s a lem-solving. That is the definition of cre- state of Illinois district, and the Illinois ativity, that’s what we do all the time. First AMOAKU: To me, the entire business has State Police got involved. There’s an issue, o , as a filmmaker, you can say, “I want to been those connections. The fabric of the and it was the day before and they called do this,” but then you have to figure out film industry in the city or anywhere, real- me, and I called the director of the Illinois how to do it. The simplest scene. Two peo- ly, is those interpersonal connections. State Police, a man I’d never met, he’d just ple, talking at a table in a restaurant. All That’s how things happen in business. So started [his job] as well. Nine o’clock at right, what kind of restaurant? What time the more of those you have, the better you night, he called and his first words out of of day is it? How crowded is it? Do we need can leverage it to make things happen. I’ve his mouth were, “I know the governor hot food? Do they actually eat? Who’s in been blessed enough to know a lot of peo- wants more film here, be film-friendly, I’ll the background? Yes, those are production ple from a lot of di erent sectors. Not only make a few phone calls.” This is nine issues, but you go outside that. That’s one that, but to have a degree of respect from o’clock at night, and by nine o’clock in the scene. One day. It happens day in and day them, that they can trust what I’m saying, morning, LaGrange Road was all good to out. Some problems are relatively minor, as they can believe what I’m saying. When I go, Warner Brothers was happy, “Shame- simple as, they didn’t know who to talk to. was a location manager, that trust was es- less” was happy. Probably ninety-five per- Other problems, you need to go to two or sential in doing my job. I’m coming to your cent of the people involved, both on the three people and it’s not cool to cross de- house, I’m asking to photograph every- government side, the police side, the pro- partments. thing in your house and set your house on duction side, had no idea anything hap- fire. You have to trust me. Then everyone pened. It just got done. That is a good You have a wealth of personal else has to trust me to make that happen. thing. He made it work. contacts and relationships from I’m able to look at things from the perspec- down the years, but you’re describing tive of crew, location managers, et cetera. AMOAKU: Some of these requests that something missing from far too But also to know what the city requires and come in are on the surface, ridiculous. Can many industries now—notably what they need. I’m definitely using inter- you imagine the first “Transformers” meet- newspapers, newsrooms—and that’s personal relationships now more than ever. ing? “We’ve got giant robots, we’ve got ex- institutional memory. You know how Because sometimes I have to get people plosions, paratroopers, and we want it on things worked and how different to do things they don’t want to do, and they Michigan Avenue and Wacker during the figures worked it. Top of your head, have to trust me and believe what I’m day.” Initially, people had to say, you’re tip of the tongue. talking about. nuts! There’s no way you can do this. But, no, you have to sit down and figure it out, HAWLEY: For me, yes, institutional mem- HAWLEY: Yeah. Yeah. Talking from the piece-by-piece— ory and having worked on a lot of projects, state of Illinois perspective, we wouldn’t be as a filmmaker, supervising students, a lot sitting here with you, we wouldn’t be hav- HAWLEY: Yeah, yeah— of them, you’ve been around. I’ve been a ing these conversations, if it wasn’t for the working filmmaker in Chicago for thirty tax credit and the tax credit incentive. Be- AMOAKU: —and figure out a way to make years and done a lot of things. The people cause that’s what’s keeping the shows this stu happen. We just had “Batwoman” I know, just from relationships. You men- here, that’s what’s bringing films here, here, and they had to shoot in the central tioned “Batwoman,” we didn’t get some of that’s what keeps people coming here. business district, but at the same time as their call sheets, which are backup for the When the governor signed a bill on August the Air and Water Show, so it created lo- tax credit, to prove, on September , you , Dick Wolf spoke, and the first words out gistical nightmares. Initially people in the shot here and here. I happen to be friends of his mouth were, “Y’know, if not for the city said, absolutely not. Nothing can hap- with the first A.D. on “Batwoman,” and I tax credit and the extension, we would not pen during the Air and Water Show. But called him. He was working on something be here.” There you go. There goes an in- we were able to sit down with them and else already, but I said, we’re not getting dustry. You can network all you want, but say, if we schedule it from this time to this call sheets. And he said, I can get them if if there’s no work here, you can’t collabo- time, do this corner, do that corner, we you really want them from me, but you rate and get people to do things for you made it happen. “Batwoman” ended up should talk to this person, and five minutes The business side of things, that’s why we getting a lot of extremely awesome footage, later? I had a week’s worth of call sheets. can build a workforce, that’s why we can in the central business district, and it en- talk to the unions to say, hey, let’s do work- couraged them to sincerely look toward You knew the guy who knew the guy. force training and we can go to colleges, moving the show from Vancouver to Chi- show young people who are about to grad- cago. Not only that, but establishing Chi- HAWLEY: Connectors. Like Lois Weisberg, uate that they can stay here for jobs. When cago as Gotham—for the DC Universe on who worked in this building [the Cultural “The Package” was here, that was like the the CW. So not only is it “Batwoman,” but Center]. My favorite part of the job, hon- one show in town. You wouldn’t move here any other show that needs a Gotham set- estly, a couple of people from my o ice are on the chance that next year another mov- ting, they’ll look seriously at Chicago. So going to the set of a film today, but I like ie’s gonna come. 25

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OCTOBER 2019 Newcity 27

Newcity OCTOBER 2019 —RAY PRIDE Film 50 2019 was written by RAY PRIDE All photos by SALLY BLOOD with photo assistance by HAYLEY OSBORN Shot on location at the Chicago Cultural Center. 28

4 • JACQUELINE STEWART 1 the ability to build and retain a creative and accomplishments, I plan to replace all 700 OCTOBER 2019 Newcity PETER HAWLEY effective team. “A business needs to be seats.” He says restoration work is coming overseen from every aspect of its opera- due, and that Music Box “always balances Director, Illinois Film Office  tions,” says Ryan Oestreich. “I ensure all new technology and materials with the Peter Hawley succeeded Illinois Film Office parts of the business run smoothly, but I classic design and aesthetic of the theater.” head Christine Dudley in May 2019. For a also like to spend a lot of time helping pro- Andreotti is particularly proud of the 70mm conversation between Hawley and the gram the films.” Brian Andreotti says, “If capabilities. “Over the past few years, I have Chicago Film Office’s Kwame Amoaku, go you didn’t know our eclectic and diverse established the Music Box as the place to to the “Film Leaders of the Moment” story. style of programming, then it’s hard to open a new Hollywood film on 70mm. We   explain, but I make sure that we keep a were one of only five theaters in the world 2 great balance of films playing by watching to open Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon KWAME AMOAKU all the new releases and working with the A Time In … Hollywood’ on 70mm. In com- programming team to greenlight the best ing years, I hope to help Hollywood realize Director, Chicago Film Office new and recurring festivals and special there will always be a reason to open mov- Kwame Amoaku succeeded longtime events.” Those responsibilities extend to ies on celluloid, whether 35mm or 70mm, Chicago Film office head Rich Moskal in Music Box Films for him. “Thousands of especially with the help of our great audi- July 2019. For a conversation between films are made every year, and many will ences at the Music Box.” Amoaku and the Illinois Film Office’s Peter never see the light of day,” Andreotti says. Hawley, go to the “Film Leaders of the “It’s my job to work with the staff at Music 4 Moment” story. Box Films to bring the best and most unique JACQUELINE STEWART foreign-language and independent docu- 3 mentaries, as well as American narratives Director, Arts + Public Life, Professor, BRIAN ANDREOTTI to the screens and homes across the coun- Cinema and Media Studies, University AND RYAN OESTREICH try.” (Music Box Films released two of the of Chicago; Director, South Side Home year’s most acclaimed films, Christian Pet- Movie Project and Cinema 53; Host, Director of Theatrical Distribution, zold's “Transit” and Sundance discovery TCM Silent Sunday Nights Music Box Films, Director of Programming, “Give Me Liberty.”) At the Music Box, Oes- Chicago's film community has become Music Box Theatre; Director of Finance, treich notes restoration work, including the more decentralized in recent years, Jac- Music Box Films, General Manager, marquee, new bathrooms, and the upcom- queline Stewart says. “We have seen a Music Box Theatre ing replacement of the theater’s old-fash- boom of smaller film programs and festivals, The ninety-year-old Music Box Theatre ioned seats. “Speaking of seats and future particularly on the South Side. And major remains a national leader in preserving film festivals like Black Harvest and Chicago culture under longtime owner William Schopf, and much of its success lies with 29

