Best New Local Production (Dramatic)

Crimes Against Humanity

Critics' Picks

When I interviewed writer-director Jerzy Rose last summer, he named Luis Buñuel as a major influence on his second feature, Crimes Against Humanity, which screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center and Doc Films before playing at the Slamdance Film Festival in January. Rose's admiration for Buñuel makes him practically unique among up-and-coming American independents; nowadays every new filmmaker wants to be John Cassavetes, Terrence Malick, or Michael Haneke. The hero of Crimes Against Humanity, a dean's assistant at the University of Chicago, becomes convinced there's a satanist cabal in the ethnomusicology department, and numerous absurd complications follow, many of them quite funny. The cast is a who's who of Chicago experimental filmmakers, and Rose manages to translate into narrative form the irreverent humor and formal playfulness of much local experimental work.