Friday, July 8, 2011

Empty lot incubates uncommon film fest

Opening paragraphs of a Chicago Tribune article featuring a Greater Grand Crossing resident and his unique film festival:

There are more than 175 movies-under-the-stars screenings scheduled for Chicago's parks this summer. Most will feature standard Hollywood fare, from "Meet the Parents" at Fulton River Park July 26 to "Shrek Forever After" at Smith Park Aug. 11.

But perhaps the most unique outdoor film festival in the city will take place in July and August on an empty lot in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood.

Here, on an 8-foot-by-8-foot white fabric sheet suspended from a brick wall outside 6918 S. Dorchester Ave., an audience can take in rarely seen nonfiction films from the past, all with Chicago connections.

Over four nights, the free film fest will play films about the thriving blues and jazz scene on the South and West Sides from the 1950s through the 1970s, as well as a documentary about community organizer Saul Alinsky in theWoodlawn neighborhood in the 1960s.

There also is an early 1960s documentary about theVice Lords street gang, and curiosities that range from a 1978 look at the Maxwell Street Market to a 1958 wrestling event at the South Side's International Amphitheatre (a facility that closed in 1999). And for the finale, home movies, some provided by those in attendance, some dating back decades.

The Greater Grand Crossing venue is owned by internationally known artist Theaster Gates. The films are mostly from the Chicago Film Archives, a film restoration group led by Nancy Watrous. The CFA is teaming with Gates' Dorchester Projects group to present the festival.

Here's the rest of the story

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