The third annual Chicago International Documentary Festival continues Friday through Sunday, April 15 through 17, with projected-video screenings at Society for Arts, 1112 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $8.50, $7 for seniors and students; for more information call 773-486-9612 or visit


Short works, program one

Maciej Adamek’s I’m With You, Jay Rosenblatt’s Phantom Limb, and Laila Pakalnina’s Dreamland. 89 min. (7 PM)

Tropic of Cancer

Eugenio Polgovsky’s film (2004, 52 min.) follows a group of families living under primitive conditions in the desert of San Luis Potosi. In Spanish with subtitles. Also on the program: Victor Mares’s 26-minute short Symphonic Episodes. (9 PM)


The Innocent

Innocent death-row inmates who’ve been set free are the subject of Lauri Feldman’s documentary, which melds their stories into a single powerful narrative. A section on their arrests is followed by sections on their convictions, their lives in prison, and their exonerations. After they’re released, many of them suffer from depression, and one reports that people still regard him as having been “involved in a murder.” Interspersed with the stories is a cross-country walk by some of the former inmates, an attempt to persuade Illinois governor George Ryan to commute all death sentences in the state. Feldman provides poignant details that only deepen the viewer’s outrage–the inmate who tries to commit suicide by swallowing toilet paper, the freed man haunted by dreams that he’s going back. 70 min. (FC) (7 PM)

R Fallen Angel: Gram Parsons

Produced for the BBC, this excellent documentary profiles one of the most important but overlooked pop musicians of the 60s–country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, whose exquisite heartache lit up the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the Flying Burrito Brothers’ The Gilded Palace of Sin, and two brilliant solo albums before he died of an overdose at 26. German director Gandulf Hennig has rounded up most of the relevant witnesses to Parsons’s tragically short life, from the remnants of his wealthy southern family to his musical collaborators (Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon, James Burton, Emmylou Harris) and his repellent drug buddies. Backed up by rare performance footage, they paint a portrait of a spoiled, charming, emotionally crippled young man whose shoddy treatment of people was always forgotten as soon as he opened his mouth to sing. 90 min. (JJ) (9 PM)


Fighting for Life in the Death-Belt

Adam Elend and Jeff Marks’s 2004 documentary focuses on anti-death-penalty attorney and activist Stephen Bright. 52 min. (3 PM)

Peaceable Kingdom

Filmmaker Jenny Stein tackles the way we treat farm animals, focusing especially on the inhumanity of factory farming. The footage of cows, chickens, and sheep trapped in enclosures only slightly bigger than their bodies and left in the dark much of the time is enough to put you off meat–which of course is precisely the point of this blatantly manipulative 2004 documentary. More effective are interviews with several farmers who talk about their evolving feelings about animals. 70 min. (HS) (5 PM)