In the spirit of an election year here in Chicago, it’s time to bring out your inner film critic and vote for your favorites at the 2015 Chicago International Movies & Music Festival (CIMMfest) running April 16 – 19! The festival curators have, once again, put together an impressive and not to miss lineup of music, movies, seminars and special events.
It all kicks off this Thursday April 16, 2015 at Chop Shop/1st Ward where you can dance, drink and nerd out like the cinephile you truly are. The event is free and will feature Numero Group DJs from 10pm – 1am at 2033. W. North Ave.
Before I check out the opening night festivities, I’ll be screening Shake the Dust, a feature documentary from executive producer and rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones and journalist-turned-filmmaker Adam Sjöberg.
Shake the Dust explores and elevates the art of breaking (most commonly known as breakdancing) and demonstrates its connective, unifying power around the world. The film takes you inside war-torn territories, favelas and slums to shine a light on how breaking creates community and joy where they are often hard to find.
The Friday night screening of 808 (directed by Alexander Dunn) is next on my list and also much anticipated. A feature hip hop documentary, 808 does a deep dive into one of music history’s most important instruments, the Roland TR-808 drum machine. With a dream line up of interviews, we hear first hand how the 808 affected and influenced iconic artists from 1980 to present day.
On Saturday I’ll be checking out Porch Stories and The Poet of Havana to satisfy my indie film appetite. Porch Stories is a fiction feature shot in black and white. Sarah Goodman’s thought-provoking film shares three tales, each seen from a different porch in the same multicultural neighborhood.
The Poet of Havana (directed by Ron Chapman) is a documentary shot in Cuba with unique access and explores the cultural, political and social significance of internationally renowned Cuban musician Carlos Varela. This film takes you inside his struggle for individual freedoms, his iconic career and connection to his fellow Cubans, and his efforts to bridge the gap between Cuba and the United States.
The CIMMfest 2015 line up is a window into the world and let’s you travel to places you may have never thought you’d go but are now inspired to discover. Get your tickets soon, they’re going fast!
‘Bikes vs Cars’ Ghost bike memorial ride, São Paulo, Brazil. Photo Credit: Flora Dias
Bikes vs. Cars: Breaking the Cycle of Traffic Jams, Pollution, and Corporate Interests
In the documentary film, Bikes vs. Cars (2015), director Fredrik Gertten takes a deep look at a problem all highly-populated cities face: those dreaded traffic jams, over-population, pollution, pedestrian and cyclist deaths, and the role corporate interests have in urban planning legislation within today’s globalized economy. If you are looking for a documentary that’s oozing with progressive, passionate people and lacks the typical talking heads often found in documentaries, award-winning director Fredrik Gertten’s Bikes vs. Cars is a compelling watch. Fredrik Gertten, also known for his films Bananas! (2009) and Big Boys Gone Bananas (2012), filled me in on his inspiration behind the film.
“I have always been very interested in city planning and architecture, so I’ve been doing several shows about that too, but as a filmmaker, you look into many different stories that are in many ways close to your life, and I come from a city where the bike is something very natural. It’s not a political statement. Getting on a bike is just something you do.”
The film follows stakeholders around the world from bike activists to urban planners and architects, a taxi driver in Amsterdam, to classic car enthusiasts. Most notably, the film captures Aline Cavalcante, student and bike activist in Sao Paulo, Don Koeppel, an avid bike rider in the L.A. area, Raquel Rolnik (urban planner), Ricardo Correa (architect), and from the car perspective, Joel Ewanick (former Marketing Chief of Hyundai, General Motors, and Porche) who proclaims that even the motorists want less noise, traffic, and pollution. Read more…
Director ‘Bikes vs Cars’ Fredrik Gertten. Photo Credit: Martin Bogren
Bikes vs Cars is an impressive documentary from Swedish director, Fredrik Gertten. We caught up with him while he was in the US for the film’s North American debut at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
Gertten, a seasoned filmmaker, co-produced the 2010 Academy Award nominated documentary, Burma VJ, which centers on protests against the military regime in Burma. He directed the film Bananas!, the story of a class-action lawsuit by banana workers in Nicaragua that targeted the Dole Food Company. The film incited Dole, one of the world’s largest food companies, to sue Gertten for slander. The film Big Boys Gone Bananas! was a natural progression in telling the story of Dole’s lawsuit against him, which he eventually won. Bikes vs Cars speaks to similar topics as in his Banana films − big business (mainly car manufactures and car advertising) versus the bicycle rider lifestyle.
