Chicago Alt.film Fest
The second annual Chicago Alt.film Fest, a festival of American independent films, runs Wednesday, June 9, through next Sunday, June 13, at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. Tickets are $5, except for the opening program on Wednesday, which is $25, including a postscreening party. A $25 pass admits you to six screenings (not including the opening and closing programs); for more information call 773-525-4559.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9
"Films with an independent point of view" is this festival's catchphrase, though I can't imagine what differentiates this competently made teenage sex movie from other competently made teenage sex movies, apart from the absence of a studio logo at the beginning. Maybe it's the independent sense of humor expressed in writer-director Adrian Fulle's dialogue: "Women are like Democrats, man. You can't live with them, but you can sure get fucked by them." Just as you have to rule out the existence of female Democrats to find this funny, you'll probably have to rule out the existence of independent films unencumbered by studiothink to find this even halfway bearable. Once you've accomplished that, you may or may not find that the skillful camera work and adequate performances--by Michael Muhney, Mary Kay Cook, Jon Collins, Jim Slonina, Heidi Mokrycki, and Jeff Anderson--enhance this familiar tale of sexual rivalry between roommates and sexual confidence triumphing over insecurity, complete with elevator music. (JR) A world premiere. On the same program, three shorts: Steve Stein's %, Roy Unger's Requiem, and Stuart Matz's Let's Meet Johnny. (6:30)
THURSDAY, JUNE 10
Havoc ensues when a frustrated writer falls in love with two women who share the same given name. Neil Turitz directed. On the same program: Digital Gremlin for Windows, a short by Chris Clements. (5:30)
Director Clay Eide and scriptwriter Todd Bulman try to update the film noir with this tale of two small-town brothers, the dime-store femme fatale they both love, and a robbery plot that goes awry. The filmmakers provide some essential noir elements--seduction, betrayal, male-bonding, a tawdry setting, interplay of light and shadow--but the three main characters talk way too much (in what Bulman imagines as working-class lingo) and explain their past way too often. Jay Underwood as the volatile renegade and Joe Reynolds as his sappy brother generate some tension, helped along by the nervy score and eerie black-and-white cinematography, but they're not enough to lift the film above the ordinary. (TS) On the same program: Vigilance, a short by Daniel Lawrence. (7:15)
Local performance artist Lisa Kotin has staged a pair of one-woman shows in Chicago playing a variety of working women, and this 1997 feature, which she scripted and codirected with Johnny White, develops the idea into a heartfelt, bittersweet tale of an artist's midlife crisis. At 40 Jeanette is temping to pursue her big showbiz break, while her biological clock ticks on and her husband loses patience with her ambitions. Many of the film's stock situations border on caricature--Jeanette's Jewish parents want grandchildren, her boss subjects her to imperious harangues, a lascivious agent comes on to her over lunch--but Kotin enlivens them with fast-motion sequences and imaginative camera angles. True to its source, this slight but madcap comedy centers on Kotin's performance as the goofy but lovable protagonist. Among the Chicagoans who round out the cast are Amy Landecker, William J. Norris, and Byrne and Joyce Piven. (TS) (9:30)