William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

Now in its second year, the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival is one of the more unusual events on the city’s film-fest schedule, combining live music and video-projection screenings of music-related movies. This year’s event runs Thu-Sun 3/4-3/7, with shows and screenings at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington), Heaven Gallery (1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor), Lincoln Hall (2424 N. Lincoln), Schubas (3159 N. Southport), and Saint Paul’s Cultural Center (2215 W. North). Movies and panels at the Chicago Cultural Center are free; other movie programs listed here are $10 unless otherwise noted. Festival passes cost $40, and movies-only passes are $30. For ticket info and a complete festival schedule, see cimmfest.org.

This year’s festival opens with the Chicago premiere of Yony Leyser’s William S. Burroughs: A Man Within (Thu 3/4, 7 PM, Saint Paul’s Cultural Center, $20), the first feature-length documentary about the legendary avant-garde writer and cracker-barrel comedian since Howard Brookner’s long-unavailable Burroughs (1983). Leyser will attend the screening, which also includes an appearance by performance artist Susana Ventura, aka Penny Arcade, and music by Austrian band Naked Lunch and headliners Thee Majesty featuring Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. (Ventura and P-Orridge are both in the film as well.)

The festival is genuinely international in its scope, as evidenced by some of the documentaries screening this year. Jeremie Reichenbach’s Teshumara: Guitars of the Tuareg Rebellion (Fri 3/5, 4 PM, Chicago Cultural Center) looks at the blues- and rock-inspired sounds that accompanied the rebellion of Tuareg nomads against the Malian government in the early 60s. Ngawang Choephel will attend the Chicago premiere screening of his documentary Tibet in Song (Sat 3/6, 7 PM, Chicago Cultural Center), part of his crusade to preserve the musical culture of Tibet. Jacob Penchansky’s documentary The Mountain Music Project (Sat 3/6, 1 PM, Chicago Cultural Center) follows two Virginia bluegrass musicians as they explore the folk music of Nepal. And Emma Franz’s Intangible Asset No. 82 (Sat 3/6, 6 PM, Heaven Gallery) documents the efforts of Australian drummer Simon Barker to track down a mysterious shaman and percussionist in South Korea.

A wide range of musical genres is also represented. Peter Esmode’s Trimpin: The Sound of Invention (Sat 3/6, 3 PM, Chicago Cultural Center) profiles the eponymous avant-gardist as he collaborates with the Kronos Quartet. Paul Smaczny and Maria Stodtmeier’s documentary El Sistema (Sun 3/7, 2 PM, Chicago Cultural Center) is about a Venezuelan program that has recruited a quarter million mostly poor children for youth orchestras. And Gilles Weinzaepflen’s Prelude to Sleep (Fri 3/5, 2:30 PM, Chicago Cultural Center) profiles the French electronic-music pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey.

There’s of course a raft of documentaries about individual artists and bands, including Tom Ze (Fri 3/5, 5:30 PM, Saint Paul’s Cultural Center), Of Montreal (Fri 3/5, 8 PM, Heaven Gallery), Chicago’s Polkaholics (Fri 3/5, 8 PM, Chicago Cultural Center), Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley (Sat 3/6, 3 PM, Lincoln Hall), and, in a double feature, Mogwai and the Mountain Goats (Sun 3/7, 2 PM, Lincoln Hall).

Those are just the movies. Among the concerts scheduled are Mucca Pazza and the Lawrence Peters Outfit with Josh Chicoine of the M’s (Sat 3/6, 9 PM, Saint Paul’s Cultural Center, $12), Grant Hart and King Pluto’s Whispering Choir featuring the Lonesome Organist (Fri 3/5, 10 PM, Saint Paul’s Cultural Center, $10), Robyn Hitchcock (Fri 3/5, 10:30 PM, Schubas, sold out except for festival pass holders; see the List), Jon Langford (Sat 2/6, 7:30 PM, Schubas, $10), and, as part of the closing-night festivities, DJ Spooky (Sun 3/7, 8 PM, Lincoln Hall, $20). —J.R. Jones