Art to present Chicago film series


It has been apparent the staff of the Art Theater, led by interim programmer Dora Valkanova since the departure a few months ago of general manager Austin McCann, has a few new ideas to try out on their clientele. We’ve already seen films of a similar milieu pitted against one another, late night choices finally reflecting late night tastes, and a handful of big studio previews take up space on the schedule opposite the expected first-run selections, but you can imagine how their newest concept might grab our attention a few blocks down at the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters. Once a month for the next four months beginning tonight, Tuesday, May 22, 7:30 p.m., the Art will introduce a current Illinois-produced work for viewing and discussion under the banner “Stories from the City, Stories from the State.” This evening, first-time feature filmmaker Kelly Richmond Pope will appear to discuss issues underlying the story told by her documentary ALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES, recounting a massive embezzlement scheme that was undertaken by Rita Crundwell, a former city official in the small town of Dixon, Illinois, allowing her to lead an extravagant lifestyle and horse-breeding business that went unchecked for two decades. In an interview between Pope and Nicole Anderson Cobb published yesterday on Smile Politely, she stresses the need for its audience to look past the sensational aspects and realize that all citizens are accountable to a degree for managing the behavior and actions of their elected leaders.

After repeats of HORSES on Saturday, May 26, and Sunday, May 27, the series will continue on June 26 with ROGERS PARK, the only narrative selection, and then on July 16 with the shorter pieces GADGET GIRLS and ’63 BOYCOTT before wrapping it up on August 8 with the acclaimed MINDING THE GAP. Click on the titles in the press release below to access descriptions of these films and biographies of guests who will visit the Art in support of their work; it will be quickly apparent that all the non-fiction choices are associated with the great civic-minded Chicago production house, Kartemquin Films, and everything is anchored on people, places, and occurrences in far northern Illinois – Dixon in HORSES, Rockford in MINDING THE GAP, Chicago in the rest – hence the word choice of our headline. We vote for this particular program to succeed so the Art is encouraged to come up with future installments, the planning of which needs to cast a net wider than what can be caught off the shoreline of Lake Michigan. However, a good-to-great film is a good-to-great film, no matter its origin, so we put our trust in their hands to make smart and compelling selections.

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. ROGERS PARK and MINDING THE GAP have also figured in a pilot program called “Illinois Film Tour,” a partnership between IFP Chicago and Full Spectrum Features with support from Illinois Humanities. The former played Springfield in January, the latter played Galesburg last week, and future visits to additional cities are presumably in the works.

p.s.2 Both of the above ventures feel more in line with a kind of film outreach we might have wanted to see in the past. During our sporadically ranty days on C-U Blogfidential, we groused about the Hollywood tendency to place its production focus on Chicagoland. This tack will make a demure return in a fresh Confidential Almanac entry set to appear in this week’s Calendar.

p.s.3 Since we regularly put our (non-existent) money where our mouths are, we have no problem with stressing the disparity of Chicago v. Rest of Illinois in film business and culture that persists to this day. Maybe that’s the only way we’ll ever know.



From May 7, 2018:



CHAMPAIGN, IL (May 7, 2018): The Art Theater is excited to announce its new series, “Stories from the City, Stories from the State: An Illinois Filmmaker Showcase,” which spotlights five films made in Illinois and their directors. Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director who will be in town for the screening. For more information about each film, click on the film titles below to read further at the Art’s Web site.

The series starts with the critically-acclaimed documentary, ALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES, which tells the story of Rita Crundwell, city comptroller and treasurer of Dixon, Illinois, who gained notoriety as the mastermind behind one of the largest cases of municipal fraud in U.S. history. The second title, ROGERS PARK, is a feature film that follows the lives of two couples in Chicago’s progressive neighborhood by the same name. The film recently received recognition as a New York Times “Critic’s Pick.” In July, we welcome the artistic director and co-founder of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn, with his latest film ’63 BOYCOTT, which documents the Chicago boycotts against school segregation of the same year. Mr. Quinn will be joined by Risé Sanders-Weir, whose short film GADGET GIRLS will precede ’63 BOYCOTT. Last but not least, MINDING THE GAP, an outstanding new documentary from Kartemquin Films and winner of the “U.S. Documentary Competition Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking” at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of three childhood friends as they navigate the murky waters to adulthood and confront their personal demons and histories of abuse.

The “Stories from the City, Stories from the State” series is brought to you thanks to the Art Theater’s Annual Membership program. We thank all annual members for your continued support of the Art Theater. If you are not a member, please consider becoming a member today by visiting this page. Your membership directly supports the Art’s presentation of independent films like the ones featured in this series.

We hope you will join us in celebrating some of the best films made in Illinois in the last few years and their filmmakers.

The Art Theater is a program of the 501(c)(3) Art Film Foundation. We are a community-based, mission-driven, and member-supported organization.


Dora Valkanova
Interim Programmer
programmer [at] thearttheater [dot] org


Comments closed.