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New Film Fest Puts South Side On The Big Screen

"Cooley High" is one of the movies being shown at the South Side Film Fest this weekend.
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South Side Film Fest

CHATHAM — A new film festival opens this weekend with a full lineup of films shot right on the city’s South Side.

The South Side Film Festival runs Friday-Sunday at Studio Movie Grill at 210 W 87th St. in Chatham, kicking off with a screening of "Love Jones," celebrating the 20th anniversary of its release.

A $40 ticket Friday covers a 6:30 p.m. reception including food and drink that will be followed by "Love Jones," filmed in Chicago and starring Chicago native Larenz Tate.

Michelle Kennedy, a Hyde Park native and Kenwood Academy graduate, said she created the festival as a way to celebrate the South Side and the films made there. She said she was frustrated there wasn’t already something that highlighted South Side films.

 Studio Movie Grill-Chatham will host screenings for the South Side Film Festival.
Studio Movie Grill-Chatham will host screenings for the South Side Film Festival.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

“There are nearly a hundred film festivals that occur every year in Chicago, and none of them are [focused] on the South Side,” Kennedy said. “I decided to create a cultural event that would allow people to come down to the South Side and see its contributions to cinema.”

She also wanted to hold it on the South Side to make the fest easier to get to and welcoming to local residents.

“Sometimes film festivals seem pretentious and inaccessible to the average person,” Kennedy said. “I wanted something that’s more accessible to your average everyday person on the South Side, something they’ll be able to relate to.”

Here's the rest of the lineup:

• "Mahogany" — Noon Saturday. An aspiring Chicago designer goes to fashion school and becomes an international sensation. Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams, reunited.

"Cooley High" — 2:30 p.m. Saturday. A coming-of-age '60s-era classic about three buddies attending the now-shuttered Chicago high school. Kennedy said former state Sen. Howard Brookins Sr. will be a guest speaker. He was an extra in the 1975 comedy-drama.

"Stony Island" — 6 p.m. Saturday. The film tells the story of Richie Bloom, the only white kid on the block, who forms an R&B band with his best friend, Kevin.

"The Interrupters" — 11 a.m. Sunday. The film follows the life of the CeaseFire group that works to curb violence by intervening and helping young people resolve conflicts.

"Hoop Dreams" — 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Sundance Film Fest-winning documentary chronicles the struggle of two West Side high school basketball players in their quest for NBA stardom.

• A trio of short films that includes "Beyond the Sole" (34 minutes), "Rise" (18 minutes) and "All Kids Go To Hell" (7 minutes) — 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Saturday and Sunday tickets are $16. With a student ID, tickets are $10 for children and teens Sunday.

The three short films that will screen Sunday are Kennedy's favorites, she said.

“I feel like they’re so different and interesting and informative,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said she put together the list of films but asked people for suggestions and hopes the festival becomes an annual event.

Organizers strongly encourage those interested to buy their tickets online through Eventbrite.