The inaugural Chicago International Doc Film Festival, featuring documentary films and videos, continues Friday through Sunday, March 28 through 30. Screenings are at the Biograph, Facets Cinematheque, Northwestern Univ. Block Museum of Art, and the Society for Arts, 1112 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $8, $7 for seniors and students; passes for ten screenings are $65; for more information call 773-486-9612. Films marked with an * are highly recommended.


Short works, program one

Sandro Lai directed these two Italian profiles of influential directors: Bernardo Bertolucci: What’s the Purpose of Cinema? (2001, 55 min.) and Sergio Leone (2002, 55 min.). In Italian with subtitles. (Society for Arts, 7:00)

Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment

This 1999 video by Peter Wintonick, codirector of Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, does a pretty good job of surveying the “direct cinema” movement of the 50s and 60s, which was promulgated by filmmakers and filmmaking units in Canada, France (Jean Rouch), the U.S. (Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker, Albert and David Maysles), and elsewhere. Most of what the filmmakers themselves have to say is interesting, and Kirwan Cox’s script seems well researched. 103 min. (JR) (Biograph, 7:00)

An Injury to One

Travis Wilkerson directed this investigation (2002, 53 min.) of the 1917 lynching of labor organizer Frank Little in Butte, Montana. Also on the program: Raphael Lyon and Andres Ingoglia’s Eye of the Storm (2002, 14 min.), described by Jonathan Rosenbaum as “a punchy, engaging promo for Indymedia, a grassroots media activist network formed at the time of the Seattle riots, with particular attention to the chapter founded in Buenos Aires.” In English and subtitled Spanish. (Facets Cinematheque, 7:00)

Short works, program two

In Bike Like U Mean It (2002, 46 min.), Rusty Martin looks at bicycle activists in Austin, Texas. Michael Reiter, Ryan Johnson, Justin Allen, and Dan Stieglitz codirected Enduro (29 min.), about amateur auto racing on Long Island. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)

* The Damned and the Sacred

The festival’s retrospective of work by Dutch documentarian Jos de Putter opens with this 2002 feature about Daymokhk, a children’s dance troupe from war-torn Chechnya, as it tours Europe by bus. Intercut with this filmed footage is video shot back in Grozny, where the kids practice their steps in front of bombed-out buildings. De Putter has a great eye for the beauty of children’s faces, and the dancers, many of whom have lost friends, fathers, and brothers to the Russian invasions of 1994 and ’99, speak calmly and with great poise about their grief-laden lives. The dance sequences crackle with energy, but there’s no overlooking the irony of the boys’ cossack costumes and traditional dances involving swords, shields, and hurled knives. In Chechen and Russian with subtitles. 75 min. (JJ) (Biograph, 9:00)

The Tramp and the Dictator

The main pretext for this German TV documentary (2002, 55 min.) was the recent discovery of color home movies shot during the production of Charlie Chaplin’s black-and-white feature The Great Dictator (1940), the biggest commercial success of his career. Documentarians Kevin Brownlow and Michael Kloft are able to cut back and forth between the film and the home movies to show the same actions and sets from different angles, always to fascinating effect. There’s a lot to be said about Chaplin’s complex relation to Hitler: the Tramp’s resemblance to the fuhrer and the fact that he was loved by millions made Chaplin something of a rival as well as an ideological opponent, and though widespread rumors of his Judaism were false, he let them stand to express his solidarity with the Jews. Kloft and Brownlow never get past the more obvious parallels and differences between the two men, but this is still well worth checking out. In English and subtitled German. (JR) Also on the program: Galina Dolmatovskaya’s Ivan Mozjoukhin, or the Carnival Child (1999, 65 min.), a tribute to the Russian silent-screen star whose career ended with the transition to sound. In Russian with subtitles. (Society for Arts, 9:00)


Short works, program three

Barney Snow directed Where Has Eternity Gone? (2001, 49 min.), a British documentary about the prophecies of three spiritual mediums in a North Dakota suburb. Heaven on Earth (2001, 52 min.) is Rick Minnich’s German documentary about the Christian entertainment industry in Branson, Missouri. (Society for Arts, 3:00)

The Same River Twice

In 1978, Robb Moss filmed a river trip he took with his hippie friends in the Grand Canyon; 20 years later he visited five of them to see how they’ve changed and to reflect on the old footage. It’s a natural subject for a documentary, but this is far more than an evocative chronicle of a generation. Moss has an acute feeling for structure and juxtaposition and for the quality and sensibility of his friends, each of whom seems to have preserved his or her love of nature in a different way. 78 min. (JR) (Facets Cinematheque, 3:00)

