CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
CHICAGO – The Chicago energy for local production keeps picking up, and the latest creative burst is the web series “Mad Scientists Consortium.” Created, written and co-directed by Harry Bauer, this wonderfully funny production – putting a modern spin on the Mad Scientists genre – is available for download now.
LOS ANGELES – The shocking news of the passing of Debbie Reynolds, hours after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away, is still resonating in the 2016 atmosphere. Ms. Reynolds died of a massive stroke on December 28th, at her son’s home near Los Angeles, while making funeral arrangements for her daughter. She was 84.
CHICAGO – Tenacity and purpose reaps benefits, and no one knows this more than hard-working Chicago journalist, actress, producer and model Meiling Jin. She is the producer and lead actress in the new made-in-Chicago sitcom, “Chop Chop TV Show” (AKA “Chop Chop”), premiering on December 22nd, 2016 (11pm CST), on Comcast, Xfinity, WOW and RCN broadcast systems Channel 25. The show combines Ms. Jin, her roommate, and her diverse friendships in a series of adventures and misadventures in the great city of Chicago.
CHICAGO – The film adaptation of a stage play by August Wilson, the late playwright known for his “Pittsburgh Cycle” of dramas, was aided by Denzel Washington, both portraying the lead role and directing “Fences.” Washington had done the play on Broadway, and recruited to the film his stage mate Stephen McKinley Henderson and newcomer Jovan Adepo.
CHICAGO – Bringing the musical movie genre back requires a bit of nostalgia, a nod to modernity and always old fashioned star power. Writer/director Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) combined all three to produce “La La Land,” with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as star-crossed lovers. Rosemarie DeWitt also has a featured role.
CHICAGO – Put it in the books. The highly successful and popular Asian Pop-Up Cinema in Chicago closed their 2016 Fall Season with “Round Trip Heart,” a Japanese film from female director Yuki Tanada. Ms. Tanada tells the story of Hachiko, a food cart attendant who works on the “Romance Train.” She temporarily goes off track when a mysterious stranger reads a private note from her mother, and insists on taking the buttoned-up woman on a journey to find that mother. Tanada appeared on behalf of her film at the final Asian Pop-Up Cinema screening for 2016.
CHICAGO – The raucous party movie has become a reliable staple in movieland, and now a production tackles the holiday soiré, and all that can go wrong. “Office Christmas Party” is co-directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, who also gave us “Blades of Glory” and “The Switch.”
CHICAGO – Local filmmaking has always gotten a boost through director Jack C. Newell. His 2015 film “Open Tables,” shot in Chicago and Paris, will get it’s digital release on Tuesday, December 6th, 2016, on iTunes and Video-On-Demand. This coincides with his art project “The Wabash Lights,” and his continued production work.
CHICAGO – Iconic and historical are the two apt terms for a film directed by an African American woman, the first to be distributed theatrically, Was it the 1920s? 1940s? It had to be the 1970s. No, it was 1992 when that barrier was broken, with the film “Daughters in the Dust,” directed by Julie Dash.
CHICAGO – When filmmakers are searching for the “rules of the road,” when seeking to produce in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, one of the stops they need to make is with The Illinois Film Office. The Film Office is part of the state’s Department of Commerce, and not only takes care of production coordination, but the economic incentives for film, television and advertising in the area. Since 2015, the Director of The Illinois Film Office has been Christine Dudley.