6 Barbara Scharres says, describing the Sis- JEAN DE ST. AUBIN, kel. “Film programming for a cultural venue BARBARA SCHARRES, is a balancing act: neither entirely in the AND MARTY RUBIN service of the movies or entirely in the ser- vice of the audience, but a job that requires Newcity OCTOBER 2019 International are partnering with neighbor- festival architect. I am invested in support- bringing them together in a way that pre- hood venues. I hope that over the next five ing regional storytellers to make their work serves cultural heritage and history, opens years we continue to see this flow of cen- and have it seen by audiences. My work a way for new artists, and fires imaginations trifugal energy, so that we have more cul- has often focused on creating a conduit in the unique ways that movies can.” (She tural equity across Chicago neighborhoods, for industry on the coasts to connect with calls this “the high-flying side of what we with more places to enjoy and discuss the immensely talented filmmakers who do.”) “On a daily basis, programming for films closer to home.” Stewart, a film his- live and work in the vast space in between.” two screens that run all year round is an torian with a focus on African-American As for her new position, overseeing a unique, all-encompassing job that involves endless filmmakers from the silent era to the pres- even eccentric, filmmaking factory she says, research, developing and maintaining ent, also studies and practices film archiving “With Kartemquin having weathered so domestic and international business con- and preservation, with a concentration on many waves in the documentary space, it tacts, much bargaining and intricate finan- the impact of race on the preservation of has meant that we've done a lot of different cial negotiations, and mundane discussions film as cultural heritage. “The producers of things for films and filmmakers over time. of exhibition formats and shipping.” There’s an MSNBC documentary on Michelle One of the greatest challenges we face is also the quest for diversity. “Our goal is to Obama visited the South Side Home Movie defining what we do best and how do we maintain the extreme diversity of our pro- Project in fall 2018 for footage of everyday most strategically build upon these gram, encompassing retrospectives, series, black life during the era when she was strengths to ably serve filmmakers into the festivals. Within that eclectic model, we growing up in South Shore. Documentar- future.” Has anything about the new job, or constantly make adjustments. I know that ians struggle to find this kind of imagery in KTQ's integration into the community, taken the stereotype is that longevity leads to archives and stock footage houses. It was her by surprise since she took the job? “I stagnation, but this is the Film Center's a powerful reminder of the importance of don't think I fully understood the critical forty-seventh year of public programming, collecting and preserving our home movies, role KTQ plays in helping so many filmmak- and that makes us more resilient and able and making them widely available.” Stew- ers shape the stories they want to tell. Sit- to deal with change. By now, we take art is also committed to providing free and ting in on KTQ labs and our intern show- change as a given, knowing that we need meaningful film programming on the South case, I quickly got a sense of how engaged to be prepared to adapt, rethink programs, Side. Of the latest of her many pursuits, Kartemquin is in the creative process, and rethink ways of doing what we do. Our presenting silents on Sunday on TCM, especially at the editing phase. I added up mission is a process, not a static scheme. Stewart says, “Hosting on TCM is an the number of years of editing experience As a programmer, I have to think in terms extraordinary opportunity to talk about film in the building, and it was staggering—over of the past, the present, and the future, but with a national, and very passionate, audi- a hundred!” it all has to work now.” ence. I look forward to bringing highlights   from ‘Silent Sunday Nights’ to my neighbors 6 5 here in Chicago.” BARBARA SCHARRES, MARTY JOLENE PINDER RUBIN, AND JEAN DE ST. AUBIN 5 JOLENE PINDER Director of Programming, Associate Director of Programming, and Executive Executive Director, Kartemquin Films Director, The Gene Siskel Film Center Jolene Pinder joined the fifty-three-year-old of the School of the Art Institute not-for-profit nonfiction powerhouse Kar- “Consider Leonard Cohen's metaphorical temquin in May as executive director after tower of song, but it's a tower of film, with a search of several months. “Over the last Marty and I, the programmers and curators, fifteen years, my work has been defined cultural caretakers hustling from floor to by hybridity,” she says, “part documentary floor, listening to all the filmmaker voices producer, part arts administrator, part film from the birth of the movies to the present,” 30

7 7 MIMI PLAUCHÉ, VIVIAN TENG, VIVIAN TENG, ANTHONY KAUFMAN, SAM FLANCHER AND MIMI PLAUCHÉ SAM FLANCHER and we have an amazing legacy, built by Artistic Director, Managing Director, Michael,\" Plauché says, \"of showcasing Film Programmer,  Programmer, emerging filmmakers, many of whom have Chicago International Film Festival  gone on to become celebrated directors. “Now that we have finalized the program for Still, we are constantly evolving to ensure this year,” Mimi Plauché says of October’s that we continue to present programming fifty-fifth Chicago International Festival, “We that benefits filmmakers and audiences alike. can say that we are energized by the state We are achieving this through a range of of contemporary filmmaking. While the film strategies.” Flancher adds, “The city's film- industry is certainly in a state of flux, as going audience grows more dedicated each models for production and exhibition shift, year, and that's exemplified by the sheer we feel that the art of cinema is as vibrant, number of film organizations that are able to diverse, and bursting with creativity as ever. thrive here. We anticipate that these trends Through the programming, we love both will only grow stronger in the next five years.” tracking and showcasing emerging cinemas Plauche says, “As movie-watching is increas- from different parts of the world, but we also ingly defined by small-screen, individual viewing, creating shared in-person experi- ences will be more important than ever.” 8 DAVID MILLER Dean, College of Computing and Digital Media, DePaul University David Miller oversees three schools at DePaul—cinematic arts, computing, and design—where he sets strategic vision and seeks the financial and human resources to enable faculty and staff to equip students with tools and opportunities for successful careers in the cinematic arts. Miller is proud that concentration on the School of Cine- matic Arts has led to ranking as a top film school by several industry publications, as well as the development of the state-of- the-art 32,000 square-foot production facility at Cinespace; a collaboration with The Second City to offer degrees in comedy 22 • ERIN SAROFSKY 9 • RICHARD KNIGHT, JR. AND BRENDA WEBB 8 OCTOBER 2019 Newcity DAVID MILLER are encouraged by the increasing excellence of films made right in our backyard.” Pro- grammer Sam Flancher agrees. “While festival and industry landscapes might be shifting, the sheer amount and range of quality work that we screen and consider is encouraging.” Short films have been Flanch- er’s purview for a few years. “The short film program is integral to the Festival because we've always highly valued discovering new, talented filmmakers. We often develop long-standing relationships with shorts filmmakers, many of whom go on to make features that we present at the Festival.” Michael Kutza leaves behind a massive history for the staff to live up to. “The Festi- val was founded on the spirit of discovery, 31

filmmaking (the only such degree in the 10 tival.” Richard Knight, Jr. says, “As the Fea- country); an academic partnership with ELIJAH McKINNON tures Programmer for Reeling, my greatest Centro Universitario de Estudios Cine- AND AYMAR JEAN CHRISTIAN challenge is assembling a slate that walks matográficos (CUEC), the top film program the fine line between surefire crowd pleas- in Mexico, to provide filmmaking opportu- has been part of Chicago Filmmakers since ers, artistically adventurous work and at nities for students from both institutions; 1978, says of the group’s home, a firehouse least a smattering of culturally relevant films. and the growth of the film, television and bought from the city of Chicago. But “rais- I watch queer-themed movies, hundreds animation programs to over 1,500 students ing funds to renovate it, and managing it of them, and assemble them for Reeling, and forty-four full-time faculty. “We also through the construction process, some- the second-oldest LGBTQ film festival in just made a significant investment in media thing completely outside my normal expe- the world. Lucky for me, I love queer cinema. server technology to allow our students to rience is something I never plan to do again!” I look forward to continuing to hold the learn the most advanced professional col- Chicago Filmmakers supports independent banner aloft for queer cinema.” The Chi- laborative post-production workflows.” filmmaking in many ways: funding digital cago film community, Knight says, is “much Recognizing that cinema has always been videos for the web, screening independent more vibrant then when I came on the an international art form, DePaul is devel- films and videos for the public, teaching scene. There are many more festivals; many oping further partnerships like the collab- film production to youth and adults, pro- more venues to watch movies, but a shrink- oration with CUEC. The school is also viding services for independent filmmakers, ing, distracted audience for the type of expanding its virtual and augmented real- awarding $100,000 annually in grants to movie festivals typically program. Film ity offerings in collaboration with DePaul’s local filmmakers through the Chicago Dig- festivals and the indie film houses have School of Design. Miller is bullish on Chi- ital Media Production Fund and two public risen beautifully to the challenge. Compe- cago too, seeing the city grow not only as film festivals: “The Onion City Experimen- tition has bred creativity.” a production hub, “but also a center for tal Film & Video Festival” and “Reeling: The content creation across the entire devel- Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Fes- 10 opment process. More original content will AYMAR JEAN CHRISTIAN be written, shot and finished here. Chicago AND ELIJAH McKINNON has the talent, but we need to do more to Founder and Interim support these artists with infrastructure Executive Director, OTV and financial resources. We also need to Television from the ground up: that’s how continue to foster a strong sense of com- Aymar Jean Christian describes the pro- munity and collaboration among local gramming of OTV that’s supporting a vital filmmakers and to increase the diversity of range of creators who are telling stories in creative voices.” Chicago and about Chicago. “We help art- ists make and release TV online. In addition 9 to fees for distribution, we offer artists access BRENDA WEBB to mentorship and free consultation, from AND RICHARD KNIGHT, JR. fundraising through marketing and commu- nity-based resources from spaces to refer- Executive Director, Chicago Filmmakers, rals.” Christian sees economic forces on Features Co-Programmer, Shorts Chicago’s side. “Cost pressures will continue Programmer, Reeling: The Chicago to bring bigger productions here and orga- LGBTQ+ International Film Festival; and Features Programming Director, 11 • VINCENT MARTELL Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ AND JORDAN PHELPS International Film Festival Newcity OCTOBER 2019 “Owning our own home gives us a sense of control over our future,” Brenda Webb, who 32

