Friday 8/15 - Thursday 8/21
15 FRIDAY Over the last two years Fast Forward Film Festival organizers Sean U'Ren and Adam "Atom" Paul have staged nine competitions and watched more than 200 short films. This weekend they're dusting off some of their favorites for a second look. "We decided to have a retrospective because there were a lot of movies that Atom and I liked that hadn't been awarded any prizes and would just kind of go the way of the dinosaur if we didn't reshow them," says U'Ren. The 20 to 30 short videos included are all loosely inspired by themes assigned by Paul and U'Ren at the start of each festival, and all were conceived, edited, and shot in under 24 hours. The results range from the rough, haphazard, and clearly last-minute to the shockingly polished; some are purely impressionistic, others are absurdist narratives complete with characters and a story arc. In one snowy scene from Marauder's Mustache, an actor clad in a sleeping bag and a Stormtrooper mask battles another actor disguised as a giant Mr. Potato Head. The Producers: A Fast Forward Retrospective starts at 8 PM at Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton. Admission is $5, and it's BYOB. Seating is limited. For more information call 773-263-7057.
When Michael Workman and Marie Walz started publishing Bridge magazine out of their apartment in November 2000, they didn't realize it would grow into an arts empire. Two and a half years later the triannual journal has 600 subscribers, 21 people on the masthead, a West Loop space it shares with 1R Gallery, and a Web edition. The second-anniversary issue features writing by everyone from Miranda July to Bill Ayers to Rick Moody, a cover by Galesburg-born photographer Chris Verene, and a DVD of short films. "What we're doing now is developing the programming side of Bridge," says Workman--like the sand sculpture competition they're hosting with 1R Gallery at Oak Street Beach next weekend. Tonight's benefit party for Bridge magazine starts at 9 PM at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western. On the bill is music by Elvin, Apartment, and New Boss; video projections of artist Eric Fensler's G.I. Joe Public Service Announcements; and a raffle of prizes donated by local businesses like Specimen Guitars, Jinx Cafe, and Uprise Skateboards. It's $10. For more information call 312-421-2227 or go to www.bridgemagazine.org.
16 SATURDAY It's been 100 years since Wilbur and Orville Wright first took to the skies at Kitty Hawk, and 45 since the first Chicago Air and Water Show. Two million people are expected to crowd the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak for the free exposition this weekend; drivers, consider yourselves warned. The city has imported squads of A-10 Thunderbolts, F-18 Hornets, F-14 Tomcats, and B-1B Lancers to buzz the skyline from 11 to 4 today and tomorrow, August 17, and starting at 9 both days there'll be waterskiing and wakeboard demonstrations at North Avenue Beach. Call 312-744-3370 or see www.cityofchicago.org/specialevents for more information.
Not thrilled by military displays of precision flying? For the tenth year running, members of the What Will We Give These the Chosen of the World Coalition will be passing out flyers protesting military spending and recruitment efforts. They'll be at the North Avenue pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive from 9:30 AM to 4 PM today and tomorrow, August 17. Call 773-525-8310, ext. 406, for more information.
17 SUNDAY "What can be said about Drifting Clouds can be said about hangdog Finnish humor in general: it's making the best of a depressing situation," wrote Jonathan Rosenbaum in this paper five years ago, when Aki Kaurismaki's 1996 feature played at the Film Center. The bleakly comic story of the trials of a husband and wife hit with simultaneous unemployment follows the pair as they scour Helsinki for work. The movie screens today at 1 PM at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, as part of the series From Finland With Love: Kaurismaki Goes America. It'll show again tomorrow, August 18, at 7 PM. Tickets are $7; call 773-281-9075 for more.
18 MONDAY Today is the last day of the last installment in the Museum of Science and Industry's six-week series "Experiments: Science & Art," a project designed to provoke new ways of thinking about science through performance and visual art. Drew Browning and Annette Barbier's Waiting in Line--which opened its five-day run on August 14--is an interactive computer installation that allows people waiting to enter the museum's Great Hall to create Lissajous figures, those sine wave forms like the one in the opening sequence of the TV show The Outer Limits. Participants hold up sheets of colored paper, video cameras record them, and Browning and Barbier's program uses the colors to determine vertical and horizontal variables for the constantly changing patterns, which are displayed on nine video screens. Admission to the museum is $9 for adults, $7.50 for seniors, $5 for kids under 12. It's at 57th and Lake Shore Drive and open 9:30 to 4 weekdays, 9:30 to 5 Saturday, and 11 to 5 Sunday. Call 773-684-1414 or see www.msichicago.org for more.
19 TUESDAY More than one review of the Renee Zellweger-Ewan McGregor vehicle Down With Love, that candy-colored homage to the G-rated sex comedies of the 50s and early 60s, drew a line straight back to 1959's Pillow Talk, a frisky tale of mistaken identity that sealed Doris Day's status as America's favorite virgin. Tonight at 8:15 it'll be screened for free in Grant Park's Butler Field (near Monroe and Lake Shore Drive) as part of the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival. Also on the bill is Paul McDade's short film Transmissions. BYO picnic dinner and chair, but don't bring your dog--no pets are allowed. Call 312-744-3370 or see www.cityofchicago.org/specialevents.
20 WEDNESDAY When Jill Nelson needed a publisher for her first novel, Sexual Healing, she turned to local editor Doug Seibold, who last year founded the independent Agate Publishing. The sexually explicit tale of two successful African-American women in their 40s who open a male brothel had been rejected by several editors before Nelson showed it to Seibold. But he'd edited her first book, a scabrous--and best-selling--memoir of her days as a reporter for the Washington Post, and after reading this one he signed it as the debut title for his fledgling press. Sexual Healing came out in June, and their second collaboration seems to have paid off--it's "a post-feminist fable of sexual empowerment that's smart, explicit, and side-splittingly funny," raved a recent review in Ebony. Nelson will read from the book tonight at 7:30 at Barbara's Bookstore, 1100 Lake in Oak Park (708-848-9140). She also appears Tuesday, August 19, at 7 at Mothaland, 1635 E. 55th (773-955-6969), and Thursday, August 21, at 7:30 at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark (773-769-9299). All events are free.
21 THURSDAY The building at 8 E. Randolph opened in 1939 as a Telenews Theater--one of dozens around the country that specialized in showing newsreels--but was soon converted into a feature film venue and renamed the Loop Theater. In the mid-80s it was turned into retail space; more recently it's been owned by the city and home to the Noble Fool Theater Company. After that group moved down the street in April 2002, the city cut a deal with five small theater groups: in exchange for cleaning up the space and getting it up to code, they'd get a free performance venue. It's only an interim arrangement, says a Department of Cultural Affairs spokesperson--the city's currently negotiating with a developer to buy the building, and by next June it'll probably be demolished to make room for "a condo or something like that." In the meantime Shattered Globe Theatre, LID Productions, Hermit Theatre, Silk Road Theatre Project, and Tireswing Theatre are on deck. Shattered Globe (which is also acting as the building's landlord and taking care of scheduling the second-floor rehearsal spaces) inaugurates the new Loop Theater tonight with a revival of its recent production of Judgment at Nuremberg. The show runs through October 15, with performances at 7:30 PM Thursday and Friday, 8 PM Saturday, and 3 PM Sunday. Tickets range from $22 to $25; call 312-744-5667.