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 in Chicago. Admis-sion is $5, and it's BYOB. Seating is limited. For more information call 773-263-7057.
The folks running the show at the Woodstock Mozart Festival are turning the spotlight on their own talent this final weekend of the annual event. Artistic adviser Mark Peskanov will conduct and play violin in tonight's concert, which also features trumpeter Matthew Lee, flutist Robin Fellows, and oboist Deborah Stevenson. The program includes Bach's Brandenburg Concerto no. 2 and Mozart's Diverti-mento no. 15 in B-flat. It'll be repeated Saturday, August 16; both shows start at 8. Saturday afternoon at 4, Peskanov and festival general director and pianist Anita Whalen will present an all-Mozart chamber concert with members of the festival orchestra. Evening tickets range from $20 to $42; afternoon admission is $20. The festival is at the historic Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren, on the Woodstock town square. Call 815-338-5300 for more information.
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 Chicago's 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 in Chicago from 9:30 AM to 4 PM today and tomorrow, August 17. Call 773-525-8310, ext. 406, for more information.
"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 in Chicago, 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.
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 in Chicago 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.
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 in Chicago) 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.
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 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 appears in Chicago 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.
Mars is closer to Earth now than it's been for nearly 60,000 years. At a distance of 34.6 million miles, it's currently the third brightest object in the night sky--after the moon and Venus. The Planetary Studies Foundation says Mars's spectacular orange-red coloring and polar ice caps are clearly visible through a telescope. In honor of this celestial special event, the foundation is presenting a lecture by meteorite researcher Kevin Cole and an exhibit of martian meteorites, along with a chance for the public to view the red planet up close. It starts at 8 PM at 4405 Three Oaks Road in Crystal Lake. A peek through one of the foundation's telescopes is free; admission to the lecture and meteorite show is $5 for adults, $2 for children 12 and under. Call 815-477-7704.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ssgt. Sean White.