19/20 Photo courtesy of Bangarra Dance Theatre. Bangarra Dance Theatre Spirit + Nyapanyapa November 22, 2019 / 7:30PM November 23, 2019 / 7:30PM 205 East Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL 60601 | 312.334.7777 |

nizations like OTV will develop and distrib- 14 gotten the opportunity to build a business ute local talent to keep Chicago's growth AJ LINKS in film with my chosen family so our work sustainable.” Next year, 2020, OTV turns AND JENNIFER RUDNICKE naturally feels as though it’s sharing central five. “We've catalyzed indie TV production themes. We all are big advocates of work- in the city and done it with artists who are most artsy buzz” was the most restrained ing with good intentions and I would like the most often to be overlooked. We are recommendation heard for the minds at to think that you can see a hint of that in increasing staff, starting an app, and pursu- VAM Studios. Their creations across media each frame.” Fatimah Asghar says, “I believe ing partnerships outside of Chicago, includ- formats are bold and legion. “We all share strongly that circles rise together. In all our ing studios in Hollywood and Sundance, this deep love for community,” Vincent work, we aim to center marginalized people which we believe will be a long-term part- Martell says. “We share a common love for behind and in front of the camera—women, nership bringing Hollywood to Chicago to art and storytelling that’s allowed us to queer people, people of color, and people support development and distribution. Fund- explore our craft in a liberating manner. Our who are on the intersections of all these ing from the MacArthur, Surdna, and Field work was sparked by frustration. We were identities. And we want to tell stories that Foundation support our full-time staff and tired of the toxic production sets that we’ve feel authentic to us, authentic to our com- the app. OTV is scaling up: we have our first experienced as freelancers and we wanted munities.” Martell says, “My work is a cel- executive director in Elijah McKinnon; our to create something more inclusive. I’ve ebration of young messy people of color. first Heads of Community and Exhibition in There’s beauty in the things that make us Jenna Anast and Chris Walker; and we'll be 12 • ERIC CHAUDRON different, and my goal as a filmmaker is to hiring in development and marketing for 28 • CHARLES COLEMAN shine a light on those imperfections. We 2020. We got our downtown office this year, AND ELSPETH REVERE started in Chicago, and in two years we’ve and next year we'll be anchoring film and built teams in New York and L.A. Hollywood TV programming at Northwestern's down- and the production industry are catching town campus. 2019 was our biggest season on and I like to think VAM has been silently to date, doubling the number of programs leading the charge in our creative bubble. versus 2018. Our alums are shining: Sam Similar to Wakanda.” Jordan Phelps adds. Bailey sold her first feature this year, Ricardo “We’ve all been able to support and uphold Gamboa is writing for ‘The Chi,’ Karan Sunil one another while also growing up on indi- whose series ‘Code-Switched’ will revolu- vidual paths and it’s exciting. We all have tionize South Asian representation next year, very different and distinct styles in the films was on staff on ‘The Red Line’ (where we produce, but live cohesively under the another alum, Fawzia Mirza, was also a staff same VAM roof.” Sam Bailey continues, writer), Fatimah Asghar directed her first Newcity OCTOBER 2019 short. All of this action has us incorporating our new Studio arm and we're approaching investors in the fall. In five years? OTV will be an institution unique to Chicago but also unparalleled nationally.”   11 VINCENT MARTELL, JORDAN PHELPS, SAM BAILEY AND FATIMAH ASGHAR Founder, Film Director; Co-founder, Producer, Director; Digital Art Director; and VAM Mistress, VAM Studios   “One of the few [nearly] all-POC production companies in the city and the one with the 34

“We value honesty, treating everyone who 16 • MIKE NEHS arts as a career.” Chaudron sees fresh tal- works with us with the respect they deserve. 34 • MICHAEL W. PHILLIPS JR. ent and new views as the muscle of Chi- We push each other as artists. I mean, I'm 16 • JONATHAN BROSS cago’s film industry. “The new people sure any group of people who work well coming in with fresh ideas and the DIY ethic together will say this. All of those things Chaudron helped found and is also chair is what most inspires and thrills me. We happen naturally when you vibe well with of the Actors Fund, Central Region Advisory went from pretty much only Dick Wolf each other. We all have a great vibe and Council. Its purpose is to build infrastruc- shows and an occasional large-budget film there's a lot of love there.” ture for creatives who work in the perform- to a broad range of television and film pro-   ing arts in Chicago, not limited to per- duction. I’m especially thrilled by the growth 12 formers and the craftspeople responsible of film and television being produced by ERIC CHAUDRON for producing live and recorded entertain- people who represent traditionally under- ment in the city. “Our mission includes represented communities. We’ve seen huge Executive Director, SAG-AFTRA Chicago expanding access to housing, health and increases of participation by African-Amer- Local; Chair, The Actors Fund Central economic education, advocacy and provi- ican creatives both in front of and behind Region Advisory Council; President, sion. One large goal is to create an afford- the camera. This isn’t by accident. Our film Kaufherr Resource Center able live-work environment here in the city tax incentive is the only one in the country “My job description ranges quite a bit for those who want to pursue performing with a diversity requirement. Incredibly depending on what hat I’m wearing,” Eric talented people are treating Chicago as Chaudron says. “One common thread is 15 • PAULA FROEHLE their base of activity and are starting to we focus on building infrastructure. As AND STEVE COHEN envision Chicago as a hub for film and tele- executive director of SAG-AFTRA, my job vision production.” requires that I supervise a staff of thirteen who cover contracts across the spectrum 13 of filmed and recorded entertainment, JACK NEWELL broadcast news, commercials, and the music industry. While wearing the IPA hat, Program Director, The Harold Ramis Film over the last year, my job has been to lead School at The Second City; Filmmaker a coalition of labor and industry stakehold- How would you describe your work to an ers in protecting and strengthening the intelligent stranger? I ask Jack Newell, who Illinois Film tax incentive, and also to comes back, “How intelligent?” Newell is expand the reach of the IPA to make it more top banana at the growing Harold Ramis effective in establishing Chicago as a filmed Film School, which takes “The Second entertainment hub. We work closely with City's unique approach to generating sto- the state and city film offices, and our labor ries, creating good collaborators and build- and industry partners to create, and expand ing ensembles and we translate that to the upon, Chicago’s film industry infrastructure.” film and television mediums. So we take the special sauce that has made Second Newcity OCTOBER 2019 City synonymous with comedy and satire for almost sixty years and apply it to cin- ema.” Newell sees positive change and growth. “It's insane to think back to five years ago in how much it feels like things have changed—for the better.” Growth at the school includes work with NBC's TIPS program to create an Emerging Voices 36

The Great Chicago Pitch, a one- day crowdfunding event that gives Chicago audiences a first look at great docs-in-progress before they premiere at major film festivals around the country.” Scholarship to attend HRFS. have often been overlooked or 18 16 “We've got a scholarship in con- not written for, including POC ANTHONY KAUFMAN JONATHAN BROSS junction with Free Spirit Media. and LGBTQ+.” The company’s AND MIKE NEHS Those programs help folks who notable recent work includes Cohen says. “This has enabled couldn't otherwise attend our Steve McQueen’s “Widows,” us to make Chicago a city where Partners, Periscope Post program to attend and find “South Side” for Comedy Central great docs are not only sup- and Audio and Argonaut their voice or hone their craft and Jennifer Reeder’s “Knives ported financially, but also is a Entertainment Partners and, through Second City's and Skin”; current projects hub for seeing these movies “We are part of creating content networks, start careers. That's include Amazon Studios’ through our DOC10 film festival and telling stories that affect exciting. Obviously, we want a “Utopia,” Aaron Sorkin's fea- in the spring and community people and help change the world where we don't have to ture, “The Trial of The Chi- screenings. This year, we launch world,” Mike Nehs summarizes have special programs and cago 7,” and FX's fourth sea- the work of Periscope Post and scholarships because we've son of “Fargo.” Argonaut Entertainment Part- fixed society. In lieu of that? We ners. “Periscope is a leading keep at it and don't let the bas- 15 full-service post-production tards get us down.” PAULA FROEHLE house; we handle every pro-   AND STEVE COHEN cess from dailies to delivery. 14 When we do our job, the audi- MICKIE PASKAL, Co-Founders, ence never notices our work— JENNIFER RUDNICKE CEO and Board Chair, they stay immersed in the AND AJ LINKS Chicago Media Project  story.” Argonaut is another Chicago Media Project pro- invisible hand: “Argonaut pro- Casting Directors, vides financial and resource vides the capital that fuels Paskal Rudnicke Casting support “for great documen- content creation. We are a “We are comparable to a per- taries to fulfill our mission of sonal shopper for our client, creating a community of peo- OCTOBER 2019 Newcity who could be the studio, the ple in Chicago who believe producer or the director,” Jen- in the power of media to nifer Rudnicke says when asked amplify social change,” Steve what a casting director does. Cohen says. Of their focus “They tell us what they want for on nonfiction film, CMP “has a role and we find a range of seen a huge growth in sup- actors to audition for them. port in the last two years and Essentially, our client has a we see that growing each problem and we fix it: they need year. More importantly, Chi- an actor and we get the right cago is recognized by the actor. The most wonderful thing film industry as a hub for we are seeing in casting is that, docs. We are on the map!” finally, gender and diversity bias CMP was established to fos- is lifting. Roles are open to less- ter a community of philan- rigid gender and ethnicity thropists and funders of description and we can see the social cause documentaries. best actor for the role, no mat- “We are proud to say that our ter what. Plus, roles are now community is strong and being written for actors that getting stronger each year,” 37

