Commissar, says the Now York Daily News, is "glasnost's greatest gift." Set in the Ukraine shortly after the Russian revolution, the film is a powerful indictment of Soviet anti-Semitism. Filmmaker Aleksandr Askoldov was fired upon completion of the project in 1967 and has not been allowed to work since. But his film, an Academy Award nominee this year that has been released exclusively in the West, has set critics and audiences on fire. Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton, screens Commissar at 6:45 and 9 tonight. It's in Russian with English subtitles. Admission is $5, $3 for Facets members. For more, call 281-4114.
"When you go to a comedy club, you never get to see more than one woman on a bill--in fact, it's rare to see even one woman," says Diane Burroughs, the founder of Chicago Women in Comedy. "But by putting us all up at once, we can show our different styles. We're not 'female comedians' but ten women who happen to be comics." The collective uses a revolving roster that features four to six members per show, each woman doing her own stand-up routine. They'll be appearing all weekend at Catch a Rising Star comedy and music club at the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker. Show times are 8 and 10:30 tonight, 8:30 and 11 PM on Saturday, and Sunday at 8:30 PM. Tickets are $10 tonight and tomorrow, and $8 Sunday; there's always a two-drink minimum. For more, call 565-1234.
Gerhard Richter is widely recognized as one of the most important European figures in contemporary art. His first paintings were copies of snapshots and newspaper photos, but later his style was formally reductive, characterized by color charts and monochromatic gray paintings. Recently the pendulum has swung back, however, to paintings that explode with color. Gerhard Richter: Paintings, a retrospective of more than 70 of his pieces, ends its run this weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 237 E. Ontario. Saturday hours are 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 5. Admission is $4; $2 for students, seniors, and children under 16; members and children under 10 get in free. Call 280-5161.
Don Meckley is our town's most distinguished shortwave radio player, as well as the inventor of such unique instruments as the hydro-kalimba and typewriter mbira. He'll be making his own brand of music tonight as part of Sound Performances, a program devoted to artists who focus on the aural. Also featured are Lou Mallozzi, M.W. Burns, Stuart Grais, and Key Ransone. It starts at 8 PM at Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont. Admission is $5, $4 for members. Call 231-8788 for more.
Under Harold Washington, the city organized all its arts programs into the Department of Cultural Affairs. Also under Washington, a master cultural plan was developed. During Washington's 1987 campaign, artists responded to these attentions with unusually well organized support. Artists for Washington was an official--and, for Chicago, a unique--affinity group during the reelection effort. It will commemorate the first anniversary of the mayor's death with an All Chicago Artists Tribute to Harold Washington this afternoon and evening from 4 until 8 at the Center for International Performance and Exhibition, 616 W. Adams. It's free. Call 559-0107.
"This is Harvey Milk," says the voice on the tape (transcribed in The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shiltz). "This is to be played only in the event of my death by assassination. . . . I fully realize that a person who stands for what I stand for . . . becomes the target or potential target for a person who is insecure, terrified, afraid or very disturbed." The first openly gay elected official in the United States, Milk eerily anticipated the violence that would end his life. To remember Milk and to draw attention to "crimes of hate" committed because of the victim's sexual orientation, race, religion, or sex, Horizons' AntiViolence Project and the Illinois Gay and Lesbian Task Force are sponsoring a Harvey Milk Memorial Service today at 5 PM at the Wellington Avenue Church, 615 W. Wellington. It's free. Call 472-6469.
If you like lively literary debate but stay away from most book-review groups because the titles are too academic or obscure, try The Best of the Bestsellers. Popularity and commercial success are no sins for this group, which gets together at 1:30 PM at the Rogers Park branch library, 6907 N. Clark. It's free. Call 764-0156.
When Yasser Arafat's PLO called for a Palestinian state recently, it offered for the first time to recognize Israel's right to exist. World reaction to the PLO's declaration was mixed, and Israel's was negative: there's virtually no way a Palestinian state could be carved out without the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Meron Benvenisti, director of the West Bank Data Project, will talk about day-to-day life in the territories, the relationship of Jewish settlers to the Palestinians, and the consequences of the Israeli presence in the West Bank. Changing Reality and Settlement Policies in the West Bank and Jerusalem is Benvenisti's topic at 8 PM at the Jewish Community Centers' Horwich site, 3003 W. Touhy. Tickets are $10. For more, call 675-2200.
A true artist/activist, Haki Madhubuti is the poet, editor, publisher, and educator who founded our town's Third World Press, one of only a handful of publishing houses dedicated to the black American experience. In Haki Madhubuti: Building a Community, part of the Public Library's series "The Political Artist," the south-side writer will discuss the TWP, the Institute of Positive Education, the Organization of Black American Culture, and other of his experiences. He'll also read from his own work, both old and new. The free program begins at 12:15 PM in the theater at the Cultural Center, 73 E. Washington. Call 346-3278.
Mayoral aspirants Larry Bloom and Danny Davis, both reform aldermen from Harold Washington's old City Council bloc, will appear tonight at the Fourth Annual Milton Rakove Scholarship Fund Forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The organizers, who've invited all the candidates, expect to see the other guys there, too. There's a wine and cheese reception at 4, then the forum begins at 5 in the Illinois Room of UIC's Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. Admission is $35, students $10. Call 413-3390 for more.
Christmas can be hell for non-Christians, who often feel left out during December's holiday overload. Even though Hanukkah often falls during the same period, it never gets the same kind of attention. "Let's Talk," a drop-in center for Jewish interfaith couples, tackles The December Dilemma at tonight's get-together. Sponsored by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and North Shore Congregation Israel, the discussion is free and begins at 7:30 at 1185 Sheridan Road, in Glencoe. Call 782-1477 for more information.
In a lot of ways, poet Allen Ginsberg has become the grand old man of the beat generation. Still writing (last year's White Shroud actually saw critical praise as well as brisk sales), Ginsberg is warm, funny, and always interesting. He'll be the guest of honor at Barbara's Bookstore's last big bash of the year at 7 tonight. Come meet him at 1434 N. Wells. It's free. Call 642-5044 for info.
Poetry, household appliances, allegory, and urban street scenes--all are addressed in Portfolio: The Mythic & the Mundane, a slide lecture featuring artists Amy Crum, Nina Belfor, Willie Kohler, and Erin Stack. Each artist will discuss his or her artistic development at 7:30 tonight at N.A.M.E. Gallery, 700 N. Carpenter. Admission is $2, free to gallery members. An exhibit of their work runs through December 9. Call 226-0671 for more.