Friday 12/12 - Thursday 12/18
12 FRIDAY "I'm not a real political kind of guy, but it was a wonderful time--whether you liked Harold Washington or not, people were engaged politically," says musician Ed Wilkerson. "People knew the issues and talked about what the City Council was voting on each week. Nowadays nobody really knows what goes on in City Council. Things get passed, but it's a rubber stamp kind of situation. People don't talk about politics with as much passion." Tonight Wilkerson, leader of the jazz ensemble 8 Bold Souls, will unveil a few scenes from his jazz opera in progress, Harold in the City. He says he talked about the project for ten years before enlisting his sister Elizabeth, a lawyer and writer, to tackle the libretto. "Getting her involved has given me a much broader vision of it," he says. "And having a collaborator forces you to follow through." The performance--part of HotHouse's Innovative Composers Project commissioning new works--takes place at 9 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo. Tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors (312-362-9707 or www.hothouse.net). See the Critic's Choice in Section Three for more.
13 SATURDAY William S. Burroughs and Anthony Balch's cut-up film Towers Open Fire, Carl Dreyer's motor safety industrial short They Caught the Ferry, and Buster Keaton's The High Sign are among the picks on a program called "Jim Jarmusch's Favorite Short Films," which screens tonight at 8 as part of this weekend's Movieside Film Festival. Afterward the independent filmmaker will be interviewed by Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum; it's Jarmusch's first such talk in Chicago, and it took some two years to set up, according to festival organizer Rusty Nails. The evening starts at 6 with a performance by the band Joan of Arc and a showing of the rarely seen Jarmusch short Int. Trailer. Night, followed by his 1986 film Down by Law. It all takes place at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $9 in advance, $10 at the door (773-856-5220). The festival runs through tomorrow night; for a complete schedule see the sidebar in Section Two or go to www.movieside.com.
In 1973, inspired by a London filmmakers' co-op, a group of local film artists launched Filmgroup at N.A.M.E. Gallery to spotlight avant-garde work. The co-op renamed itself Chicago Filmmakers in 1977, and these days offers classes in everything from directing to digital editing and produces the annual Reeling and Onion City film festivals. "It's been 25 years of ongoing struggle because we've remained committed to our original vision--to screen the least commercial work possible," says Brenda Webb, the group's executive director. "I'm proud of the fact we've been able to stay true to that mission." Tonight's Chicago Filmmakers 30th Anniversary Extravaganza will include screenings of work by past members and teachers--including Adele Friedman, Animal Charm, Chris Sullivan, Tom Palazzolo, Kartemquin Films, and Reader contributor Bill Stamets. There will also be film and video installations, a DJ, and live performances by Lou Mallozzi and Robert Metrick, Cin Salach & Ten Tongues, and jazz musicians Tatsu Aoki and Jonathan Chen (who'll accompany a screening of Aoki's Puzzle III). It starts at 8 at Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark. Tickets are $25, $15 for students. Call 773-293-1447 or visit www.chicagofilmmakers.org.
Heather McAdams and husband Chris Ligon--who now live in Delaware--are back in town tonight hosting their Country Calendar Show, in which local bands cover work by artists featured in McAdams's 2004 illustrated calendar. The lineup includes Kelly Kessler & the Wichita Shut-Ins (covering Bill Monroe), Neko Case (Loretta Lynn), Sally Timms and Jon Langford (Buck Owens), and Kent Kessler (Ernest Tubb). McAdams and Ligon will also screen films featuring the calendar's country legends. It starts at 9 at FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt in Berwyn. Tickets are $15; call 708-788-2118. For more on the calendar, e-mail Filmjamboree@yahoo.com.
