Experimental animator Jim Trainor (far right) plays a U of C dean in Crimes Against Humanity.
  • Experimental animator Jim Trainor (far right) plays a U. of C. dean in Crimes Against Humanity.

Screening this week at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Crimes Against Humanity was cowritten and directed by Jerzy Rose, a local experimental filmmaker who spent several years making shorts before turning to features in 2011 with Some Girls Never Learn. The story centers on Lewis (Mike Lopez), a college dean’s assistant helping with an investigation into a possible coven of satanists in the ethnomusicology department. A bad detective and a cad to boot, Lewis regularly condescends to his live-in girlfriend, Brownie (Lyra Hill), when he bothers to talk to her at all. Over the course of a momentous week, Brownie has an affair with a mysterious young man, gets struck by lightning and hit by a car—while Lewis gets too absorbed in his investigation to notice.

It’s weird stuff—full of non sequitur asides and paranoid subplots—and often pretty funny. The movie feels at times like a game of exquisite corpse; adding to the partylike atmosphere, the supporting cast contains many of Rose’s colleagues from the Chicago experimental film community, including Jim Trainor (The Fetishist), Chris Sullivan (Consuming Spirits), Lori Felker, J.B. Mabe, Adebukola Bodunrin, and Jesse McLean. (For the record, I’m friends with some of these people, though I’d never spoken to Rose before this week.) Rose will attend all three Siskel screenings with cowriter Halle Butler to answer audience questions. The other day I called him up with questions of my own; our conversation follows the jump.