19 • THAVARY KROUCH lender who will partner with equity provid- short documentary in 2018 and two features 19 ers to complete the funding required to get in post-production, Rana continues her THAVARY KROUCH a project into production.” Nehs continues, filmmaking practice. In the case of the “We started our company about five years Diverse Voices in Doc program, “represen- Independent Film Coordinator, ago, and there was a dynamic energy. Many tatives from major distributors and funders Chicago Film Office seeds had been planted. A growing com- come to Chicago every year to hear from Thavary Krouch has spent the last five years munity continues to reestablish Chicago filmmakers of color in the Midwest and serving filmmakers within the film distribu- as a major center for entertainment pro- remind people that stories coming out of tion space, but in a new role as Independent duction.” he says. “We are proud of what the Midwest are as creative, have as much Film Coordinator, she will be helpful in early we have accomplished and are excited to impact and are as relevant as films being stages, and assist in showcasing work as build on these platforms.“ made in Los Angeles or New York.” well. “My basic role is to provide information and resources to students and independent 17 18 filmmakers in Chicago. Everyone in the ANURADHA RANA ANTHONY KAUFMAN industry has to start somewhere. As an office, the goal is to develop local talent Filmmaker; Associate Professor and Chair, Film Programmer, Chicago and a strong production workforce to serve Documentary Program at the School of International Film Festival; the growing creative community and indus- Cinematic Arts, DePaul University; Co-Founder, Film Programmer, DOC10 try. “We want to be the premiere destination Program Coordinator, Diverse Voices How would Anthony Kaufman describe his for all things film—that's the goal for five in Doc Fellowship, Kartemquin Films  work as a film programmer to an intelligent years and beyond,” she says. “We're devel- “Like many people in a creative field, I wear stranger? “First off, I’m not a computer oping Independent Film Initiatives, specif- many hats,” Anuradha Rana says. “My role programmer!” he says. “I watch and curate ically the Filmmaker-in-Residence program as filmmaker, educator and program coor- collections of great movies and help put and the Independent Producers Appren- dinator come together in valuable ways. on singular events that bring together films, ticeship program. The Filmmaker-in-Res- My films explore the world through situa- filmmakers and audiences.” The missions idence is a yearlong commitment with the tions not entirely familiar, but not quite alien; of Chicago International and DOC10 differ, Chicago Film Office that provides a $10,000 like an immigrant who finds herself not but complement each other. “CIFF is a cash grant and other industry resources to entirely at home in her adopted country, massive program, and we sift through hun- assist in the completion of an original work. yet too far removed from her birth country dreds of feature films,” he says, so it gives The Independent Producers Apprenticeship, to call it home any longer. The films are him a unique overview. “While CIFF gives coordinated by the Chicago International rooted in an exploration of identity, how we me a breadth of knowledge about what’s Film Festival’s Industry Days program, is see ourselves and how the world sees us.” happening globally and locally, DOC10, is a professional development and mentor- As a filmmaker and educator, she says, “I a much more specific and laser-focused ship program for emerging Chicago area have learned that there is real power in the task—so CIFF gives me the big picture; independent film and media entrepreneurs.” stories people tell when offered the space DOC10 is the small springtime gem.” From She sees a strong sense of community that to speak and an ear to listen. My goal is to his perspective, Kaufman sees passion in will only grow stronger. “Community is help connect audiences to the stories and the Chicago film community. “Right now, driven by a need for justice, the desire to experiences of diverse and unheard voices. there’s a lot of excitement, probably express unheard stories, stories from POC They may be voices of the participants in because the crew and talent base is surg- and women, and supported by both stu- a film who open up their homes and hearts ing because of the streaming revolution, dio-backed production and independent as the intimate insider who speaks to an and all the shows that have been shooting film production. We are diverse and hungry issue, or of the filmmakers who take on the here. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for har- for opportunities. There is a true sense of responsibility of authentically and honestly nessing that energy for Chicago’s indepen- camaraderie. Chicago filmmakers have a representing their communities.” With a dent filmmakers.” need to find their tribe.” 17 • ANURADHA RANA Newcity OCTOBER 2019 38

edge and advantage. We've always had the writing and performing talent. The biggest growth has been in the number of produc- ers based in Chicago. With the exception of people like Steve Jones, most producers have felt the need to be based somewhere other than Chicago. Brian and Jan Hieg- gelke, Throughline Films, Angie Gaffney and Chicago Media Angels, to name a few, are demonstrating that is no longer true. That is a very healthy sign.” 20 20 22 PEPE VARGAS PEPE VARGAS ERIN SAROFSKY Founder, Executive Director, ters. What does that entail? “My work sup- Live-Action Director; Executive Creative Chicago Latino Film Festival ports the businesses and individuals who Director, Sarofsky  As the Chicago Latino Film Festival heads are in the Chicago film industry. We play a “That’s a hard question, actually,” is Erin into its thirty-sixth year, Pepe Vargas says key background role so that creative work Sarofsky’s answer to the stock question, he is “fully convinced that we are making can be confident and uninterrupted.” In the How would you describe your work to an a difference, uplifting the values of the immediate future, Leavens believes “the intelligent stranger? “I say I develop and Latino community and enhancing Chica- means of production are going to be more produce commercial and entertainment go’s cultural environment. The festival has widely distributed throughout the country, pieces,” she says. “And usually they are always been a platform for presenting cur- so competition from other cities will be very design- and VFX-heavy. People ask rent social and political issues affecting unabated. But Chicago's production depth— what I do, and when I say I made the titles Latinos worldwide.” An ongoing chal- crew, facilities, designers—will maintain its for ‘Shameless,’ they get excited. Then I lenge is living up to being the oldest and say I worked on seven Marvel Studios films biggest Latino film festival in North and they lose their mind!” Sarofsky main- America, which Vargas describes as tains a particular pace. “We’ve remained “Chicago’s most diverse international consistent in size. But that’s an intentional Latino cultural event, attended by more decision. When you are talking about than 35,000 people, Latinos and non-Latinos. The festival and every cul- OCTOBER 2019 Newcity tural event the International Latino Cul- tural Center of Chicago presents serve as vehicles to break the barriers created and perpetuated by stereotypes, and we encourage the audience to challenge misconceptions of the Latino identity by showing, through cultural expressions, that Latinos are defined by more than twenty nationalities and come from all social, political and racial backgrounds.” Substantial expansion of programming came from new funding; 1987’s $10,000 budget stands stark against the current budget, over $1.2 million. “The growth of the festival from 500 attendees for the first film festival in 1985 to more than 35,000 in 2019 is clear evidence of the great demand for quality Latino arts programming in Chicago.”   21 THOMAS LEAVENS Partner, Mandell Menkes LLC Thomas Leavens’ practice is in the area of entertainment and intellectual prop- erty, principally transactional, with some copyright and trademark litigation mat- 39

