Stage & Screen

Film Clubs

A sampling of South Side film clubs

Thumy Phan

While there are plenty of theaters throughout the South Side to satisfy your moviegoing needs, the Weekly wants to point out a few small “microcinemas” that might’ve slipped your mind. These theaters and collectives, either out of necessity or by design, are more out of the way. They play movies and help promote projects that otherwise might not have the support necessary to get a debut. This is by no means a comprehensive list; we just want to give curious and adventurous readers a starting point. Other great film clubs include the Bridgeport Film Club and the Community Film Workshop in Woodlawn. (Austin Brown)

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1. Group 312 Films
The collective of artists known as Group 312 is serious about pulling together filmmakers whose experience and background runs the gamut. They gather contributors from not only seasoned video artists and musicians, but also fledgling filmmakers. “Almost nobody has an excuse not to participate,” an organizer once told Newcity. The group holds monthly meetings to share short films created in response to a particular theme, such as “The End,” and provide support and feedback. Film screenings are free, and membership in the group comes without obligations or fees; Group 312 describes its endeavors as being about “creativity for creativity’s sake.” The group’s online presence has dropped off recently, so it may take a little time to get in touch, but the community should be well worth the effort. Group 312 Films, 1932 S. Halsted St. facebook.com/Group312Films (Olivia Stovicek)

2.  filmfront
The premise of filmfront, a Pilsen cine-club, is simple: bringing together artists, writers, and anyone who enjoy film and conversation. Founded by Chicagoans Alyx Christenson, Rudy Medina, Alan Medina, Malia Haines-Stewart, and Oscar Solis (who is no longer involved), the club values discourse and discussion above all. Through free screenings of films, ranging from classic to foreign to amateur, filmfront aims to go past simply watching movies in order to examine their cultural role for a public audience. Despite this lofty goal, filmfront (whose name is a play on the idea of a storefront) is deceptively small, consisting of a small screening room that also houses panels, discussions, lectures, and exhibitions. Additionally, the minimal website design and contact information leave prospective viewers with a sense of mystery, and little more is available on the work of filmfront than a few Facebook event descriptions of past films. The cine-club may not stay small and secretive for long, however—filmfront received a $6,000 grant from the Propeller Fund in late November. filmfront, 1740 W. 18th St. filmfront.org (Clyde Schwab)

3. Little House
With the exception of a brief blurb in the Reader last June, there’s not much on the web about this Pilsen private residence turned experimental cinema, and that seems to be the way the organizers like it: the information on the movie house’s Facebook page consists of one email, one home address, and most recently, a flow of cryptic pictures that seem to “advertise” upcoming showings, though without saying what films, exactly, are going to be shown. In addition to these “mystery screenings” of 16mm films, Little House’s founder, director, and sole employee Michael Wawzenek says he’s particularly proud of past screening series he’s put on, one about police brutality and one showing the films of an arts collective from Mexico City called Vico. The club, which runs out of a room in the back of Wawzenek’s house, began a year-and-a-half ago with a few of his friends, but has since drawn film enthusiasts from Pilsen and Bridgeport. Since the “theater” can only hold fifteen people comfortably, screenings are always intimate, but Wawzenek’s range is limited. For that reason, he’s begun to collaborate on larger screenings with another Pilsen movie club, filmfront. Little House, 1851 S. Allport St. facebook.com/littlehousechicago (Jake Bittle)

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