Best Alternative Film Venue

Critics' Picks

The Nightingale

1084 N. Milwaukee

nightingalecinema.org

Indie superproducer Ted Hope (American Splendor) is among the voices calling for the revival of old-school film societies as one way to rescue the cinematic experience from obsolescence in the face of online and mobile video. By fostering a sense of community and interaction among audiences and artists, film societies capitalize on the distinct value of going out to watch movies in a dark room with other people, making it competitive with the convenient but solitary small-screen experience.

If anyone in Chicago is nurturing this kind of scene, it’s the Nightingale, which presents art films, animation, and live events featuring local and international artists in a 120-year-old former tannery on Milwaukee Avenue. The Nightingale was founded by filmmakers and cinephiles Christy LeMaster, Patrick Friel, Ben Russell, JB Mabe, and Jennifer Fieber—many of the same folks who write for Cine-File (see Best Web site for Film Buffs). The Nightingale distinguishes itself with programming heavy on audience interaction and DJ-accompanied live video mixing of new works and classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Regular series include YouTube Assembly and White Light Cinema, and LeMaster has begun programming longer works at Cinema Borealis (1550 N. Milwaukee), the longtime screening loft of local projection guru James Bond.

LeMaster’s currently occupied with the Chicago Underground Film Festival, and the Nightingale has just two events scheduled for July: the Upgrade! Chicago multimedia screening series, July 13, and Bill Daniel’s “The Lost Pogo Dance Films, 1965-1987,” a collection of recently unearthed 16-millimeter music films featuring (mostly silent) footage of the Beatles, the Avengers, and Austin new wave bands, on July 25.