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'Animals' Film Accepted to SXSW Film Festival Has Ties to Uptown

By Adeshina Emmanuel | February 4, 2014 9:48am
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SXSW 2014

UPTOWN — An independent movie with ties to Uptown is competing in the 2014 SXSW Film Festival next month.

The festival kicks off in Austin, Texas, on March 7 and runs through March 11. One of the films competing, "Animals," features an actor and writer who used to live in Uptown and scenes shot at various locations in Uptown in September.

"Animals" is a drama about a young drug-addicted couple who live "somewhere between homelessness and the fantasy life they imagine for themselves," according to the film's website.

"Though they masterfully con and steal in an attempt to stay one step ahead of their addiction, they are ultimately forced to face the reality of their situation," according to the site.

 Kim Shaw and David Dastmalchian, stars of "Animals."
Kim Shaw and David Dastmalchian, stars of "Animals."
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John Tyler Core

The movie was directed by Collin Schiffli, and stars Kim Shaw and David Dastmalchian. Dastmalchian, a former Uptown resident, also helped write and produce the film.

Dastmalchian, a DePaul graduate, lived in Uptown after college and moved to L.A. after his first big break, an appearance in 2008's "The Dark Knight," as one of the Joker's thugs. "Animals" is inspired by his own struggles with drug addiction.

The actor said he had "lots of friends in the area," including the owner of Sheridan Park Food and Liquor, 1255 W. Wilson Ave., who the actor said "used to help advance me milk and eggs back when I was barely living paycheck-to-paycheck and getting on my feet."

The film was also shot inside Shake Rattle & Read, a quaint used book, record and memorabilia shop at 4812 N. Broadway owned by Rid Addy, who Dastmalchian called "an old friend and one of the coolest people in Uptown."

Parts of "Animals" were shot in Baker and Nosh, a cafe at 1303 W. Wilson Ave.

"Animals" was also shot inside a Flats Chicago building undergoing renovation.

"Jay Michael and the whole Flats team was very helpful and made it really possible for us to shoot so much in Uptown," Dastmalchian said. "They were very committed to helping struggling artists and I think that they will have a very good impact on my old neighborhood."

The film also includes many exterior shots along North Broadway, beneath the "L" tracks between the Wilson and Lawrence Red Line stations, Dastmalchian said.

Dastmalchian said with "all of the old cement support blocks and the tracks overhead with the city skyline in the south," the shots were "amazing."

"Uptown looks so beautiful in this film," he said

Dastmalchian also had words of gratitude for the people of Uptown.

"So many people were helpful in getting this film made while we were in Chicago and a majority of them came right out of Uptown," he said, mentioning that a lot of extras and background actors came from the community. "It really was a dream to come back to my old neighborhood and feel like I was back with family."