Newcity OCTOBER 2019 design-driven work, there is an artistry 21 than the script itself. I’ve continued to refine involved that is challenging to maintain the THOMAS LEAVENS and develop my career and my skill sets to quality if you scale up too big.” Upcoming be more specifically in line with what I love.”  projects are mostly in “NDA territory” and So this is sustainable? “The Chicago Film   under wraps. “But there are some projects Renaissance continues to blossom!” Reilly 25 we are excited about delivering in 2020. says. “While we have filled our newly built LAWRENCE DAUFENBACH Stuff we think will raise the bar. And maybe local stages with series, we view increasing some eyebrows.” Sarofsky says she can the number of independent films developed, CEO, Daufenbach Camera tell Chicago production is “cooking” financed and produced here as the crucial “Working as a director of photography gave because it’s harder to find crew than it was next step in building a self-sustaining eco- me the full experience of what a customer a couple of years ago. “The tax credit is system for storytellers in the Midwest.” is looking for when working with a rental creating a more confident market. And it’s house,” Lawrence Daufenbach says of only going to continue to grow. I love the 24 founding Chicago's largest locally founded- addition of stages. And I love that my com- ANGIE GAFFNEY and-owned full-service camera rental munity is elevated perception-wise. Ten Co-Founder, Executive Director, house. “Any experienced DP will tell you years ago, being a design and production Stage 18 Chicago; film producer  how important that relationship is with a company in Chicago was looked at as neg- “I cultivate people, business and stories for rental house for your career. Often, when ative. But I knew there was world-class a living,” Angie Gaffney says simply. “In I would film in other cities, I made a point talent here.” literal terms, that is producing independent to work with other rental houses and lean content, coaching creatives and facilitating into their strengths and guidance. No one 23 the development of community through can make a successful film alone, and in TED REILLY AND KELLY WALLER initiatives like Stage 18 Chicago. I love build- many ways it's not the full human experi- ing creative communities, and working with ence. We are all wired to be in relation to Founder and Executive Directors, artists to empower themselves and their others, and working with other houses as Chicago Media Angels visions. I'm a proud champion of curiosity a DP was instrumental in allowing me to Ted Reilly is an exuberant enthusiast of and a serial entrepreneur.” Ten years ago, move to a service focus. Putting trending Chicago Media Angels and its mission: Gaffney arrived from Boulder as a DePaul cinema gear through the paces also “Our mission is to organize, educate and undergrad. “So, to me, the film community allowed me to make innovative and cre- accelerate savvy film investors in the Mid- was still very small. I worked on a lot of ative decisions in building out the tools west! We help filmmakers develop efficient ultra-low and no-budget indies to gain my needed for market demands and develop capital plans, and we help investors support sea legs.” She expects that by 2029, local, the infrastructure for a high quality, lasting commercial viable projects that they are independent production will have “a large, rental house in Chicago,” Daufenbach passionate about.” Reilly says CMA was measurable impact on the film industry: says. “With the added studios and crews, “thrilled” to move production to Illinois from independent films that are developed, I expect to see more mid-market films Los Angeles for “Come As You Are,” which financed and packaged by local producers, willing to consider Chicago, while before premiered at South by Southwest and will with budgets that are large enough that it was primarily low- and high-budget tiers.” be released by Samuel Goldwyn next year. cast and crew members can sustain a liv- Daufenbach calls it “a wonderful decade.” Fest premieres await “The Translator,” “Kill- ing working on episodic television and “We paved a path for service and support ing Eleanor,” “Heirlooms” and “Hunting independent film.” Gaffney credits an abil- for everything from entry-level filmmakers, God,” and the Michael Shannon-starring ity to connect with a range of people and to national spots, to network television “Echo Boomers” wrapped in September. to assist them “in the creation and facilita- and large-budget blockbusters,” he says. “Our role is to create an efficient capital tion of their career, big or small. I've learned “I knew in starting the business that the marketplace for storytellers in the Midwest.” that my passion is actually about the per- first ten years would lay the groundwork son: the development and support of the but that the second decade would be artist is what drives me, oftentimes more where we really get to push our ideas and innovations forward.” 26 DAVID TOLCHINSKY AND DEBRA KAHN TOLCHINSKY Professor and Co-Director, MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage program, Department of Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University; and Filmmaker, Associate Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University Debra and David Tolchinsky’s activities as educators at Northwestern make the align- ment of creative and organizational initia- tives that each is working toward individ- ually into a unique collaboration/not-col- laboration. Debra is directing and producing a feature documentary about false memory and the criminal justice sys- tem, in development with Kartemquin, and her short “Contaminated Memories” was 40

23 These Chicagoans, or the roles KELLY WALLER AND TED REILLY they play, are so well-established and essential to the film world released via The New York Times’ Op-Docs pass stand-up comedy, improv, and other of Chicago that they are always OCTOBER 2019 Newcity series. She was the founding director of forms of comedy. NU has been founded the MFA in Documentary Media at North- on the idea of innovation, and folks like near the top of the list. western and instrumental in creating the Stephen Colbert created formats that didn’t curriculum, recruiting notable faculty, even exist. Financially, I’d like to see our BRIAN CHANKIN including J.P. Sniadecki, Ines Sommer, Dan- students be able to work here without hav- ielle Mia Beverly and Marco Williams, which ing to move, so, more paid TV writing Owner, Operator, Odd Obsession has, since its 2014 inception, fulfilled its opportunities here.” earliest ambitions. She is working alongside CHAZ EBERT the current department chair, Zayd Dohrn, 27 “to shape the RTVF department, as well as NANCY WATROUS President, The Ebert Company Ltd, consulting with the large undergraduate Ebert Digital LLC, Ebert Productions; population, meeting regularly with student Founder, Executive Director, Publisher,; reps and helping them to navigate the Uni- Chicago Film Archives Chairman of the Board, versity and implement their ideas, while “Films are the major source and primary The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, continuing to teach both undergrads and documentation of our historical and cultural Co-Founder and Producer, Ebertfest grads.” David Tolchinsky was until recently selves in motion during the twentieth cen- the chairperson of the Department of tury,” Nancy Watrous says of celluoid’s ABINA MANNING Radio/Television/Film, and was the found- legacy. “Film is also the most aesthetically ing director and is the co-director of North- beautiful and the most physically stable Director, Video Data Bank western’s MFA in Writing for the Screen moving image format. It is absolutely crit- and Stage. Eclectic advances include add- ical that we preserve and care for these EUGENE SUN PARK ing graduate programs (MFA in Writing for materials... all of them! Home movies, indus- Screen and Stage; MFA in Documentary trials and educational films that don't Executive Director, Full Spectrum Features Media; MA in Sound Arts & Industries), and belong in the blockbuster category.” CFA expanding offerings in improv, comedy and serves as a repository for films and is build- ALEX PISSIOS screenwriting. In that time, a faculty of ing a larger vault space with an enhanced about fourteen has expanded into the thir- cooling system. “We’ve simply run out of President, Cinespace Chicago Film Studio ties, including seven Guggenheim winners, room in our vault after fifteen years! The and noted playwrights and screenwriters. exciting thing is that film donations are GIGI PRITZKER Facilities have also boomed, including a coming in at even a more rapid pace.” To sound recording and performance studio maintain their work, Watrous builds rela- Film Producer, Philanthropist and an in-the-works downtown Chicago tionships with individuals, institutions and performing and media arts center. David’s organizations from the Midwest and beyond GORDON QUINN creative work as a screenwriter, producer, to encourage and facilitate the preservation playwright, director and composer, in film, of and access to films and film collections Founding Member and Artistic Director, television and theater, inform the daunting that represent the region, whether by sub- Kartemquin Films range of developments on the campuses. ject or filmmaker. She sees the scene as “When the MFA in Writing for Screen and uniquely suited with its “talented and ded- WILLIAM SCHOPF Stage was conceived, we centered on only icated and smart group of young Chicago- screenwriting, playwriting and television ans” to keep the CFA advancing in the field Chief Executive Officer and Owner, Music writing,” Tolchinsky says. “We now encom- of film preservation and exhibition. Among Box Theatre; President, Music Box Films those talents, Watrous cites CFA’s Collec- KYLE WESTPHAL, BECCA HALL, JULIAN ANTOS, CAMERON WORDEN, REBECCA LYON Co-Programmer, Blogger; Co-Founder, House Manager; Executive Director; Co-Programmer; Archivist; Chicago Film Society 41

27 NANCY WATROUS tions Manager, Yasmin Desouki; Transfer 26 Technician Justin Dean; Client Services DEBRA KAHN TOLCHINSKY Director Matt Schwarz and Director of Film AND DAVID TOLCHINSKY Transfer Operations Olivia Babler. “We all Newcity OCTOBER 2019 work in an open office so we are accessible theater: showing international films to cultural mandate to curate thoughtful pro- for each other and understand the impact young people and teaching them to under- grams that demonstrate an awareness of we have on each other in our professional stand the media that surrounds; and rent- diverse critical, historical and cultural con- roles,” she says. “I hope our tens of thou- ing, selling, screening, and streaming texts, and an ability to relate those concerns sands of films that we care for will be more entertaining films that are carefully selected to both general audiences and cinephiles.” publicly accessible in extraordinary and for their importance to history, film history, unexpected ways. I also hope to have a a specific culture or current events. I iden- 29 hand in the strengthening and multiplica- tify and program films to screen at Facets BRYAN WENDORF tion of independent regional media archives each week of the year that introduce throughout our country.” thoughtful audiences to places, people and Artistic Director and Programmer, ideas that can help them be better citizens Chicago Underground Film Festival 28 of the world. The experience provides peo- “I've been programming experimental, inde- ELSPETH REVERE ple with a depth of understanding that can pendent and underground film and video AND CHARLES COLEMAN happen most readily through the unique for over twenty-five years now,” says Bryan power of film. As Milos once said: ‘Estab- Wendorf of CUFF, the world’s longest-run- Interim Executive Director and lishing and finding a home and audience ning underground fest, zooming into its Cinémathèque Program Director, Facets for challenging films is not for the faint of twenty-seventh year. “When I began, I Facets continues the mission of its founder heart, and we are blessed in the U.S. with didn't have any idea what I was doing. I Milos Stehlik, who founded the Lincoln hundreds of courageous and brave souls learned by trial-and-error and I'm mostly Park institution in 1975 and passed away committed to fighting the good fight for self-taught. But today, I feel confident in earlier this year. Elspeth Revere is Facets’ independent and international films.” Pro- my abilities as a programmer and in my interim executive director after playing a gramming is an important job, he says. “A vision of what the Chicago Underground similar role at Kartemquin. “Milos was com- film programmer provides an invaluable Film Festival is and can be. The ‘anti-es- mitted to finding new audiences for import- tablishment’ film festival may be firmly ant films that are left outside the commer- cial or the mainstream art film circuits,” Charles Coleman says. “Our approach has always been curatorial, in the sense that we recognize that hundreds and thousands of films are unavailable to audiences, but deserve to be seen. That belief took into our multiple lines of work alongside the 42

