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Logan Square Home Movie Night to Highlight Neighborhood Characters, Changes

Blizzard of '79
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JoAnn Elam

LOGAN SQUARE — The Chicago Film Archives and Comfort Station Logan Square is putting the call out for Logan Square's 16mm, 8mm and Super 8 home movies to be shown Wednesday for the first Logan Square Home Movie Night.

The event is a neighborhood-centric take on Chicago Film Archives' annual Chicago Home Movie Day, where people from all walks of life bring their old home movies of everything from daily Chicago life to big events like the blizzard of 1979, or even Chicago family vacations in other parts of the world.

"We're starting to branch out and do neighborhood-specific [Home Movie Days], so we're just putting our feelers out to see if these events can work," said Chicago Film Archives collection manager Anne Wells.

 A still of JoAnn Elam circa 1981 from her film "Boyers & Rhinos," which will be screened at Wednesday's event.
A still of JoAnn Elam circa 1981 from her film "Boyers & Rhinos," which will be screened at Wednesday's event.
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Chicago Film Archives

She and her crew will be hauling three projectors out to the event — one for each format — to be ready to throw on any home movies people bring.

Wells is hopeful attendees will bring Logan Square-centric home movies, but if they don't, there will still be plenty to watch — thanks to the late prolific Logan Square-based filmmaker JoAnn Elam.

Elam lived in Logan Square from the 1970s until her death of cervical cancer in 2009 at age 60, during which time she made hundreds of films on a variety of topics ranging from the mundane — her backyard garden or cats — to heavier topics, such as rape and representations of women in film.

Elam also poured years into her "Everyday People" project, which examined the lives of everyday Chicagoans including her colleagues at the post office, where she worked for many years.

After Elam died, her widower, Joe Hendrix, donated all of her works to the Chicago Film Archives, which amounted to nearly 80,000 feet of film, video and audio reel.

CFA has digitized several of Elam's films and made them available on its website and YouTube, but with such a large body of work, much of it still must be the old fashioned way on reel-to-reel projectors.

"So I'm kind of using this program as an excuse to show more of her home movies," Wells said.

Elam met Hendrix, also a postal worker, in the early 1980s and the two spent nearly two decades together in Logan Square.

Hendrix has since moved out of the neighborhood to Belmont Cragin, but said he's excited see some of his late wife's works on the screen once again.

"Thank god they're doing a lot of work with her film, I sure am appreciative of that," he said. "It will be great to see her work again and remind me of her."

In the meantime, CFA hopes other longtime neighborhood residents will poke around their own attics and basements to find some film treasures of their own.

"The main goal is for people to bring in their films and then I'll kind of supplement them with films I bring," said Wells.

More information about Wednesday's event can be found on the CFA website.