Windy City International Documentary Festival

The Windy City International Documentary Festival, presented by Columbia College and the International Documentary Association, runs Sunday, September 20, through Sunday, September 27, at the Field Museum of Natural History, Roosevelt at Lake Shore Drive, and at Columbia College’s Collins Theater, 624 S. Michigan. All screenings are free, but the Field Museum’s entrance fee applies for films showing there. For more information call 312-344-7773.


Singsong Tumbuan (Mask Dance)

Marsha Berman directed this 1995 film about the preparation and performance of a mask dance ceremony in Papua New Guinea. (Field Museum, 11:00 am)

Juliette of the Herbs

A joint production of the U.S. and the United Kingdom, this 74-minute film chronicles the life of Juliette de Bairacli Levy, an 85-year-old woman who’s spent six decades collecting herbal cures from nomads and other subcultural groups. Tish Streeten directed. (Field Museum, 11:50 am)

M & M in New York

Denise Iris directed this 1997 memoir of her octogenarian grandmother paying a visit to the U.S. from Romania. (Field Museum, 1:10)

The Unholy Tarahumara

An hour-long film by Kathryn Ferguson about the breakdown of traditional life in an isolated community of Chihuahua, Mexico. (Field Museum, 2:00)

Cuba by Bike

In this 1995 film, Danish documentarian Stig Hartkopf focuses on the effects of tourism on a changing Cuba. (Field Museum, 3:00)


Ebrahim Mokhtari’s 1995 film explores modern Iran through a single family that grows saffron. (Field Museum, 4:00)

Letters Not About Love

This experimental documentary by Jacki Ochs chronicles a seven-year correspondence between a Russian and an American poet. (Field Museum, 4:45)


Ballad of Fire

James Knight directed this hour-long 1997 documentary about a pyromaniac on the loose in Los Angeles and a neighborhood that must navigate between hostile police and vigilantes. (Collins Theater, 7:00)

Occidental Encounters

Yuriko Gamo Romer, a Japanese student at Stanford University, used her engagement to an American man as the starting point for this exploration of mixed marriages. (Collins Theater, 8:00)

The A.C.L.U.

Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey directed this 1997 documentary history of the American Civil Liberties Union, soliciting comments from such diverse personalities as Oliver North, Dave Barry, and Molly Ivins. On the same program, Jessica Hope Woodworth’s Refuge, a three-minute short about a Cambodian refugee running a doughnut shop in San Francisco. (Collins Theater, 8:25)


A Different Path

Two convents, one in Kansas and one in Brooklyn, serve as the backdrop for this 1996 documentary about the wide-ranging activities of nuns in the Catholic church. Marinella Nicholson and Oren Rudavsky directed. (Collins Theater, 7:00)

Dear Dr. Spencer

Danielle Renfrew and Beth Seltzer’s short 1997 film tells the story of a small-town doctor who performed over 40,000 abortions in the years before Roe v. Wade, and the townspeople who protected him. On the same program, Aunt Magg and Me (1997), a ten-minute portrait of an 83-year-old woman living in rural North Carolina; Ellen Walters directed. (Collins Theater, 8:00)

Baby It’s You

Anne Makepeace’s 1997 autobiographical film records her and her husband’s experiences with fertility clinics and explores the experiences of her siblings–one a lesbian parent, another a polygamist, yet another an Appalachian goat farmer–all of whom have tried in unconventional ways to create families of their own. On the same program, Romeo and Juliet of the Forest (1997), a 12-minute short about a man and woman who meet in a nursing home and decide to leave with each other; Slovenian student Bostjan Masera directed. (Collins Theater, 8:40)


Sheila’s Story

A woman struggles to overcome breast cancer in this 55-minute documentary by Mickey Friedman. (Collins Theater, 7:00)

The Vanishing Line

Maren Monsen, an emergency-room physician, directed this imagistic 1997 film about how people deal with death. (Collins Theater, 8:00)

Ronnie’s Feet

K.C. Schillhahn directed this 1997 portrait of Ronnie West, an armless thalidomide victim who triumphed over his disability to become an athlete and a news director. On the same program, Alive in Colma (1996), a four-minute short by Stanford University student Nan Bress about a California town “where the dead outnumber the living.” (Collins Theater, 8:55)

Face First

Mike Grundman directed this 1997 film about himself and three other people who’ve overcome the trauma of facial deformities. (Collins Theater, 9:30)


Father Roy: Inside the School of Assassins

Susan Sarandon narrates this 1997 documentary about Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest who’s worked to expose the torture-training program at the U.S. Army School of the Americas; Robert Richter directed. (Collins Theater, 7:00)

Who’s Last in Line

A half-hour portrait of Orlando Vidal, a schizophrenic trumpeter and member of the patients’ band at Havana’s Hospital de Dementes. German filmmaker Uli Gaulke directed this 1997 film. (Collins Theater, 8:00)

Herbert’s Hippopotamus

Danish-born Paul Alexander Juutilainen wrote and directed this informative, passionate, and moving 1996 video documentary about Frankfurt-school philosopher and social theorist Herbert Marcuse during his final teaching stint at the University of California at San Diego during the late 60s and the 70s. The treatment of Marcuse’s thought and writing is sketchy to say the least, but the accounts of radical campus activities during this era and Marcuse’s role within them are instructive and highly evocative. Among those interviewed are Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, William McGill, Reinhard Lettau, Page DuBois, and Herbert Schiller. (JR) (Collins Theater, 8:35)

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Letters Not About Love film still.