Festival Preview: 2016 CIMMFest Features Films Highlighting Chicago Culture

WARR contributor Demario Phipps-Smith is CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Culture Online

As the Chicago art scene continues to develop and deepen in an age of prosperity and influence, the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival returns this week for its eighth year to help the city celebrate the shared cultures of entertaining visually, mentally and aurally.

CIMMFest, running April 13 through the 17th, is growing into one of the largest festivals in the Midwest. The five-day, city-wide festival features over 150 films including three world premieres and over 130 bands live in concert from various genres. The fest will span across some of Chi-Town’s most diverse neighborhoods, like Logan Square, Wicker Park, Pilsen and Hyde Park.

It also features CIMMCon, a professional and entrepreneurial industry conference that puts attendees in front of the most innovative and cutting-edge minds in the business.

Although the Windy City’s hip-hop scene has captivated the country’s ears as of late, CIMMFest’s list of cinema productions reaches out across many different genre boundaries to highlight visual storytelling and art of the area.

Such projects include:

“Night Smokers of Chicago” (Dir: Eva Studnika) — Logan Theatre, April 16 @ 4:00 pm

A short documentary delving into the lives of three trans men in their respective communities. The production puts a spotlight on how dark the Chicago streets get once in late night hours.

“1001 Afternoons in Chicago” (Dir: David Less) — The Society for Arts, April 14 @ 9:00 pm

A unique, multimedia essay on the city of Chicago through the view of iconic writer and journalist Ben Hecht. The piece includes an original score by the Access Contemporary Music ensemble.

“Horn from the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story” (Dir: John Anderson) — The Society for Arts, April 15 @ 7:00 pm

Hyde Park resident Paul Butterfield made his name as a blues singer during the 1960s while being mentored by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Water. Director Anderson will also show excerpts from his upcoming blues project and discuss his work in bringing awareness to the Chicago blues scene.

“147 Pianos” (Dir: Dolores Wilber) — 1st Ward, April 16 @ 3:00 pm

An experimental documentary on a performance at Lukas Piano Services on the West Side where over 200 musicians played scores (from “Chopsticks” to Chopin) in synchronicity. Underscoring the piece is a tale about the dying piano industry within the rise of digital media.

Also on the bill

Musical icons David Bowie and J Dilla will each be honored posthumously during the fest through a screening and an anticipated concert.

A viewing of the cult-favorite concert film “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” takes place Sunday at Lincoln Hall, the legendary performance, as captured by filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, marked the “death” of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona.

Meanwhile, the remaining members of Slum Village — rapper T3 and rapper/producer Young RJ — will give a special tribute to Dilla Friday at the Promontory as part of their “King’s Court” tour. Also featured will be Detroit hip-hop stalwarts and fellow Dilla collaborators Black Milk, Guilty Simpson and Phat Kat.

Filmmaker Gordon Quinn will be honored as the fourth recipient of the CIMMfest’s BAADASSSSS Award,  which honors distinguished careers and lifetime achievement in movies and music. Quinn’s works include: Prisoner of Her Past, Grassroots Chicago and Festival, the first music documentary to be nominated for an Academy Award.

A full list of CIMMfest’s movie and music events are at CIMMfest.org. Individual event tickets start at $8 for concerts and $12 for films; passes start at $79 with VIP passes at $149. Festival passes and a la carte tickets are currently available at online as well.

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