established now but there are always new 36 • AMY GUTH ways to push things forward and keep the 25 • LAWRENCE DAUFENBACH festival challenging, provocative and enter- 30 • ERIK CHILDRESS taining.” Wendorf focuses on expanding 42 • STEVEN A. JONES the form. “I find and program a selection 30 • BRIAN TALLERICO of films that attempt to push the boundar- ies of what film can be or can do. Not long granted us a level of trust in our selection  31 ago, a representative from another film process. My idea for the fest was simple. A CHRISTY LeMASTER festival told me, \"You aren't in the film-pro- film festival designed around the best-re- gramming business, you're in the blow- ceived films from other events, with an Assistant Curator of Public Programs, ing-people's-minds business.\" That is one opportunity for attendees to see every Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago  of the highest compliments anyone has single one with no intrusion of competition After a long and abundant run with the given me and, well, accurately describes or headache of schedule-making. We offer Nightingale, Christy LeMaster brings her what I try to do.” a best-possible schedule for an audience curatorial acumen to the MCA, working with to experience and join the discussion early.” a team of colleagues to select and produce 30 Tallerico says,“I think that a loyalty to film in performances and public programs in mul- BRIAN TALLERICO Chicago will outlast me,” Tallerico says. “It's tiple spaces in the museum. She programs AND ERIK CHILDRESS a city of passionate people, and they won't screenings at the 300-seat theater, as well let go of the manner in which they impact as working with artists and thinkers to pro- Producer, President, The Chicago the world of film. If anything, they'll just fight gram events for the Commons, the MCA’s Critics Film Festival, Managing Editor, harder to hold onto it. I want each year of space for art and civic engagement, and and Producer, Director, the festival to be better than the one before. organize moving image art for exhibitions. Programmer, The Chicago Critics Film And I'm optimistic that continues for the “The MCA presents a wide variety of moving Festival, Senior Editor, eFilmCritic, next ten years. Maybe even twenty!” image-based art that invites active viewing Podcast Co-Host, WGN Radio and encourages shared understanding of “I program an annual event designed to build 29 the important issues of our time,” LeMas- buzz for films hand-picked by working film BRYAN WENDORF ter says, “presenting both independent critics,” is Brian Tallerico’s straightforward films and artist-made cinema, alongside take on the seven-year-old Chicago Critics event-centered popular movies.” She sees Film Festival. “The idea is to elevate quality this as an exciting time to be part of the work, supporting the people who made it moving image community in Chicago. and bringing all of it—film, creator, audi- “There are so many artists and organizations ence—together for a week that celebrates working on innovating the form from all art.” Childress adds, “I’m a film critic who angles. Not only do we have multiple places in his spare time organizes a film festival to see the best new cinema work from all in the hopes of expanding the reach of the over the world, Chicago visual artists are art form and the discussions it provokes inviting moving image into their practices both intellectually and emotionally. We’re more and more, and we are home to really entering our eighth year in 2020, but our exciting production platforms at all levels level of commitment increases every year, of professionalization.” related to the growing turnout by the film   community that has embraced us and 32 EMILY EDDY OCTOBER 2019 Newcity Director, Nightingale Cinema; Programmer, Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival; Development and Marketing Manager, Video Data Bank  Emily Eddy, one of the most visible local programmers, describes herself as “a cura- tor and an artist, but mostly I'm an advocate 43

of experimental film and video, meaning that 32 eotheque manager at Facets in 2010-2011, I screen and promote moving-image art and EMILY EDDY the founding director of the Black Cinema artists that fall outside of so-called normal House (now Stony Island Arts Bank Cin- cinematic styles.” Eddy differs with the there are triumphs and disappointments, ema), and I've worked as events coordina- notion such work is difficult: “Very often, you can't predict what's going to happen. tor at the Film Studies Center since 2015.” experimental film and video is seen as too As for the future? Your guess is as good as But his most personal contribution to the serious, too academic, inaccessible, and mine. Anything is possible.” current scene is South Side Projections, intimidating for people who aren't familiar which “shows rare films—often forgotten with it. Through my work, I aim to make the 34 documentaries on social issues, but we case that experimental film and video can MICHAEL W. PHILLIPS JR. cast a pretty wide net—at locations around be just as accessible, relatable, emotional Founder, Executive Director, Chicago's South Side. We don't have a and moving as traditional cinema. I feel pas- South Side Projections headquarters; instead we partner with sionately that experimental screenings Michael W. Phillips Jr. has been around. “I museums, art centers, universities and should be open, fun, welcoming spaces, and was the director of the LaSalle Bank/Bank other organizations to bring film screenings that everyone, regardless of prior knowledge of America Cinema from 2006 until it closed and discussions to their audiences. There's of film, can get something out of the expe- in 2010, the founding film programmer of almost always a discussion, with a film- rience.” At the end of her first decade as a Chicago International Movies & Music Chicagoan, Eddy says, “I couldn’t say I knew Festival (and programmed it five of the first anything about Chicago’s film community, seven years), the cinematheque and vid- but my freshman year of college I went to almost every ‘Conversations at the Edge’ 31 • CHRISTY screening, which was—and continues to LeMASTER be—a transformative and exciting screening Newcity OCTOBER 2019 series for me. When I found the Nightingale and started going to more underground and DIY screenings I felt embraced by the hybrid film and art community, and felt like I found my thing.” She cautions, “That said, what feels comfortable to me does not necessar- ily feel comfortable for others, and I hope the film community in the coming decade grows in diversity of women, people of color and queer voices between artists, curators and administrators.” 33 SERGIO MIMS Co-Founder, Co-Programmer, Black Harvest Film Festival; film critic and historian; Co-Founder, black film website Shadow and Act Sergio Mims, a mainstay on the Chicago film scene for nearly four decades, describes himself “simply as someone who wants people to know and appreciate films more and then maybe explore more on their own and discover a whole new world.” At the twenty-fifth edition of Black Harvest in August, Mims received the Gene Siskel Film Center Legacy Award, “a great honor and the first award I've ever achieved for anything!” he says, laughing. “I really didn't expect it! When I got involved with Black Harvest twenty-five years ago I did it because I love movies, and of course black movies and I thought it was important to get black film seen, ones that normally wouldn’t get any sort of distribution. It wasn’t for acclaim. I never expected it to last this long at the beginning and now it has become a major part of my life, which I can't imagine without it. As for the award? Well, it means that I'm old and that I've contributed something worthwhile. When I look back, I think I've done good, as the saying goes. I've learned that although 44

maker, an activist, and so on.” There are plans to distribute rediscoveries in the near future. “We keep finding films that really should be out there, but there's nobody championing them,” Phillips says. “We can be that champion.” Since starting SSP in 2011, he says, “I love how film on the South Side has grown. I don't get out to other people's shows as much as I should, but people like the kids at filmfront, Jacqueline Stewart's Cinema 53, the new Chicago South Side Film Festival, they're all doing amazing work. It proves that audiences are still hungry for that in-person experience, seeing a movie with a bunch of people and talking about it afterward.” 35 33 to me.” Of the Midwest Independent Film OCTOBER 2019 Newcity SARA CHAPMAN SERGIO MIMS Festival, where she took the reins in July Executive Director, Media Burn 2018, she says, “From the outside looking Independent Video Archive including the MacArthur Foundation, the in, it might seem like MIFF is simply a Sara Chapman started with Media Burn at Driehaus Foundation, the National Archives, screening and party on the first Tuesday its beginnings in 2003, and has been exec- and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley of each month, but it's an organization with utive director for thirteen years. A unique Foundation. “Our mission is to use archival room to keep growing, and a wonderful archive of video produced by activists and media to deepen context and encourage mix, day in and day out. MIFF has seen critical thought through a social justice dramatic transformation in the last couple 35 lens,” Chapman says. “Media Burn was of years, and leading an organization SARA CHAPMAN born out of a tradition of experimentation through culture change cannot be quick with the medium of video for art, perfor- and easy, but deliberate and with very clear artists that was a small local entity has mance, and guerrilla television. Our founder, focus so every decision can support the grown to global recognition with more than Tom Weinberg, chose the name for our big picture. You have to have thick skin and twenty-million views of the videos, with archive as a deliberate evocation of its a lot of self-confidence, because most peo- more than 3,000 online (of 8,000 total) at anarchic, satirical spirit.” That spirit drives ple deeply resist even the most positive of the Media Burn site. Chapman recently the guiding philosophy, “that artists have change!” Similarly, Guth sees the past cou- created and managed a breakthrough proj- historically functioned as a check on official ple of years as equally transformational. ect on “fake news” and intercultural narratives, and that independent creators “Well, longer than that, really, but having a exchange with two Americans and two may communicate more truthfully than foot in the journalism world and a foot in Russian documentary filmmakers. Chap- traditional media sources, even when cre- the film world, I feel like I've had a front-row man has also raised funding from groups ating experimental or non-narrative work,” seat to the digital transformation in the past she says. The success of the Russia col- decade. What hasn't changed is the com- laboration led to the next project: “This munity feel here; Chicago is the biggest type of work will be more and more our small town there is, and there's a lot of focus in the future. We are now proposing community bootstrapping that is amazing a more ambitious artist residency with and wonderful. The downside is that we've China. China is the locus of perhaps the all gotten so good at wearing so many hats most vibrant and groundbreaking under- on each other's sets that at some point we ground experimental filmmaking in the risk diluting the strength of each individual world today. China’s independent filmmak- artist's talent. We have a long way to go in ers create films that are routinely rejected terms of coming together and making sure by state censors, preventing them from every artist from any neighborhood in the being officially screened.” city has a seat at the proverbial table so we can help each other thrive at different 36 career stages.” AMY GUTH Executive Director, Midwest 37 Independent Film Festival; filmmaker AMIR GEORGE and journalist; Host, WGN Radio and Crain's Daily Gist Podcast Filmmaker; Co-Founder and Curator, “People often say, ‘Wow, you do so many Black Radical Imagination; Film different things!”’ Amy Guth says, “and Programmer, True/False Film Fest  that's never not weird to me, because every- “My work consists of tapping into the thing I do is so closely tied to storytelling unknown,” says filmmaker-programmer and narrative and setting stories free into Amir George. “Organizing screenings, peo- the world. So, it's always connected and always driving toward the same end goal 45

