• Joe Swanberg and Kate Lyn Sheil in Silver Bullets

On Thursday at 7 PM, Doc Films continues its local filmmakers series with a “Joe and Kris Swanberg double feature,” with Joe’s Silver Bullets (2011) and Kris’s Empire Builder (2012) screening back-to-back. The pairing makes perfect sense: Bullets is something of a directorial self-portrait and Empire—directed by his wife and featuring him in the role of “the Husband”—offers another reflection. (Also neither movie has yet to receive a run at any Chicago theater.) If that sounds like Swanberg overload to you, Bullets already has your number. The director claims he fashioned the movie as a response to criticisms of his previous work—in fact it often seems to anticipate its own negative reception. Like Swanberg’s subsequent Art History (with which it premiered at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival), Bullets stars the director as someone very much like himself, a low-budget filmmaker who makes improvised, sexually explicit movies on digital video. The character’s ongoing project has created a strain between him and his actress girlfriend (Kate Lyn Sheil), who ends up cheating on him with the director of a low-budget horror movie she’s acting in. Is the story autobiographical or an illustration of what Swanberg’s critics think he deserves?