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In this week's issue Fred Camper weighs in on the 21st Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival, which kicks off Tuesday, June 16, at the Gene Siskel Film Center and continues through Saturday, June 20, with programs at Chicago Filmmakers and Nightingale. Among the dozens of short films and videos screening are new works by Ken Jacobs, Ernie Gehr, Lewis Klahr, Jim Trainor, and Carolyn Faber.
My picks for this week are Away We Go, an offbeat comedy scripted by Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) and Vendela Vida, and Afghan Star, Havana Marking's new documentary about the Afghan version of American Idol. Also recommended and opening this week: Tony Scott's remake of the 70s thriller The Taking of Pelham 123, and Tulpan, the story of a young man in love, the woman who denies him, and camels that won't shut up.
This week the Gene Siskel Film Center continues its June series of indie comedies with The Baby Formula, about two lesbians who become the first couple to conceive without sperm; Goodbye Baby, about a young comedian who hones her act in a 12-step program; and Visioneers, a satire of corporate life starring Judy Greer and Zach Galifianakis (the twisted brother-in-law of The Hangover).
Three more new documentaries open this week: Left Field, about a Humboldt Park kickball league that was the subject of a recent Reader cover story; The Force Among Us, about the strange world of Star Wars fanatics; and Enlighten Up!, in which a skeptical New York journalist investigates yoga.
In repertory this week's best bets are the Errol Flynn swashbuckler Captain Blood (1935), playing Saturday and Sunday morning at the Music Box; the Vincente Minnelli classic The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), screening Wednesday at Northbrook Public Library; and the Max Ophuls melodramas Caught (1949) and The Reckless Moment (1949), both at Film Center.
And don't forget the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, including documentaries on the crimes of Augusto Pinochet, the assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and the U.S. government's legal maneuvering against alleged terrorist Sami Al-Arian. The festival opens tonight and runs through Thursday at Facets Cinematheque.