Screens Monthly: February

This month, you’d be forgiven if you spent your time at the movies catching up on Oscar nominations. With the 90th Academy Awards slated for March 4, there are dozens of films up for top honors. AMC Theatres offers a Best Picture showcase over two weekends just so you can see all the biggest titles. But if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, there’s no shortage of film-centric events and screenings to attend. From parties to screenings to film festivals and fundraisers, we’ve got the highlights of what to see on screen in February.

Image courtesy of Hedayat Film

February 3

28th Festival of Films from Iran – As you might imagine, being any type of creative in Iran is difficult to do; and yet, much like the human spirit itself, filmmakers persist and Iranian cinema is as strong as ever. For nearly thirty years, the Gene Siskel Film Center has presented their month-long festival of films from this Middle Eastern country, and this year proves to be another interesting program. We took a look at a few of the offerings; you can see all eight films (each making their Chicago theatrical premiere) through March 1. Get the full schedule and ticket info here.

February 5

Chicago Underground: Untapped – Celebrating its 25th year in June, the Chicago Underground Film Festival consistently presents the kind of obscure, unknown and entirely impressive films you won’t see in your local multiplex. Presented by IFP Chicago, the festival kicks off its season with a fundraising party on Monday, February 5 at the Lagunitas Taproom on the city’s southwest side. There’ll be live music, food and beer (of course) and a very cool raffle of door prizes. Tickets are $25, and you can party with confidence knowing that the price of the ticket goes directly to making CUFF 25 happen. Get yours here.

February 11, 18 and 25

Sunday Cinema at the Spertus Institute – The learning institution on South Michigan Avenue presents a three-film doc series that explores the Jewish influence on music from around the world. We were able to check out the films in advance; here’s our take. Attend all three and you’ll journey from Israel to Australia to Iraq to India and back again, all with the sense that you’re in the audience for the open-air concerts, music festivals and special performances these three documentaries present. Tickets for each screening are $18, unless you’re a Spertus member, for whom they’re just $10. Learn more about the whole series here.

Best Worth Thing, then and now. Image courtesy of Variety

February 13

Best Worst Thing… at Porchlight – In 1981, Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince created a new show about friendship and success and the passing of time. It did not go well. Now, Porchlight Music Theater in the Gold Coast presents the revamped version that re-launched in 1994, and as part of their programming around this production, they’re hosting a screening of Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, the documentary that chronicles that doomed first production. If you’ve ever tried to create something from nothing; if you’ve ever performed in a school musical; if you’ve ever chased a dream at all, you should see Best Worst Thing…; the chance to see it alongside Porchlight’s energetic new production is a bonus. More info here (scroll down for film info).

February 16

Black Panther in Theaters – A whole confluence of exciting things collide to make Black Panther the most anticipated Marvel film in…well, maybe ever. Already blowing advanced ticket sales out of the water, the film is the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), a prince who returns to his African homeland when his father, the King of Wakanda dies. The stacked (and very well-dressed) cast (Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman) are led by writer/director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), and if the early buzz is any indication, it’s going to be massive. Early screenings happen Thursday, February 15, if you really can’t wait.

February 22

Dinner & Docs: ICARUS – Here’s one that’ll count toward your Oscars tally: Chicago Media Project is a crowd-sourced film funding non-profit that focuses on documentary projects, and Icarus, a film they invested in, just got nominated for an Oscar. Though you could stay home and watch this one on Netflix, why would you when Dinner & Docs, CMP’s monthly screening program, offers you the chance to see it on the big screen? Pitch in a pretty penny for dinner before the film at The Davis’s Carbon Arc, and become a part of the project that’s helping make great documentary film happen. Tickets available here.

It’s a short month, which means there’s fewer days to pack in great film. What will you make time for in February?

Lisa Trifone
Lisa Trifone