14 SUNDAY Exelon owns 13 of the state's 14 nuclear reactors, and if the legislature hadn't stonewalled the company's recent bids to raise rates and purchase Illinois Power, it'd also control the remaining site, in downstate Clinton. "They wanted the legislature to mandate higher rates so they could purchase the company and its reactor site and proceed with building a [second] reactor in Clinton," says antinuke activist Dave Kraft, director of the Evanston-based Nuclear Energy Information Service. He'll discuss the links between the proposed Clinton reactor, the pronuclear provisions in the Bush administration's energy bill, and the international nuclear weapons scene at a talk today called Nuclear Relapse, or Why "Know Nukes" Should Lead to "No Nukes" from 3 to 5 at the Unitarian Church of Evanston (1330 Ridge in Evanston; 847-864-1318). It's free, although donations to NEIS are requested. Kraft will give a "warm-up presentation" Saturday night at 8 at the College of Complexes at the Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln. It's $3, and purchase of food or drink is required (312-353-0446 or www.collegeofcomplexes.org). For more on nukes see www.neis.org.
15 MONDAY Tribune columnist and WGN radio host Rick Kogan was Ann Landers's editor during the last five years of her life as well as a close friend. His new book, America's Mom: The Life, Lessons, and Legacy of Ann Landers, tackles both professional and personal aspects of the advice columnist's rise after landing the prized gig at the Sun-Times in 1955, covering her feud with her twin sister (Dear Abby), her divorce, and allegations that she recycled letters. Kogan will give a free reading tonight at 6 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State (312-747-4080).
16 TUESDAY 'Tis the season of Harold Washington, it seems. The folks behind Barbershop are looking to make a movie about the Council Wars, and tonight is the world premiere of Nwenna Kai Gates and David Akinde's video documentary Harold Washington: The Movement, the Moment, the Man. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and Washington's former press secretary, Alton Miller--who's working on a novel about his old boss. It runs from 6 to 9 at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark. Admission is free, but reservations are required; call 312-642-4600.
"It's going to be really silly, I think," says a spokesperson about tonight's free Digital Christmas program at the Chicago Cultural Center. The updated take on the holiday will be emceed by electronic performance artist Lord of the Yum Yum (Paul Velat), who will be available for digital photo ops dressed as Santa (sans beard and belly). Tap dancer Reggio "the Hoofer" McLaughlin will perform excerpts from his holiday show The Nut Tapper, and Cycle 60 (aka Enrico Benjamin) will present new, danceable versions of holiday favorites, complete with visuals. The evening will close with karaoke overseen by local musician Steve Munoz. It begins at 6 with DJ Josh Werner spinning discs and two people in teapot costumes serving tea and cookies (a tie-in with the Cultural Center's "Artful Teapot" exhibit, which runs through January 4). It's at the center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630).
The Apollo Chorus will present its Baroque version of Handel's Messiah--which it's been performing annually since 1879--tonight at 7:30 at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. (They'll also do it Sunday, December 21, at 3 at the new Harris Music and Dance Theater in Millennium Park.) The soloists are Ellen Hargis, Angela Horn, Thomas Barrett, and Calland Metts. Tickets range from $15 to $60; call 312-294-3000 or see www.apollochorus.org for more.
17 WEDNESDAY The Detholz!, Chicago's "self-appointed herald of the last days," will change their tune at the WLUW Holiday Sing-Along. Also playing the third annual fund-raiser: the M's, ex-Coctails John Upchurch and Mark Greenberg, Steve Frisbie and Liam Davis of Frisbie, and Charles Kim & Grand Lunar, all performing new and classic holiday music. Local chanteuse and sometime WLUW DJ Elizabeth Conant leads the caroling between sets. It's tonight at 8:30 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. Tickets are $10, and you must be 18. Call 773-525-2508; for more info on the radio station log on to www.wluw.org.
18 THURSDAY In 1988 Amal Al-Khedairy founded the Al-Beit Al-Iraqi ("Iraq House") arts and cultural center in her family's Baghdad home. Destroyed during the first gulf war and then rebuilt, it was one of few such institutions remaining in Baghdad, offering concerts, lectures, exhibits, and classes. U.S. bombs destroyed it again this year. Al-Khedairy is now part of a speaking tour called Voices From Iraq: A Women's Perspective on Its Past, Present, and Future along with Iraqi journalist Nermin Al-Mufti and moderator Barbara Nimri-Aziz. They hit town tonight at 7 at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington. The free event is being filmed for an upcoming documentary and will be preceded by an "alternative" holiday gift fair at 6. For more information call 312-427-2533 or go to www.peacechicago.org.