Category Archives: Chicago Movies

RELATIVE World Premiere at Gasparilla

My new film RELATIVE will have its World Premiere at the 15th annual Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, March 12 at 7:30pm (EST). Joining me on the red carpet will be many members of the cast and crew. The screening will be held at the AMC Westshore and tickets are on sale NOW. The venue holds approximately 100 people and the screening is expected to sell out so if you would like to attend please get your tix in advance here.

Also, this Sunday, 2/27 at 1:30pm (CST), Rebecca Martin, film critic and publisher of Cinema Femme Magazine, will host a live video round-table Q&A with five of the actresses from RELATIVE (Wendy Robie, Clare Cooney, Emily Lape, Melissa DuPrey and Elizabeth Stam) plus cinematographer Olivia Aquilina. You can watch that 30-minute conversation on YouTube here.


RELATIVE is a Chicago Film Project Production

Big RELATIVE news: My new movie is an official Newcity/Chicago Film Project production. I am so excited to be working with Executive Producers Brian and Jan Hieggelke to bring this film to theaters next year. Congrats to the entire RELATIVE team! Check out the full story in SCREEN Magazine (with quotes from Brian, Jan and yours truly): https://screenmag.com/brian-and-jan-hieggelke-and-chicago-film-project-announce-next-feature/


RELATIVE in Screen Mag Again

We are deep into post-production on RELATIVE and every time I see the footage, I couldn’t feel more proud of the work put in by our tremendous cast and crew. I anticipate a World Premiere in early 2022. In the meantime, Screen Magazine published a second article to coincide with the wrap of our shoot that you might be interested in checking out. It features new quotes from me and producer/actress Clare Cooney about the making of the film:


RELATIVE in Screen Magazine

Nice story about RELATIVE in Screen Magazine:


Talking MERCURY IN RETROGRADE on the CinemaJaw Podcast!

I had a blast talking about MERCURY IN RETROGRADE, which continues its virtual run at the Music Box Theatre through 4/30, on the CinemaJaw podcast. We also play some fun games and I ramble enthusiastically about Mizoguchi’s SANSHO THE BAILIFF, all while getting increasingly bombed on red wine. It’s a fun listen – check it out here!


ROY’S WORLD at the 2021 Beloit International Film Festival

The virtual edition of the great Beloit International Film Festival is now live. That means that Wisconsin and Illinois residents have between now and February 28 to stream ROY’S WORLD: BARRY GIFFORD’S CHICAGO, a documentary produced by yours truly, directed by Rob Christopher and narrated by Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor. I was last at BIFF with RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO in 2019 and it is one of my favorite regional film fests. Please visit the BIFF website for info regarding tickets for a film rental and the Zoom Q&A!


Esthetic Lens: Creative Quarantine

It was an honor to be profiled recently by Esthetic Lens magazine. I got to talk about the postponed RELATIVE shoot and what I’ve been up to during quarantine. You can check it out here.

mgs


Stephen Cone’s HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY

I wrote the following review of Stephen Cone’s HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY for Cine-file Chicago.

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Stephen Cone’s HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY (US)
Available to stream on the Criterion Channel with subscription

Across eight features and numerous shorts, Chicago-based independent filmmaker Stephen Cone has carved out an indelible niche in America’s 21st-century cinematic landscape. The son of a southern Baptist minister who came to filmmaking by way of theater, Cone has made a name for himself by chronicling the eternal conflict between the ways of the flesh and the spirit — always with an impressively humanistic eye and often within an adolescent/LGBTQ context. His heartfelt movies have steadily won over festival audiences and critics since THE WISE KIDS premiered nearly a decade ago but Cone stands to gain deservedly wider recognition than ever before now that the prestigious Criterion Channel is spotlighting three of his best films. HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY, Cone’s seventh feature, is an ideal introduction to his work for the uninitiated. It’s a coming-of-age story in which an individual’s coming of age is telescoped into a single day and location: the titular 17th birthday party of the son of a “megachurch” pastor. The party takes place mainly in and around a backyard swimming pool and is populated by a large cast of teenage characters (i.e., Henry Gamble’s religious and secular friends) as well as their adult parents. Central among the many external and internal conflicts depicted in this charged suburban milieu is Henry’s coming to terms with his sexual identity. Although it has its cinematic forebears (an opening scene in which the closeted-gay Henry masturbates with his hetero best friend Gabe is an explicit homage to Andre Techine’s WILD REEDS), the film ultimately impresses for its cultural specificity: Cone has stated that the starting point for his original screenplay was the act of making a list of people he knew from childhood, a strategy that clearly pays dividends when it comes to such humorously authentic lines of dialogue as “Are you churched?” or “Well, Jesus drank.” Cone also admirably avoids stereotypes — he’s especially good at showing, in a realistic manner, how the tiniest cracks can appear in the belief systems of his evangelical characters — and his script is brought to life by a fine ensemble cast (Nina Ganet as Henry’s repressed older sister Autumn and Elizabeth Laidlaw as their long-suffering mother are especially good) and Jason Chiu’s masterful widescreen cinematography. (2015, 87 min, MGS)


RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO Live Commentary!

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For those who missed the Rendezvous in Chicago Live Commentary with me and Clare Cooney, broadcast on Facebook last Sunday night, we recorded the video on Zoom so you still have the chance to watch it. I had a lot of fun doing this – mainly because Clare brought so much insight (and humor) to her observations on what it’s like to act in and be the casting director for an indie film. Please note you are meant to watch the film simultaneously with the commentary video. Here’s how it works:

1. Pull up Rendezvous in Chicago on Tubi here.
2. Pull up the Facebook Live video (in a separate browser or on a separate device) here.
3. Press play on the Live Commentary video first.
4. When I say “Go”in the Live Commentary video (after counting down from five), press play on the Tubi video.
5. Enjoy both videos simultaneously!


COOL APOCALYPSE in Movies in the Parks’ At Home Series / MERCURY IN RETROGRADE on Amazon & Vimeo


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My first feature, 2015’s no-budget Cool Apocalypse, is now available to stream for the first time ever – thanks to the Chicago Park District’s Movies in the Parks’ “Onscreen: At Home” series. You can stream it for FREE between now and next Monday, May 3, at the Park District’s website.

Meanwhile, my 2017 feature, Mercury in Retrograde, hot on the heels of its “virtual run” at the Gene Siskel Film Center, is also now available for the first time to rent/buy on Digital via Amazon Prime and Vimeo on Demand. Peep the official Mercury website for all of your options.

Rendezvous in Chicago, my 2018 feature, is, of course, still available to stream for free via TubiTV or Amazon Prime.

This means you could conceivably stream all three of the films in my “Chicago Relationship Trilogy” in the next few days for the low, low cost of $1.99 (the price of streaming Mercury in SD on Amazon). If you see any of these films and have any feedback you would like to share, feel free to reach out to me me at mikeygsmith@gmail.com.

Cheers, Mike

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