ENGLEWOOD — The founder of the Englewood Film Festival has a vision to use the annual event as a way to change negative images many people have about the community where he grew up.
Mark Harris, 41, a Hollywood movie director, writer and producer, said he wants Englewood to someday look like Hyde Park, where he has a home. He said people in Englewood should be able to live like people in Hyde Park and walk the streets without the fear of being shot.
"I grew up around 68th and Laflin and I still have family who live in Englewood," Harris said. "A Whole Foods store is coming to Englewood, and that is just the beginning. I envision more developments starting up until Englewood looks like other neighborhoods like Hyde Park."
The purpose of the 3rd Annual Englewood Film Festival, which runs from Oct. 24-27, "is to uplift, inspire and encourage residents to think big and be proud of their community," Harris said. "I want to put a spotlight on Englewood to show the world that good things do happen there."
Celebrity panelists for the festival include actress Erica Hubbard and actor Richard Gallion, who are both Chicago natives. Actor Darrin Dewitt Henson will also be participating as a panelist, according to Harris.
While most of the events are free, Harris said movie screenings are not. Tickets for movie screenings are available at the door but Harris recommends buying tickets in advance online.
"Last year we had between 400-500 people attend the festival and movie tickets sold out early," he added.
This year events will be held at Kelly Library, 6151 S. Normal Blvd; Team Englewood High School, 6201 S. Stewart Ave., and movies will be shown at the Chatham 14 Theater, 210 E. 87th St. In 2011, the film festival was held at Lindblom Math and Science Academy High School in West Englewood.
Festival organizers are picking up the entire tab for the event.
"We are very picky about who we want as sponsors. We do not want any alcohol or tobacco companies as sponsors because that is not what we promote," Harris said. "You'll see a lot of events sponsored by these types of companies, but not us."
Workshops, movie screenings and countless networking opportunities will be available, Harris said. Movies will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25; 3 p.m. Oct. 26 and 4 and 6 p.m. Oct. 27.