Short works, program four

Directed by Michale Boganim, Dust (2001, 29 min.) looks at three women who are among the last remaining Jews in the city of Odessa; an Anglo-Ukrainian coproduction in subtitled Yiddish and Russian. From Spain, Oscar de Gispert’s Singladuras (2002, 24 min.) addresses immigrant life in Barcelona; German Berger’s Everything Solid (2002, 29 min.) is about marginalized people in the same city, including a transsexual and two homeless old men. The former is in Spanish, the latter in Spanish with subtitles. (Biograph, 5:00)

It’s Been a Lovely Day

Dutch documentarian Jos de Putter directed this 1993 film chronicling the last year of his family’s farm. In Dutch with subtitles. 70 min. (Northwestern Univ. Block Museum, 5:00)

The Material Memory

Willem Wits directed this Dutch documentary (2002, 40 min.), about people who maintain a sense of closeness with lost loved ones by preserving their clothing. In Dutch with subtitles. Also on the program: Jacqueline Goss’s There There Square (2002, 14 min.) and The Guzzler of Grizzly Manor (2002, 12 min.). Jonathan Rosenbaum writes of the latter, “Goofy self-styled filmmaker George Kuchar tours festivals with some of his work from the 1960s and pays mocking tribute to himself and the events, with frequent allusions to the picturesque surroundings. Fun but slight.” (Society for Arts, 5:00)

The Silence of Green

Austrian documentarian Andreas Horvath chronicles the spread of hoof-and-mouth disease through Yorkshire in this 2002 work (48 min.). Also on the program: Loss (2002, 30 min.), America Crossing (2001, 28 min.), and American Dreams #3 (2001, 5 min.). (Facets Cinematheque, 5:00)

Films by Jos de Putter, program one

Two works by the Dutch documentarian: Solo: The Law of the Favela (1994, 55 min.), in Portuguese with subtitles, and Nagasaki Stories (1996, 55 min.), in Japanese with subtitles. (Northwestern Univ. Block Museum, 7:00)

On the Edge of Time: Male Domains in the Caucasus

This 2001 study of post-Soviet life in the Caucasus Mountains was made by German director Stefan Tolz. In Russian, Georgian, Avarian, and Svan with subtitles. 90 min. Also on the program: The Diver (2000, 20 min.). (Biograph, 7:00)

Short works, program five

Panamanian director Enrique Castro Rios interweaves family history and political commentary in Memories of the Old Man’s Son (2002, 29 min.), a Norwegian production in English and subtitled Spanish. Where the Poles Meet (2001, 53 min.), a French-Ecuadorian-Belgian coproduction directed by Juan Martin Cueva, recounts the history of Cueva’s family against a backdrop of South American politics. In Spanish and French with subtitles. (Society for Arts, 7:00)

Photos to Send: Retracing Dorothea Lange’s Travels Through Ireland

Dierdre Lynch retraces the photographer’s travels through Ireland in this 2002 documentary. 87 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 7:00)

Short works, program six

A Turkish soldier who became a military torture expert is the subject of The Devil’s Apprentice (2002, 54 min.), a German film by Wilfried Huismann. In Spanish, Turkish, and Flemish with subtitles. Tran T. Kim-Trang directed Amaurosis (2002, 28 min.), about a blind Amerasian orphan saved from poverty by his guitar playing. (Society for Arts, 9:00)

The Making of a New Empire

Jos de Putter directed this 1999 Dutch film about Khozh-Ahmed Noukhaev of Chechnya, who founded the underground group now known as the Chechen Mafia. In Russian and Chechen with subtitles. 78 min. (Northwestern Univ. Block Museum, 9:00)

National Stadium

Within hours of the Chilean military coup in September 1973, soldiers began rounding up political prisoners, and for the next two months some 12,000 people were sequestered in Santiago’s national soccer stadium, where they were starved, raped, tortured, and murdered. Director Carmen Luz Parot made this 2001 documentary to counter the country’s deepening amnesia about those events, combining archival footage and video interviews with former prisoners as they walk the stadium grounds describing their experiences. Filmmaking doesn’t get much plainer than this, but the fascinating testimony on a tragic subject more than compensates for the lack of polish. Especially poignant witness comes from the survivors of electrical torture, and from a guilt-stricken former guard who discovered his own brother among the prisoners. In Spanish with subtitles. 90 min. (Cliff Doerksen) (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)