Speaking with Gertten between breaks in the action at SXSW was informative, as he has plenty to say about this frustrating topic, one in which he does shed a bright spotlight.
Kathrine LeBlanc: Can you tell me a little bit about why you are passionate about this topic and the inspiration for the film?
Fredrik Gertten: First of all, I have always been very interested in city planning and architecture, so I’ve been doing several shows [films] about that too, but as a filmmaker, you look into many different stories that are in many ways close to your life, and I come from a city where the bike is something very natural. It’s not a political statement. Getting on a bike is just something I do. It’s been like that all my life and it’s a bit frustrating in cities, traveling the world that there is a lack of bicycles. Suddenly, I see bicycles coming back to cities all over the world. Of course, I see that there is something going on here. I thought it is interesting to look into. Read more…
Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker and Chris Bridges ‘Ludacris’ star in “Furious 7.” Photo credit: Universal Pictures
Lucky Number 7, Enjoy the Ride
Buckle your seatbelts; Furious 7’s insanely supersized and supercharged theme takes action films to a new level. From cars ejecting from planes to cars leaping between skyscrapers, the film does not push the breaks when it comes to outlandish scenarios.
Like a well-oiled engine, the Fast fam is back at it again almost two years later with what is believed to be the last film of the franchise. If anything, Vin Diesel is more muscular as Alpha, Dominic Toretto than in Fast & Furious 6. His no holds barred attitude continues to rub off on his infamous crew including Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker, Brick Mansions, 2014) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, Fast & Furious 6, 2013). James Wan (The Conjuring, 2013) directs this chapter of the series, which may end up being it’s most successful. Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson and Elsa Pataky are also welcomed back. Adding some new faces to the mix are action stars Jason Statham (Wild Card, 2015), Ronda Rousey (The Expendables 3, 2014) and Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, 2014).
While Furious 7 will offer what audiences expect, extreme thrills, gravity defying action sequences, and a cliché script at full throttle speed, they will be pleased to know that it’s all of the above on a ridiculous, new level. While it’s clear that half of the stunts in the film are near impossible, audiences will have to suspend disbelief or they’ll just not be along for the ride. This franchise has allowed Fast fans to truly escape all realities and imagine anything is possible, even if it’s flying cars. Read more…
Simon Curtis director of ‘Woman in Gold’
Simon Curtis turns his focus from Marilyn Monroe to another woman in history: Maria Altmann. In My Week with Marilyn, he showed the world that Monroe really was a good actress – one who wanted to be seen as a serious actor, not just as a beautiful woman. In Woman in Gold, he gives us the story of a much older woman, Maria Altmann, who decides to undo a grave injustice and, in order to do so, she must revisit her painful past.
Michelle Williams stars as Marilyn Monroe.
British director Simon Curtis made a splash on the Hollywood scene with his film My Week with Marilyn (2011). That film garnered two Academy Award nominations: Best Actress, Michelle Williams, and Best Supporting Actor, Kenneth Branagh. Concurrently, The Chicago Film Critics Association awarded Curtis with Best New Promising Filmmaker and gave their Best Actress Award to Michelle Williams for the same film.
Helen Mirren stars as Maria Altmann
Curtis presently has a new film opening, Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, a determined survivor of the Nazi invasion into her childhood hometown of Vienna. Nazis seized her family possessions, one of which was a painting commissioned by her uncle (a beautiful portrait of her aunt, titled “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” by artist Gustav Klimt). After the war, the painting was handed over to the Belvedere Art Gallery in Vienna. The painting’s name was changed to “Woman in Gold” to avoid former claims. Maria Altmann knew that she was the rightful owner of the painting and waged a personal crusade to reclaim it. Through the help of a lawyer, Randol Schoenberg, played by Ryan Reynolds, and an Austrian investigative journalist, Hubertus Czernin, played by Daniel Bruhl, they were able to reclaim the artwork. Read more…
Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart star in the comedy ‘Get Hard’ Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Listen to Sarah Knight Adamson’s Radio Review Sat. evenings 10:06 CST on Hollywood 360 Radio Network,in Chicago listen to WINDam 560. The podcast will be posted after the film segment has aired.