The 16th annual Women in the Director’s Chair International Film & Video Festival runs Friday through Sunday, March 21 through 23. It highlights shorts as well as features by women, including documentary, animated, narrative, and experimental works. Screenings are at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl.; Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division; and the Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Tickets are $7, $5 for Women in the Director’s Chair members, students, and senior citizens with a valid ID; festival passes are also available. For more information call 773-281-4988.


Messages From Home

Films and videos from France, Canada, and the U.S., by Diane Bonder, Catherine Quinn, Julia Pimsleur, Kirsten Johnson, Kathleen Sweeney, and Portia Cobb. (Kino-Eye Cinema, 6:00)

The Lost Garden: The Life and Cinema of Alice Guy-Blache

A fascinating Canadian documentary by Marquise LePage (1995) about the French film pioneer (1873-1968) who was the head of production at Gaumont for several years after the turn of the century. It’s estimated that she produced, directed, or wrote more than 700 films. Several talking-head interviews are featured, including ones with Guy-Blache, near the end of her life, and with Francis Lacassin, a major historian of early French silent cinema. On the same program, a short documentary about Canadian conceptual photographer Michelle Normoyle, Peggy Thompson’s Broken Images (1996). (JR) (Film Center, 6:00)

A Journey Within a Journey

A personal documentary by Chitra Neogy, who returns to southern India after the death of her father and documents the folklore and art of the villages of Kerala. (Film Center, 7:30)

Further Adventures of Animated Women

See Critic’s Choice. (Kino-Eye Cinema, 10:30)


A Woman’s Work Is Always Done

Short films and videos, mainly documentaries, by Anita Chang, Lina Hoshino, Wendy Own, Thalia Drori, Charlotte La Garde, Cheryl Hess, and Melissa Thompson. (Kino-Eye Cinema, noon)

Keeping It Real: Young Women Speak Out !

Documentary videos by Zarina Barnett, Street Level Youth Media, Ayanna M. U’Dongo, Barbara Mozinski, Shareka King, Sujey Oller, Denise Vega, Lizbeth Sanchez, and April Smith. (DuSable Museum, 1:00)

Reclaiming the Road

Video documentaries by Zakia Carter, Katrina Jordan, Tracy Huling, and Kathy Katz. (Kino-Eye Cinema, 2:00)


Documentary films and videos from the U.S., UK, and New Zealand by Beverly Singer, Lawan Jirasuradej, Veena Cabreros-Sud, Gurinder Chadha, Mandalina Stanisich, and Jennifer Frame and Jay Rosenblatt. (Kino-Eye Cinema, 4:00)

Paternity Is Uncertain

Films and videos by Dulcie Clarkson, Sayer Frey, Wendy Levy, Diane Zander, Annette Otto, Guerlande St. Louis, Sambo Mean, Alix Umen, and Lani Sciandra. (Kino-Eye Cinema, 6:00)

Conjure Women

A documentary by Demetria Royals devoted to African-American women performers–Cassandra Wilson, Robbie McCauley, Anita Gonzalez, and Carrie Mae Weems–who use their work to attempt to recover their African roots. (DuSable Museum, 7:00)

Sticks and Stones . . .

The longest film on this program, Robin Cline’s Pretty Mean, concerns a hard-to-believe crime that occurred in Madison, Indiana, a few years back: a girl was killed by other teenagers as a result of a lesbian love triangle involving a 12-year-old. With commendable honesty, Cline recognizes her inability to enter their world; she films herself retracing the girls’ steps, worrying that she’s satisfying “some sick obsession” as actors reenact the crime. But the film disappoints because it becomes almost solely about Cline’s inability to understand the case–which we already knew was baffling and whose facts she doesn’t even present very clearly. Zelda Lin’s Dollhouse combines Claymation and puppets to produce scary, if somewhat obscure, imagery; Kella Prill’s Sugar and Spice is a pedestrian, occasionally trite view of a young tomboy. But the fourth film on the program, Lori Silverbush’s Sticks and Stones, is a small gem; this story of a young boy taunted by bullies is filmed with sensitive subjective framing and editing and makes effective use of its factory-town locale. (FC) (Kino-Eye Cinema, 8:00)

Dykes in the Director’s Chair

Films and videos by Monica Nolan, Wendy Levy, Andrea Stoops, Irene Rea, Etang Inyang, Shoshanah Oppenheim, Liza Johnson, and Jill Reiter. (Kino-Eye Cinema, 10:00)


Against the Odds

Films and videos by Anne Lewis, Jill Evans Petzall and Deeds Rogers, Debra Levine, and Jennifer Reeves. (Kino-Eye Cinema, 1:00)

First Nations/Native Nations

The one truly original work on this program of films and videos by and about Native Americans is Beverly Singer’s Video Book, a dense series of synthetic images that are combined collagelike to ask questions rather than present answers. A variety of video effects–an image is “tiled” to produce a grid of copies of itself–results in allusive images that are like small, self-contained poems. Women and Men Are Good Dancers, by Arlene Bowman, is a kind of rock video of traditional Cree music and dance, more interesting for its content than for the way it’s made; “Real Indian”, by Malinda Maynor, a Lumbee Indian, is a look at the identity of the Lumbee, many of whom are light skinned and can “pass.” The longest work on the program, Katie Jennings’s hour-long Huchoosedah: Traditions of the Heart is a feel-good, fuzzy-headed PBS-style documentary best characterized by its image of a canoe in front of an oversized setting sun. It offers interesting information–about, for example, the attempt to preserve the unique language of the Upper Skagit, now spoken by less than a dozen people–but the TV-documentary collage form obscures more than it illuminates. (FC) (Kino-Eye Cinema, 3:00)

Uncovering Buried Histories

Documentaries, some of them experimental, by Sarah Galloway, Diane Nerwen, Kym Ragusa, Nadine Patterson, and Ayoka Chenzira. (Kino-Eye Cinema, 5:00)

What Is to Be Written Here? Viewing and Re-Viewing the Holocaust

Film and videos by Sarah Jane Lapp, Rachel Schreiber, Wendy Oberlander, and the team of Fabienne Rousseau-Lenoir and Martine Habib. (Kino-Eye Cinema, 7:00)