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“Filmmaker Friday” at Stage 18 Chicago This Friday

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A while ago I mentioned on this very blog that I am producing Roy’s World, a feature-length documentary about the writer Barry Gifford that is being directed by my friend Rob Christopher. This innovative film, now deep in post-production, will consist almost entirely of archival footage of Chicago from the 1950s and 1960s and is being narrated by the great actors Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor. I’m happy to report that Rob and I will be co-hosting the inaugural “Filmmaker Friday” networking event at Stage 18 Chicago this Friday, July 13th, from 4:30-6:00pm. Any and all active IFP Chicago members are invited to come hang out with other members, find potential collaborators, and make connections. There may even be a little Roy’s World teaser unveiled at this event as well… We hope to see you there!

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Filmmaker Interview: Michael Curtis Johnson


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Candyman (Rose)
2. Happy-Go-Lucky (Leigh)
3. Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong)
4. The Thin Blue Line (Morris)
5. Taxi Driver (Scorsese)
6. The Blues Brothers (Landis)
7. I Vitelloni (Fellini)
8. Grizzly Man (Herzog)
9. 3-Iron (Kim)
10. Days of Heaven (Malick)


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Breathless (Godard)
2. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (Lynch)
3. Black Girl (Sembene)
4. The Art of Sitting Quietly and Doing Nothing (Alonzo)
5. Within Our Gates (Micheaux)
6. Wanda (Loden)
7. Memories of Murder (Bong)
8. Meet Me in St. Louis (Minnelli)
9. North By Northwest (Hitchcock)
10. My Friend Dahmer (Meyers)


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Godard Mon Amour (Hazanavicius)
2. Happy Death Day (Landon)
3. Los Olvidados (Bunuel)
4. Golden Exits (Perry)
5. Cooley High (Schultz)
6. Breathless (Godard)
7. Failan (Song)
8. Zama (Martel)
9. Medium Cool (Wexler)
10. Some Like It Hot (Wilder)


Maggie Scrantom’s ATOMS OF ASHES

The following review appeared at Time Out Chicago today. I hope everyone sees this wonderful short.
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Women of the Now, the female-centric video and event production company founded by local director Layne Marie Williams (An Atramentous Mind), celebrates its one year anniversary with a short-film showcase at the New 400 Theater this Sunday, April 25. There is plenty of exciting work included in the 3-hour lineup but writer/director Maggie Scrantom’s Atoms of Ashes deserves special mention.

Atoms of Ashes is a surprisingly confident, even masterfully made dramatic short, especially considering that Scrantom, an actress who has appeared on Chicago Med and Chicago P.D., has no directing credits yet listed on the Internet Movie Database. Written with Hilary Williams and June Thiele, Scran offers a poetic examination of one woman’s grief in the wake of having a miscarriage. Beginning with a shot of an ultrasound and continuing with scenes of a would-be mother (Siobhan Reddy-Best) imagining a future of quality time spent with a daughter who will never be born (Kara Grace Williams), this emotionally affecting, sci-fi-tinged mood piece combines powerful but wordless performances with an evocative score, quotes from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which appear onscreen as hand-written text, and startling visual effects involving the solar system, to conjure, not unlike Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life in miniature, a sense of the cosmic and the eternal. The result is an exhilarating journey through cycles of love, loss and rebirth that seems to encapsulate the entire universe in seven minutes.

More information about Women of the Now’s 2018 Anniversary Showcase can be found on the WOTN website.


Mercury in Retrograde on the Radio / Samantha’s Amazing Acrocats at the Siskel

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My film Mercury in Retrograde will be featured on two radio shows this weekend in advance of our screenings at the Gene Siskel Film Center. First up: you can listen to me talk about the film on Saturday, February 10 at 9am on the popular “Live from the Heartland” show (88.7FM in Chicago or online at WLUW.org). Then on Sunday, February 11, tune in to hear the great Najarra Townsend and me reminisce about making MiR at 8am on Gary Zidek’s invaluable “Arts Section” show (90.9FM in Chicago or online at WDCB.org).

Speaking of the Siskel, I will be moderating a Q&A there with director Jacob Feiring following a screening of his documentary Samantha’s Amazing Acrocats at 3pm this Saturday. Much like last year’s surprise hit Kedi, it’s a must-see for lovers of both cats and cinema. Hope to see you there!


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