Best new local production (documentary)

Corner Stores

Though only 25 minutes long, this incisive documentary (which screened last year as part of the Chicago Palestine Film Festival) says a good deal about inner-city America in general and Englewood in particular, and it delivers a moving character portrait to boot. Director Amina Waheed, an Indian-Canadian immigrant who's worked on Frontline and Al-Jazeera's America Tonight, profiles Falah Farhoudeh (aka "Abu Muhammad"), a Palestinian emigre in his late 60s who's operated a convenience store in the south-side neighborhood for more than a decade. Farhoudeh is no mere business owner but a father figure to many of his customers; his positive relationships seem even more heartening in contrast to the film's powerful images of urban blight, which Waheed likens to that of a third-world war zone.