March comes in like a lion…as the saying goes. Our latest slate of cinematic options fits the bill this month, as the year’s biggest night in movies is just four days away and screenings and events only stay impressive from there. There’s an opera (stay with me here) that takes advantage of projected images on stage to add to the drama; the beginning of a three-month-long film series featuring Asian cinema from around the continent; and a new Wes Anderson film that’s already winning acclaim in early festival screenings.
March 3 – 21
Lyric Opera’s Faust – Multi-hyphenate artist John Frame (sculptor, filmmaker, photographer…) brings his unique aesthetic of shadowy stop-motion imagery and whimsical, sometimes ominous characters to a whole new medium with a world premiere production of Faust at Lyric Opera, opening March 3. The new interpretation of one of the most popular operas in the world sees Frame’s filmmaking and art projected on stage to impressive effect; combined with his influence on staging, set design and costumes, look for this bold new take on the familiar to turn heads. Learn more and get tickets here.
90th Academy Awards – In the last two years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the industry group that presents the Oscars) has made a concerted effort to expand its membership, both in size and diversity. And for the first time, that’s showing up in the nominees; this year’s crop are less traditional (less white and male) than ever before. Between that shake-up and last year’s Best Picture mix-up, this ceremony is surely to be watched with a keen eye. Will an upstart like Get Out stage a coup and win Best Picture? Who will and won’t make their acceptance speech a political moment? Will Chicago’s own Kartemquin Films take home both Oscars its nominated for? Watch it all from any number of Chicago parties (the one at the Siskel is best). Or if you’re like me, stay home with a bottle of wine, takeout and Twitter and soak it all in without any of those pesky distractions.
Chicago Feminist Film Festival – perhaps better referenced as a mini-festival, the three-day event hosted by Columbia College features mostly short films that “aims to address issues of gender, sexuality, race, and other forms of inequality often missing from mainstream media.” Founded by two Columbia faculty, one in film and the other in humanities, the events commence with a screening of Toronto International Film Festival selection The Future Ahead, about two female friends who fall in and out of each others lives over the years. Additional programming includes panel discussions and networking events, plus screenings of some of the best female-centric cinema you won’t see otherwise. What’s more, the whole thing is free and open to the public. Learn more here.
March 9 – April 5
European Union Film Festival – every March, the Gene Siskel Film Center outdoes even its own stellar year-round programming with their month-long film series that focuses on new and must-see films from across Europe. Over the course of four weeks, the arthouse cinema presents 61 films from every country in the European Union. Sixty one films! Every country! But don’t let the abundance lull you into a haze; most films only screen twice and just a few days apart, so when they’re gone, they’re gone. Highlights this year include: the Chicago premiere of Armando Ianucci’s The Death of Stalin, Souvenir starring Isabelle Huppert, and the closing night selection The Young Karl Marx by Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro). See the full list of films and plan your European adventure here. Editor’s Note: the team at Third Coast Review will preview each week’s selections, so watch this space!
March 13 – May 16
Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season Six – Launched by Sophia Wong Boccio, who previously managed the Chicago International Film Festival, Asian Pop-Up Cinema is perhaps Chicago’s best kept film secret. Essentially a one-woman-show, twice a year Wong Boccio pulls together more than a dozen films from across the Asian continent to share with Chicago audiences. The series loses a bit of steam as its presented as a weekly series rather than a consolidated festival, but it’s worth keeping track of what’s screening when here. From a South Korean/Japanese c0-production to open this season to Chicago premieres of some of the most acclaimed recent cinema from the other side of the world, several screenings even include special guests and post-film Q&As. Learn more here.
Rebel Without a Cause at The Logan – one of the most indulgent cinematic pleasures is seeing on the big screen a film that doesn’t often get such treatment. Thankfully, Chicago’s independent theater scene is rife with opportunities to do just that, and The Logan takes a stab at it with three screenings of the James Dean classic Rebel Without a Cause. The theater’s website doesn’t indicate on what format they’re screening the film; here’s hoping it’s 35mm, but we may not be that lucky. Though it’s tempting to pass on this one if it’s (gasp!) screening digitally, consider taking one for the team; better to see it digitally that not see it at all, no? Learn more here.
Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson’s latest film, a stop-motion adventure in a world of dogs, just won Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival, where it was the first animated film to ever open that storied festival. Boasting a cast of voices a mile long (seriously, it’s really long), the movie creates a world all its own, a mash-up of “what if dogs ruled the world?” and near-future Japan, where a mass flu outbreak is blamed on the dogs and they’re banished to a trash island until crisis is averted. Early reviews are glowing, but that presumes that you’re already a fan of Anderson’s trademark style, whimsical and colorful and quirky. Isle of Dogs opens in Chicago on March 23.