Newcity OCTOBER 2019 ple and productions. I watch a lot of mov- 38 to help give Chicago filmmakers the ies. I aim for the films I’m making to push M.E. BARKER resources they need to increase our pro- past the conventions of storytelling, and AND SCOTT SCHWARTZ duction value and visibility to truly compete.” be more representative of people that look Beyond business, he says, “We want to like me.” George is entering his second Day.” A documentary series from a feminist bring more major projects from Chicago season as one of the three programmers perspective, “Boobs” will announce part- to the rest of the world. If we can accom- for True/False, the premiere doc fest nerships soon. As a two-person team, plish that, we can take control of our city’s located in the middle of Missouri in Colum- Schwartz says, their work is comprehensive narrative to promote an authentic vision of bia. “True/False is a destination festival, it’s problem-solving. “We wear a lot of hats what Chicago is.” where people go to discover things. We’re and must create our own systems to fill in thinking about nonfiction films that push for roles that traditional film studios have. 39 the form forward. Being on the program- Every facet of ideation, development and RAUL BENITEZ ming team has been invigorating to my execution is done between the two of us, AND NANDO ESPINOSA filmmaking practice. My work has and can take place anywhere in the world but I 37 Lead Film Programmer and Programmer, always plan to have a base in Chicago.” AMIR GEORGE Comfort Film Raul Benitez describes Comfort Film sim- 38 as well as our partner Pat Corcoran. To just ply: “I curate and exhibit films old and new SCOTT SCHWARTZ call ourselves producers or development that challenge the audience and expose AND M.E. BARKER executives doesn't capture the full picture.” them to films they have not seen or have Heads of Film and TV Development, Barker adds, “We subscribe to the ideology seen, but are presented in a new way.” Nice Work Films that when one Chicagoan wins, we all win. Nando Espinosa adds: “The work done at “Our philosophy relies upon the ideology But we still struggle to break free from our the Comfort Station in Logan Square is that Chicago can and should aim higher to bootstrap mentality. Chicago filmmakers one of community engagement at its core. compete with the coasts,” says Nice Work often ask for what they need rather than While there are routine responsibilities and Films’ Scott Schwartz. “Chicago filmmakers what they want. We want big studio projects, basic AV tech support—something anyone are problem-solvers by nature, conditioned first-look deals, high budgets, high talent can do, really—the series has grown as tall by limited resources and contacts to make as it has, because it’s rooted in the deep the best out of what we have. Our goal has bonds formed alongside and watered con- sistently with the Chicago audiovisual cre- always been to help elevate Chicago's sta- ative community: academically trained tus as a major film market, while fostering filmmakers, celluloid purists, quirky new relationships with filmmakers, storytellers, media artists, sketch comedy web-series and innovators who operate outside of the creators, and folks who last year thought traditional Hollywood system.” Current of their first movie idea. They have a movie projects run from an MGM musical being baby they wanna share with a Chicago written, a limited series co-produced with audience and we welcome them into our Chance the Rapper about Harold Wash- home—for Raul and I, really, a second ington and co-producing music videos for home—and invite the public for a night of tracks off Chance’s new album, “The Big fun and pride.” Benitez insists on collabo- ration, and credits assistant film program- mers Emily Perez and Mathew Tapey. “Col- laborations are essential to our program- ming philosophy at Comfort Station. Having partners in programming really helps open up our programming and the type of films we can show.” “I say this with 46

equal amounts of pride and sadness,” Espi- 40 • SHANE SIMMONS, nosa continues, “but we have outlived many, CLARE COONEY, many film series and spaces for the Chicago film community. Pride because we know EDDIE LINKER AND we deserve it, sadness because friends SUSIE LINKER had to close shop. We owe that to a brick- and-mortar building that allows us to have and affordable for everyone.” Eddie Linker, to ultimately have a direct impact on arts the series running, yes, but also to the grind whose production company is Forager communities with inadequate resources. and talking people’s ears off. I hope we Films, says “So many people on our board We partner with a different program at each have the steam to keep going five, ten more said they would help and Forager opens event, and talk about their missions, donat- years. The landscape of the neighborhood doors with distributors and gives us a level ing net profits to each charity.” Linker says might keep changing, but Raul and I will of credibility.” The organization’s mission that Clare Cooney and Shane Simmons still be around with our inflatable screen is not only to provide word-of-mouth for provide “the drive and energy to keep us and our AV cart.” worthy movies, but also to raise awareness going,” finding partners such as CH Dis- and promote the arts in Chicago neighbor- tillery and the Ace Hotel. While Eddie Linker 40 hoods. “We added a charitable component and Simmons are both producers, Linker SUSIE LINKER AND EDDIE as we saw funding for art programs in Chi- sees them as separate pursuits. Simmons LINKER, CLARE COONEY cago dropping,” Susie Linker says. “It’s says, “We’ve taken on a ridiculous set of AND SHANE SIMMONS important to give back, and help sustain circumstances for our core screenings—it local art and film programs in Chicago, but might rain, it might be too windy, there Co-Founders, Artistic Director and might be a concert next door we didn’t Operations Director, Elevated Films 39 know about, or, on a summer night in Chi- “We started Elevated Films after a few of RAUL BENITEZ cago, there just might be too many other our movies played at Rooftop Films in New AND NANDO ESPINOSA fun things people want to do.” Looking York,” Eddie Linker says of the nonprofit forward, Eddie Linker says, “We have at seasonal independent film series. “We loved least six film schools in Chicago alone, and the vibe and the experience, and wanted we have all this talent. What we have done to bring that to Chicago’s film community.” in the past is export great talent. There Rooftop Films helped them get started with needs to be a better ecosystem. Hollywood a small joint venture, with a blueprint for makes great blockbusters. We need to what this would look like in Chicago. “These make great movies.” first-run independent film screenings on   rooftops and alternative screening spaces 41 around the city donate the proceeds to arts INES SOMMER organizations and artistically inclined char- ities in Chicago,” says Clare Cooney, “pro- Filmmaker; Organizer, DOC CHICAGO; viding a space for film lovers and filmmak- Associate Director and Lecturer, ers to gather, socialize and enjoy movies MFA in Documentary Media Program, with a view in a way that is approachable Northwestern University  “I’ve always straddled the worlds of making and presenting films,” Ines Sommer says, OCTOBER 2019 Newcity “while looking to create a supportive eco- system for independent filmmakers.” Som- mer worked for years as staff, programmer or board member for nonprofits like Chi- cago Filmmakers and IFP Chicago. But about ten years ago, she co-founded the nonprofit Percolator Films, which ran the popular Reeltime documentary-discussion 47

