ROGERS PARK — Rogers Park hits the silver screen next week at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival with the debut of a movie named after the Far North Side neighborhood in which it was shot and where its creators live.
"I'm hoping especially a hometown crowd is going to be able to feel, 'Yeah, this very much feels like Chicago," said the film's director, Kyle Henry. "And maybe people who don't know about Rogers Park and don't know what's special about Rogers Park, but live in Chicago, will say, 'Hey, now I know why people talk about that neighborhood as being a special place.'"
The film, titled "Rogers Park," follows the lives of several average couples over the course of a year, providing an "exploration of the inevitable traumas and triumphs of lives intertwined with one another" and "navigates the reasons for what we do, who we love and why we hurt each other."
The movie will screen at 6:15 p.m. Thursday ($15 per ticket) and again at 3:30p.m. Oct. 23 ($8 per ticket) at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois St.
When the pair started working on the film several years ago, its name was "The Year That Changed Us." But, like many movies, as its creation evolved so did its name, Henry said.
Not only did he want to help tell a story rarely represented in film — the serious and varied struggles many middle-age couples face and the ways they work through them — but he also wanted to tell a story of the lives of average people in his own neighborhood.
"We tried to use the location symbolically and metaphorically like, 'We're all in this together; we're all kind of out over the water, trying to come to terms with who we are,'" Henry said.
Locals will recognize shooting locations such as the Loyola 'L' stop, Chicago Park District facilities like Loyola Beach and its pier, Maddiebird Bakery, and distinctive lakefront views only a Far North Sider could recognize.
Even Ald. Joe Moore's (49th) office agreed to participate and let Henry's crew shoot inside one of its locations, as one of the film's characters works at an alderman's office.
Rogers Park residents even lent the inside of their homes and apartments to Henry's cast and crew, while other interiors were shot in nearby Andersonville and Evanston.
"Everyone was very excited and giving," the director said. "I really appreciate that my neighborhood opened its doors for this film."
Check out a trailer for "Rogers Park" below.