Michael W. Phillips


Not only is Michael W. Phillips the city’s best repertory programmer, he’s also its busiest. Phillips got his start projecting movies for the venerable Classic Film Series at LaSalle Bank and in 2008 took over as programmer, continuing the series’ fine tradition of screening rare films from Hollywood’s golden age. A year later he, Ilko Davidov, and Josh Chicoine launched the eclectic, ambitious Chicago Independent Movies and Music Festival, which Phillips has programmed for three years now, even as he navigated the Classic Film Series through its rocky final years (the bank building was sold and the program ultimately defunded). His proteges at the series, Julian Antos and Rebecca Hall, have reemerged as the Northwest Chicago Film Society with Wednesday-night screenings at the Portage Theater. But Phillips, who lives in Hyde Park, has decided to focus on his own projects. Shock Theater, a first-Fridays series through the end of the year at Wicker Park Arts Center, presents 16-millimeter prints of drive-in horror fare from the collection of Chip Hess. Phillips’s latest brainchild, South Side Projections, will make use of a grant from the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs to present documentary screenings in and around Hyde Park. Coming up: Lord Thing (1970), about the Chicago street gang the Conservative Vice Lords; Keep It Moving, Amina Norman-Hawkins’s account of visiting the Ivory Coast as a hip-hop cultural ambassador; and Marquette Park (1976), Tom Palazzolo’s film about the controversial march by the American Nazi Party. —J.R. Jones