45 I can say that I might be considered the does? “I tell the intelligent strangers that my MELISSA CHAPMAN voice of experience, having gone from DIY job as I see it is first and foremost Creative totally handmade indies to studio pictures Quality Control, starting with the story, over- series and the Talking Pictures Festival in and back again, a few times, and having seeing along with the director the creative Evanston. “Our programming approach made every mistake at least once. My origins hires and then monitoring their work and was intentionally community-oriented, as a commercial animation director and the rest of production through to the final bringing filmmakers, local organizations, musician gave me a unique take on the cre- print. There is, of course, fiscal overview—I and audiences into conversation with each ative process, and being thrown into the fire have to be aware of budgetary concerns. other and finding new ways for people to as a producer forced me to learn what it There is also a degree of being the on-set engage beyond the screening room.” Last takes to mount a successful production. And psychologist when dealing with the many year, Sommer took a similar tack with Per- I have had the pleasure of seeing some of varied personalities. Sometimes I describe colator Films’ latest endeavor, a regional my former DePaul students, whom I helped myself as ‘the Complaint Department.’” conference for documentary filmmakers. mentor, flourish and succeed and I expect   The initial DOC CHICAGO conference was that the future in film is really promising for 43 in March, prompted by a “state of the doc- many of them.” What virus are you passing ALAN MEDINA umentary” survey that gathered responses along to the next generation—both students AND MALIA HAINES-STEWART from well over a hundred Midwestern doc- and filmmakers? “I have one thing I tell my umentary filmmakers. “Not surprisingly, students every year and that is that film Co-Directors, Co-Founders, career sustainability was the biggest con- production is hard work—the hours, the and Co-Programmers, filmfront  cern, while a documentary conference emotional commitment, the travel and the “filmfront is a free community cine-club that ranked highest among the resources and distance from loved ones adds up to a dif- we have operated out of a storefront in events that people wanted to see. My ficult career choice. That being said, it's just Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood over the approach to DOC CHICAGO was to make as difficult to make a crappy film as it is to last four years,” Alan Medina says. “Our it participatory, cross-generational and make a good one, so start with good mate- work takes the form of film series and col- encourage new connections across the rial!” How do you convey what a producer laborations, making an effort to showcase region,” she says. “Sustainability shouldn’t global, classic, documentary, experimental hinge on having access to funders or the and local cinema. We believe in the impor- lack thereof. There’s strength in supporting tance of sharing dialogue with our audience each other as makers.” Chicago Filmmak- about what they have witnessed on the ers partnered in organizing DOC CHICAGO, screen and how they perceive the work or and many local filmmakers served on pan- themselves in relation to it.” Haines-Stew- els, screened short docs and participated art adds, “As a microcinema, we see our- in a “community conversation” that focused selves as a small, intimate space but with on establishing more connections across a goal of wide-ranging programming that the Midwest. “Chicago has an amazing opens up to a large audience across the documentary community, and we can learn city, with the hope that what we do never from each other and keep building a resil- feel niche. We are committed to collabora- ient, supportive community.” tion. In this vein, we plan to continue devel- oping generative entanglements between 42 individuals, unofficial groups and organiza- STEVEN A. JONES tions in order to support a sense of con- Producer in Residence, DePaul University  nection in the cinema and arts community.” Steve Jones’ career has shifted with chang- (filmfront press also provides perspective ing times since his arrival as a producer in through an ongoing series of books.) “In the storied 1980s and 1990s of Chicago filmmaking, often in partnership with direc- 43 • ALAN MEDINA AND tor John McNaughton. Some observers have MALIA HAINES-STEWART a picture of Jones as the grouchy keep- Newcity OCTOBER 2019 er-of-wisdom, a proper Midwestern racon- teur and skilled line producer. “Grouchy? Fuck them!” Jones says, laughing. “I think 48

41 INES SOMMER our last four years of programming series 46 and organizing events around movies,” MORGAN ELISE JOHNSON Haines-Stewart says, “Chicago's filmgoing community has always struck me as deeply relative to Los Angeles and New York in movies like “Premature,” “Knives & Skin” OCTOBER 2019 Newcity involved with movie-watching and actively the past decade. “This was partially due to and “The Hottest August,” says a music in search of spaces for shared experiences. our Midwestern modesty, and partially due supervisor, “oversees all music-related All of which gives me confidence that Chi- to the reality that the film business was not aspects of film, television, advertising and cago's cinema culture and the audience mature. Some major components to a sus- other visual media. I work with the deci- that creates it will continue to preserve tainable industry are still missing, but I think sion-makers and creative team to deter- classic screening dynamics, privileging most of these will be in place in the coming mine a musical vision, style, tone and real- high-quality viewing experiences of import- decade. We need more distributors and istic timeline, while strategically budgeting ant films, while also supporting more exper- more investors and more writers’ rooms in for the music. I get the appropriate approv- imental projects that expand our under- Chicago. And how about a film market? All als in place, draft and issue paperwork, and standing of the medium.” of these pieces could be in place by 2029. get rights holders paid.” She sees Chicago 44 We also need to take more advantage of film on a fast track for growth, but still need- CHRIS JOHNSON our strengths like the deep pool of talent ing to “embrace and lift up new voices and in the Chicago theater and improv com- unheard stories. The community is com- Owner, Founder, munities, and the diversity of our city. I’ve partmentalized, but it’s getting better. It Johnsonese Brokerage LLC also been on the board of IFP Chicago for would be amazing if the productions film- “We’re in the business of entertainment a few years, and we’ve put together a lot ing in Chicago used post-production insurance and our biggest market is film,” of programming to help filmmakers find resources here, instead of sending every- Chris Johnson says. “During the production resources and collaborators to get more thing back to the West Coast.” In the last process, we provide insurance that covers films made.” decade, Chapman says she’s “spent most things like injuries to cast and crew, damage of my time privately educating filmmakers or theft of equipment, and damage to loca-  45 about the realities of using music in film.” tions. After the film is completed we provide MELISSA CHAPMAN   insurance that covers claims like copyright 46 infringement or defamation of character Music Supervisor, President, MORGAN ELISE JOHNSON against the filmmakers. There are also more Groove Garden  exotic insurance products relating to film The sound of a movie should be as seduc- Independent Filmmaker; Co-Founder such as adverse weather coverage, and tive as its images, but the work isn’t noticed and Creative Director, failure-to-appear coverage for tempera- unless it’s a Quentin Tarantino jukebox. “My purpose is black liberation,” says Morgan mental stars. We also insure all types of Melissa Chapman, who has worked on Elise Johnson. “My work is my picket line, stunts like explosions or use of exotic ani- mals.” Johnson sees Chicago’s film com- munity overcoming an inferiority complex 49

Newcity OCTOBER 2019 petition or protest song. Whether it's jour- 44 • CHRIS JOHNSON portrays an out-of-sorts thirty-four-year-old nalism or documentary, I use narratives to woman who takes a much-needed job explore truths often forgotten, hidden or The TRiiBE, as a black women-led publica- nannying a six-year-old before her life is buried. I focus on impact first, and then craft tion in Chicago is radical. I can't think of complicated by an unwanted pregnancy. stories that will move people to action.” One any greater honor than serving black Chi- “I wanted to tell stories with female protag- form that takes is The TRiiBE, “a production cago and giving our community a platform onists from a female perspective,” O’Sulli- company and distribution platform and pub- to tell stories.” van says. “We put all we had into this movie, lication designed to shape the narrative of a decade of collaborative relationships, big black Chicago and giving ownership back 47 asks and countless favors, hoping it would to the people through journalism and art.” ALEX THOMPSON, get finished and that some people would Her first documentary feature, “There Are JAMES CHOI AND KELLY O'SULLIVAN see and like it. We shot fast, but only Jews Here,” was distributed through PBS because of the slow work done before,” she World Channel Stations, “a huge accom- 47 says, with fifteen years of Chicago theater plishment for me as a budding filmmaker. I KELLY O’SULLIVAN, JAMES CHOI, behind her. Producer James Choi says a was twenty-five during production with AND ALEX THOMPSON key to “Saint Frances” is how the work barely any feature film experience.” A short Screenwriter, Lead Actor, understands that filmmakers have to “be documentary about exposure to violent Executive Producer; Producer; honest and passionate with your choices crime in Chicago is under wraps, and and Director, “Saint Frances” but also understand the cultural zeitgeist. “Unapologetic,” a documentary Johnson is “The culmination of six tons of work” is how If you can create with a higher purpose in producing for 2020 release “will shake up “Saint Frances” screenwriter Kelly O’Sullivan mind and walk this fine line between art Chicago, so I'd say it's my most exciting describes the premiere, SXSW 2019 audi- and commerce, good things will always project in the works.” She describes its turf: ence award and jury recognition for break- happen… and it did. Chicago is budding “During the height of the Movement for Black through voice, and a theatrical pickup by with reckless filmmakers making bold Lives in Chicago, ‘Unapologetic’ captures a Oscilloscope Laboratories. “Saint Frances” choices and creating with abandon. I abso- community of millennial organizers con- lutely love it. The time is now.” Director Alex Thompson calls the whole experience fronting an administration complicit in state “gratifying.” “It probably looks like persever- violence against its black residents.” But ance, but it’s simply that nothing else comes today she sees a conscious push to build close to making movies. I’ve been lucky in the film and TV community and to develop the collaborators who’ve stayed in touch, creatives who will stay and do the work in stayed friends, stayed invested. ‘Saint Fran- Chicago. “By 2025, I'm expecting more ces’ wouldn’t be the success it was if it soundstages and big productions in Chicago. weren’t for all the folks who’ve been ser- I think there's going to be an explosion of endipitously available and willing to say black, queer and women-led productions ‘Yeah, we can do this,’ over and over again with the support of budding organizations for the eight years I’ve spent in Chicago.” like Sisters in Cinema, OTV, VAM and—of Thompson adds, “My job on ‘Saint Frances’ course—The TRiiBE! The mere existence of was to take Kelly O’Sullivan’s perfect script and not fuck it up.”   48 DREW WEIR Sound Designer and Mixer, Another Country “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” Drew Weir says by way of describ- 50

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