CHICAGO — It's a big weekend for film and music lovers, with a music-inspired film festival bringing more than 150 performances and screenings to 22 Chicago venues starting Thursday.
The Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (CIMMFest) begins with an opening night conversation, film and performance by Americana composer Van Dyke Parks and ends Sunday evening with a documentary about "The Source Family," a polygamist group that ran a restaurant on Hollywood's Sunset Strip in the 1970s before fleeing to Hawaii.
Between those two events — both at Roscoe Village's Constellation at 3111 N. Ashland Ave. — there are some 100-plus happenings, and most occur on or around Milwaukee Avenue and five Blue Line "L" stops between Wicker Park and Logan Square.
"We're trying to build a walkable South by Southwest, so you can see a lot of things at a lot of cool places," said co-founder Josh Chicoine, 39, who started CIMMFest five years ago with friends Ilko Davidov and Carmine Cervi.
Fourteen venues on or off Milwaukee Avenue between Division Street and Kimball Avenue are planning to host screenings of international movies and musical performances such as the New Atlantis Records' musician showcase at Elastic Arts, while venues including Constellation, the Music Box, Hideout and The Burlington will serve as "satellites" according to Chicoine.
Chicoine said he is excited about Melvin Van Peebles, who " invokes the same DIY spirit of the fest" as well as the fact that for the first year, the concerts are as strong as the movies, with 19 live music performances planned.
Chicoine said the opening of Logan Theatre last year enabled a "northern bookend" for the fest, and popular Logan Square bars and galleries including Coles, Township, Burlington, Elastics Arts and the Logan Square Studios helped to produce live music shows.
On Friday, the Congress Theater will host an All-Star Funkafied Show featuring JC Brooks and the Uptown sound, and a multimedia panel that will discuss music composition for film.
Wicker Park clubs Double Door, Debonair, Heaven Gallery and Subterranean will all host events and films, along with The Society for Arts, a gallery at 1131 N. Milwaukee Ave. that converts into a 70- seat theater and "serves as southern bookmark," Chicoine said.
On Saturday, maverick filmmaker and Chicago native Van Peebles will receive the CIMMfest Lifetime Achievement Award, which "pays tribute to the outstanding accomplishments of maverick artists who helped to shape and obliterate barriers for today's generation of filmmakers" according to a press release.
The writer, actor and director, who turns 80 this year, ushered in a new era of African-American films with his "Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song," which will be screened during the festival along with two other Van Peebles films, plus a documentary about Van Peebles, "How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It)," by Chicago native Joe Angio.
Other festival highlights include a retrospective celebrating The Rolling Stones’ 50 years of music on film including screenings of 10 concert films and documentaries, and a concert by MacArthur genius grant recipient Corey Harris and blues great Guy Davis, who will perform at Rosa's Lounge Saturday after the world premiere of "True Blues" at Logan Theatre.
In addition to "True Blues," three other premieres have Chicago themes: "The Jesus Lizard: Last," which documents the last performance of the band at Metro on New Year's 2009; "Unconscious Therapy," about the beginnings of House Music in Chicago; "Sacrificial Youth," the punk rock musical by Joe Losurdo ("You Weren’t There").
More than 12,000 attendees are expected to attend CIMMFest, which has corporate and community sponsorships from Columbia College Chicago, ACME Hotel, Ticketfly, ABKCO, Wicker Park Bucktown SSA No. 33, the Logan Theatre, the Music Box Theatre, The Society for Arts and Eagle Rock Entertainment.
Chicoine said while he's "excited about so many things" he's most of all enthused about hosting the hundreds of special guests and participants coming in from around the world.
"There's this visceral energy that takes place, you get to the moments where you step back and feel the energy, that part really excites me," Chicoine said.
All-Access Festival passes are $79 and are available at www.CIMMfest.org. Festival passes include access to film premieres, concerts, Q&As, performances and after parties. Single tickets are priced at $10-$12 (some events are discounted for students with valid ID). Most special events are priced at $15. Concerts are priced per venue.