In the dead of a Chicago winter, all any of us can think about is the sun and warmth of summer, all the long days and warm breezes made for outdoor adventures. And then once it’s here, we remember how oppressive the temps can be, how even a day on the beach can sometimes take more effort than its worth. Thankfully, the city’s cinemas and movie-centric communities have us covered, with film festivals, networking events and, if you must, outdoor screenings. Here’s what we’ve got our eye on in August.
Black Harvest Film Festival —Returning for its 25th edition, Gene Siskel Film Center’s Black Harvest Film Festival runs throughout August featuring dozens of films (short and feature-length, narrative and documentary) from, by and about the black experience. A decent portion of the selected films have Chicago and Midwestern ties, including the opening night program featuring five world premiere short films from regional filmmakers. The month-long celebration culminates on August 29 with a special anniversary screening of Spike Lee’s Crooklyn (pictured above). Tickets and a full schedule are available here.
Rise + Shine at Stage 18 — Located inside Cinespace Film Studios on the southwest side, Stage 18 is a filmmaker-centric membership organization designed to foster networking and collaboration among Chicago’s creative professionals. On August 8, they open their doors to “unite Chicago’s womxn filmmakers” with Rise + Shine, a co-working and camaraderie event focused breakfast and connection. The inclusive nature of the event (“womxn/girls/ladies/females/femmes/moms/thems/y’alls/babes…”) is enough to make it intriguing; with presenters including Mezcal Media Collective and Women of the Now, it’s sure to be informative, too. Learn more and get tickets here.
Destroy Your Art — This entirely unique event is part film screening, part performance art and part party, all of which add up to one not-to-miss night. Now in its third year, the brainchild of filmmaker Jack C. Newell and film programmer Rebecca Fons invites five Chicago filmmakers to create a short film (5 minutes or less) that will screen the night of the event…and then never again. Immediately after the film ends, the filmmaker literally destroys their art; this year, the method of destruction is on fire, literally: it’s a blowtorch. Come for the event’s take on the ephemeral state of art, stay for an after-party celebrating the best of Chicago’s independent film scene. More information and tickets are available here.
Damaged Goods at Comfort Film — The film programmers at Comfort Station, the arts and gallery space in the heart of Logan Square, present free (donations encouraged) screenings every Wednesday night, and on August 14 they’ll host a six-episode screening of a new web series, Damaged Goods. Directed by Vincent Martell, who co-wrote with Zak Payne and K.B. Woodson, the series follows four Chicago roommates as they grapple with a loss of self-identity and the ensuing uncertainties. Get all the details of the screening at the event listing here.
Music Box Theatre’s 90th Anniversary — The famed movie house on Southport Avenue first opened its doors on August 22, 1929 and ninety years later, they’re celebrating the milestone with a week of special screenings and events. Stop by on Thursday, August 22 for a 35mm screening of Innocents of Paris, an early “talkie” that would’ve been one of the first films the theater screened, or stay all night for the “Dolly Parton 9 to 5er,” a bit of ingenious programming that slates some of Parton’s best and most fun films back to back from 9pm to 5am. The week wraps up with an Audience Choice double feature, screening The Terminator and Robocop back-to-back and on 35mm. More on the iconic theater’s 90th Anniversary programming is online here.
Movies In the Parks — Summer may be waning (didn’t it just get here?), but the free outdoor screenings presented across the city by the Chicago Park District continue for weeks to come. August highlights include family friendly fare like Monsters University and A Wrinkle in Time to classics like Meet Me in St. Louis and The Wizard of Oz. With screenings all over the city on essentially any night of the week, there’s no reason to sit at home and queue up another Netflix original. Grab a lawn chair, pack a picnic and make a night of it. The full list of film screenings is available online here.
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