The film Souls of Sin tells the story of black belt immigrants living in post-World War II Harlem. Made in 1949 with a black cast and crew, the film, which originally played at black theaters in the segregated south, was thought to be lost until a print turned up in a Texas warehouse in the early 80s. It’ll be screened at 7 tonight at the International Cinema Museum, 319 W. Erie, along with The House With a Clock in Its Walls, a vintage Vincent Price walking-dead flick. Admission is $5 and includes a tour of the museum. Call 654-1426 for info.
Hyde Park comes alive with the sounds of the Balkan region this weekend when the Ensemble Balkanske Igre celebrates its 30th anniversary with a music and dance festival. The festival kicks off with a party tonight at 8 and continues with workshops featuring some of Eastern Europe’s top folk dancers and musicians Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 5. A dance party on Saturday night starts at 8 and lasts into the wee hours. Workshops are $10 each, $8 for students; it’ll cost you $15 to get into either of the parties, $12 for students. All events take place in Sunny Gym, 5831 S. Kenwood. Call 324-1247 for details.
Spring is officially here, and so is the annual Maple Syrup Festival at North Park Village Nature Center. From 10 to 4 today and Sunday visitors can check out the tree-tapping process on a tour of the center’s preserve, help stir hot sap over an open fire, and sample fresh syrup on doughnuts. The tours and doughnuts are free; the center is located at 5801 N. Pulaski. Call 744-5472 for more.
A lecture and slide show this morning at the Edgewater branch Library, 1210 W. Elmdale, explores the evolutionary history of Lake Michigan. Northeastern University’s Frank Pranschke will discuss recent changes in the shoreline and information retrieved from underwater exploration. Hosted by the Edgewater Historical Society, the free program starts at 10. Call 334-5609 for more information.
Despite the ongoing IRA ceasefire and other hopeful signs of a lasting end to the Anglo-Irish conflict, Bill Clinton’s Justice Department is still prosecuting Irish political prisoners in the U.S. Jimmy Smyth is one of them. After participating in a mass IRA escape from a British prison in 1983, he was eventually found living in San Francisco and arrested along with three of his comrades. Though the others are being held without bail, Smyth is free while the Justice Department appeals a federal court’s decision not to extradite him to Britain. In town today he’ll talk about his case and how the larger issue of political prisoners relates to the current peace process. Saint Louis-based activist Francie Broderick and her husband Matt Morrison, an Irish national currently facing deportation because of his political involvement in Ireland, join him. The program starts at 1:30 at the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace. It’s free, but donations will go toward legal fees. Call 296-1355 for more.
A program of performance and poetry tonight at the Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division, commemorates Nelson Algren’s birthday. The music/poetry outfit Street Sounds will be on hand, as well as an actor who’ll portray Algren and talk about some of the writer’s favorite local haunts. Admission is $5, and things get under way at 8. Call 772-2000.
Woodcut books, which substitute carved images for words, reached the height of their popularity in the 1920s and ’30s. The history and collecting of these books will be covered in a workshop at 1 today at the Midwest Bookhunters spring fair, where over 100 dealers will offer up rare and antique books, maps, and comics. The fair runs from 10 to 5 at Northwestern University’s McGaw Hall, 2705 Ashland in Evanston. Admission is $3, $2 for students and faculty, and includes the workshop. Call 708-442-0667 for more.
On the heels of its participation in the Midwest Conference on Technology Employment and Community, the Chicago Coalition for Information Access meets this afternoon to discuss how to follow up on the ideas and proposals put forward there. The development of community computer centers–where people could learn basic skills, create resumes, write papers, and gain Internet access–will be high on the agenda. The free public forum starts at 3 in room 161 of DePaul’s Schmitt Academic Center, 2323 N. Kenmore. Call 384-8827.
Ever hear the one about the rabbi and the nun? You might tonight when Loyola faculty member Rabbi Rick Marker and Seabury Western Theological Seminary’s Sister Vicky Garvey get together for the first of two discussions about the relationship between Christianity and Judaism during the first 100 years after Jesus bought the farm. It starts at 7:30 at Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn, and continues at the same time on Monday, April 3. Grace Place is shared by the congregations of Christ the King Lutheran Church, Makom Shalom the Community, and Grace Episcopal Church. Admission to the talks is free, but they’ll probably pass the hat. Call 922-1426 for more information.
The local Celtic pop band Wilding helps make Mondays easier with regular shows at Schubas. Former Drover Kathleen Keane fronts the group, alternately singing and playing flute, tin whistle, and fiddle. The shows begin around 9:30, and there’s a $2 cover. Schubas is at 3159 N. Southport. Call 525-2508 for more.
Vessels, the Abiogenesis Movement Ensemble’s performance piece celebrating birth and motherhood, incorporates pregnant dancers, live goldfish, and speculum castanets. After performing the piece at last year’s national midwives convention, the ensemble is remounting it tonight as a benefit for the Chicago Foundation for Women. The show starts at 7:30 at the Bailiwick Arts Center, 1229 W. Belmont. Tickets are $12, $6 if you’re pregnant. Call 271-2269 for tickets and info.
Part sympathetic portrayal, part naked exploitation, Tod Browning’s 1932 film Freaks employed a cast of real-life circus freaks including Siamese twins the Hilton Sisters, “living half-boy” Johnny Eck, “living torso” Prince Randian, a bearded lady, and several pinheads. This tale of deceit and betrayal under the big top shows tonight at 8 at the University of Chicago’s Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th Street. Admission is $3. Call 702-8575.
Black railroad workers have historically had to fight twice as hard as their white counterparts. After struggling to become unionized they had to fight racism within their unions, which limited them to service positions as porters, dining car waiters, and baggage handlers. Toward this end they formed their own unions in the 30s, sometimes affiliating with the AFL or CIO and sometimes maintaining their independence as a defense against white chauvinism. Fighting Discrimination From Within–and Without: Black Railroad Workers, Employment Discrimination and the Labor Movement in the 1930s and 1940s, a free lecture by UIC African American studies and history professor Eric Arnesen, starts today at 2, in the basement of Stevenson Hall, 701 S. Morgan. Call 996-6354 for more.
The Logan Square Neighborhood Association hosts a free tenants’ rights workshop tonight. Representatives from the LSNA, the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, and the Lawyer’s Committee for Better Housing and Legal Assistance will cover, in English and Spanish, topics like leases, security deposits, evictions, and repairs. It starts at 7 at Grace Church, 3325 W. Wrightwood. Call 384-4370 for more information.
Those who missed Latcho Drom during its short run last month got a reprieve this week when the Music Box brought it back. But tonight is your last chance to see the movie that Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum described as “so powerful you virtually have to force yourself not to dance during long stretches of it.” Directed by Tony Gatlif, an Algerian-born French Gypsy, it relies on music and images rather than language to examine the common threads and rich variations of modern Gypsy life and music in Egypt, northern India, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, and France. Admission is $7.25. Call 871-6604 or see Section Two for show times. The Music Box is at 3733 N. Southport.