Presented by the Chicago-based documentary production and distribution company Terra Nova Films, the ninth annual Silver Images Film Festival continues Friday, May 3, through Wednesday, May 29, at Advocate Health Center-Evergreen Park, 9435 S. Western, Evergreen Park; Advocate Health Center-Schaumburg, 1931 Meacham, Schaumburg; Alliance Francaise, 54 W. Chicago; the Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium, Columbus Drive at Monroe; Atlas Center, 1767 E. 79th St.; Bethany Residences, 3811-21 W. Washington; Broadway United Methodist Church, 3344 N. Broadway; Chicago Dept. on Aging Southwest Center, 6117 S. Kedzie; Chinese Community Center, 250 W. 22nd Pl.; Copernicus Center, 3160 N. Milwaukee; DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl.; Good Samaritan Hospital, 3551 Highland, Downers Grove; Good Shepherd Hospital, 450 W. Hwy. 22, Barrington; and Palatine Park District, 150 E. Wood St., Palatine. Unless otherwise noted, admission is free and films will be shown on video; films marked with an * are highly recommended. For more information call 773-881-6940.


Short films, program one

Two films: Learning to Fly and My Mother Dreams the Satan’s Disciples in New York. Admission is $1, which includes breakfast. (Good Samaritan Hospital, 8:30 am)


Bertrand Lee directed this 2000 short about a ricksha driver in Singapore. 15 min. (Chinese Community Center, 11:40 am)

Short films, program two

In the Academy Award winner Big Mama (39 min., 2000) an 89-year-old woman in Los Angeles gains custody of her nine-year-old grandson after a five-year battle with bureaucrats who felt she was too old to care for him and placed him in foster care. The genuine affection between her and the boy seems to confirm her view that love is all he needs, but the story becomes disturbing after he unaccountably sets fire to her house. First-time director Tracy Seretean follows the two in real time, giving a good sense of the small details of daily life. Sweet Old Song (57 min., 2001) profiles 92-year-old blues musician Howard Armstrong and his wife, Barbara Ward, who’s about three decades younger and suspends her career as an artist to care for him. The brightly painted envelopes Armstrong made to woo Ward show his talent as a visual artist too, but the film comes to life only when he’s singing and playing his fiddle. The pacing is a bit too relaxed, and director Leah Mahan never really explains the bond between Ward and Armstrong. (FC) (Atlas Center, 12:30)

Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay

In 1948, Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles, the first gay advocacy group in the U.S.–but, as he explains in Eric Slide’s documentary (2001, 57 min.), for the first two years he couldn’t find anyone to join. During the McCarthy era the conservative membership expelled Hay, a communist since the 1930s; he went on to found the Radical Faeries in the 1970s. He seems like the genuine article, a man far ahead of his time who says his greatest compliment came from a young man who whispered, “Thank you for my life.” In Beauty Before Age (1997, 22 min.), Johnny Symons focuses on San Francisco’s Castro Street to explore attitudes toward aging in the “very ocularly focused” gay community. Younger men avoid seniors and people suffering from advanced AIDS, though one young man says he takes much older lovers for their wisdom and “calm.” (FC) Also on the program: Voicing the Legacy (35 min.). (Broadway United Methodist Church, 7:00)


* Short films, program three

Outside the world of critics, curators, galleries, and museums lies a vast economy of ordinary artists and art lovers; Julia D’Amico’s lively documentary The Highwaymen presents a group of African-American painters in Florida who began selling their landscapes in the 1960s, operating from their cars and charging around $25 per canvas. Many are untrained, and some were lured by the money back when field work paid as little as $3.50 a day. Their paintings may look kitschy to some, yet the artists and their collectors genuinely love these depictions of Florida swamps and grasslands. 41 min. (FC) Also on the program, Sweet Old Song (see listing for “Short films, program two” above). D’Amico will attend the screening. (DuSable Museum, 2:00)


Walter Rosenblum: In Search of Pitt Street

Noted New York photographer Walter Rosenblum has enjoyed a long and fascinating career: the son of a poor fruit peddler on the Lower East Side, he studied under Paul Strand at the Photo League, witnessed the Normandy invasion and the liberation of Dachau as an army cameraman, and developed a documentary style that was warm but mostly free of sentimentality. In recounting his life story, daughter Nina Rosenblum allows Walter to rattle on like Polonius, sharing his sage observations, and by her estimate he seems never to have made a wrong move, said a harsh word, or taken a photo that wasn’t museum quality. When she sticks to the facts, this 1999 film provides a graceful portrait. 60 min. (Jack Helbig) Also on the program, Luis Longarela’s short film Mary (2001). (Chicago Dept. on Aging Southwest Center, 10:00 am)

Short films, program two

See listing for Friday, May 3. (Atlas Center, 1:00)


Short films, program four

Four films: Swing, Buddy and Grace, Journey With Me: Stories of Growing Older, and 80 Degrees East of Birdland. 52 min. A discussion will follow the screening. (Art Institute, Rubloff Auditorium, 1:30)


Short films, program five

Six films: Atlantic, Mr. Reubens Goes to Mars, My Father’s Lunch, Voice of an Angel, Buddy and Grace, and My Father’s Hopes. 78 min. (Advocate Health Center-Evergreen Park, 10:00 am)


Short films, program five

See listing for Tuesday, May 7. (Advocate Health Center-Schaumburg, 10:00 am)

Short films, program six

Four films: Martha Heine, Tapestry Weaver; My Mother Dreams the Satan’s Disciples in New York; Voice of an Angel; and My Father’s Lunch. 61 min. (Copernicus Center, 12:30)

Short films, program seven

Three films: The Music Tree, My Father’s Lunch, and Voice of an Angel. 37 min. (Palatine Park District, 2:00)

* Short films, program eight

Four Frenchwomen interned by the Nazis at Ravensbruck concentration camp reunite for Maia Wechsler’s Sisters in Resistance (2000), a fascinating oral history of France during the war years. All four women were in their teens or 20s when they joined the resistance and were deeply enmeshed in the underground when the Nazis caught up with them. A skilled storyteller, Wechsler weaves together their reminiscences to create something more powerful than the sum of its parts, and editor Anne Checler gracefully juxtaposes the women’s more horrifying stories with moments of sweet nostalgia. 60 min. (Jack Helbig) Also on the program, Pieces of My Wife. In French with subtitles. (Alliance Francaise, 7:15)


Short films, program five

See listing for Tuesday, May 7. (Good Shepherd Hospital, 9:00 am)

Short films, program five

See listing for Tuesday, May 7. (Bethany Residences, 10:00 am)