OT: Our Town

Students in a drama program in Compton, California, mount a production of the Thornton Wilder classic in this 2002 documentary by Scott Hamilton Kennedy. 76 min. (Biograph, 9:00)


Photos to Send: Retracing Dorothea Lange’s Travels Through Ireland

See listing for Saturday, March 29. (Society for Arts, 11:00)

Iraq Program

In The Minders (1998, 50 min.), British director Sean McAllister looks at life in Baghdad through the eyes of the two security agents assigned to him by the Iraqi government. And in Hull’s Angel (2002, 50 min.), McAllister looks at the tensions caused by the arrival of 1,500 Muslim refugees in the northern English city. Both works are in English and subtitled Arabic. (Society for Arts, 1:00)

Films by Jos de Putter, program two

Three works by the Dutch documentarian: Zikr (1999, 7 min.), Brooklyn Stories (2002, 54 min.), and Nor His Donkey (2000, 50 min.), the last in Spanish and Dutch with subtitles. (Northwestern Univ. Block Museum, 3:00)

Korea Program

In The Parade (1989, 60 min.), Polish director Andrzej Fidyk examines public ceremonies and the cult of personality in North Korean politics. Also on the program: Welcome to North Korea (2001, 45 min.), by Dutch director Peter Tetteroo. Both documentaries are in English and subtitled Korean. (Society for Arts, 3:00)

Pier Paolo Pasolini and a Dream’s Reason

This 2001 French production is an intimate portrait of the Italian filmmaker, directed by one of his frequent collaborators, actress Laura Betti. In Italian with subtitles. 90 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 3:00)

Bejart Into the Light

Legendary French choreographer Maurice Bejart is the subject of this 2002 Swiss film directed by Marcel Schupbach. In French with subtitles. 95 min. (Biograph, 5:00)

* The Damned and the Sacred

See listing for Friday, March 28. (Northwestern Univ. Block Museum, 5:00)

It Happened Yesterday, It Happens Today

Nefise Ozkal Lorentzen directed this documentary (2002, 52 min.) about immigrant life in Norway. In Norwegian with subtitles. Also on the program: the Finnish short Rubina Doesn’t Live Here Anymore . . . (2002, 28 min.). (Society for Arts, 5:00)

Short works, program seven

Ben van Lieshout’s Dutch documentary Night at the Mall (2001, 18 min.) explores a deserted shopping mall at night. A white South African dance teacher brings ballet to the children of an impoverished black township in Guguletu Ballet (2002, 23 min.); Kristin Pichaske directed this U.S.-South African short, in English and Xhosa with subtitles. Also showing: Francois Verster’s When the War Is Over (2002, 52 min.), a Danish-South African coproduction dealing with the aftermath of violent resistance to apartheid. In English and subtitled Afrikaans. (Facets Cinematheque, 5:00)

The Other Final

Johan Kramer directed this 2002 Dutch film about soccer and intercultural relations. 79 min. (Biograph, 7:00)

Short works, program eight

Two documentaries from Finland: Anu Kuivalainen and Maarit Lalli’s Prison and Paradise (2002, 58 min.) examines life in and around an island prison off the shore of Helsinki; in English and subtitled Finnish and Italian. Johan Karrento examines life in a Finnish tourist community in The Fairyland (2002, 35 min.); in Swedish with subtitles. (Society for Arts, 7:00)

Short works, program nine

Olafs Okonovs directed the Latvian documentary Workshop in the Countryside (2002, 18 min.), about two painters. Without dialogue. Alice Elliot’s The Collector of Bedford Street (2001, 34 min.) is about a mentally retarded 60-year-old activist and fund-raiser. (Facets Cinematheque, 7:00)

Short works, program ten

Two Italian documentaries about filmmakers: Federico Fellini’s Autobiography: Clips From His Life (2000, 55 min.) compiles TV interviews with its subject; Paquito del Bosco directed. Pier Paolo Pasolini: A Purely Intellectual Murder Mystery (2000, 50 min.) investigates the 1975 murder of Pasolini; Paolo Bonaldi and Francesca Nesler directed. In Italian with subtitles. (Society for Arts, 9:00)


Toshi Fujiwara directed this 2002 Japanese-Israeli-French coproduction about the making of Kedma, Amos Gitai’s controversial drama about Israeli pioneers. In English, French, and Hebrew with subtitles. 90 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)