FREE REMINDER FILMS: CIFF visits South Side Parkway Ballroom with local slate


The 57th Chicago International Film Festival includes in its Black Perspective list a number of short films and in its Parkway Ballroom list another number of short films that will be screened FREE at the Parkway Ballroom. The dates are Saturday October 22 and Friday October 23 at 7 p.m. The address is 4455 S. King Drive.

These shorts will also be screened at other locations throughout the festival, October 13-24. Click on the links to find out how to register to attend these screenings. I was able to view these shorts and the information is listed below:

Illuminating Gazes – Black Perspectives – 98 minutes

Friday, October 22 at 7 p.m., Parkway Ballroom

This suite of short films offers nuanced approaches to storytelling, plunging into self-discovery, cultural heritages and the creation of safe spaces. With works by: Nina Lee, Juliana Kasumu, Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena N. Harold, Adeyemi Michael, Michael Omonua, Topaz Jones and Rubberband.

Synopsis: One morning on her way to school, Billie unexpectedly finds a new friend in Artistic (USA).

In Babybangz (UK / US), a New Orleans hairdressing salon becomes a place of common reflection. The owner of this barber shop is originally from the 13th District of New Orleans and is not just a barber, but a de facto therapist. She holds inspiring sessions in her boutique and truly accompanies women who decide to “cut” everything through what can be an emotional process.

An aspiring writer is working on finalizing an article for Pride (US), a 1980s school newspaper in Charlottesville, focusing on issues affecting black students. In The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be (UK), climate change has ravaged the Earth as a desperate nomad seeks solace. Boundaries dissolve between church, theater, faith in rehearsal (Nigeria).

Don’t Go Tellin ‘Your Momma (US) offers a look at black identity through twenty-six vignettes representing the letters of the alphabet. This short film struck me in how traditional alphabet learning cards are overturned with an eclectic new take.

Veteran actor Bill Duke stars in ‘The Vandal.’

Topaz Jones uses the Simple Alphabet in the latest short film to teach people about African American culture in such sensational and breathtaking vignettes. All vignettes lend themselves to teaching (or re-teaching) the alphabet to anyone in a cool and “swaggeristic” way. Some examples:

A = Amphetamines: Shows the euphoria that can be manifested when one soaks himself in amphetamines.

B = Blue: Shows someone wary in their thoughts.

C = Code Change: Shows what young black men go through to assimilate into the preppy world.

G = Garden: speaks of “apartheid” food, as opposed to food “deserts”.

N = Nappy: highlights the beauty of curly hair.

T = Time: can resonate with many black people, showing the importance of young children getting home on time.

On the program: director Nina Less (artistic), directors Topaz Jones and Rubberband (Don’t Go Tellin ‘Your Momma).

Shorts 7: Illuminating Gazes (Black Perspectives – Cinema Chicago (

Parkway Short Film Program – 80 minutes

Saturday, October 23 at 7 p.m., Parkway Ballroom

Synopsis: Three children worry that their beloved school bus driver will feel lonely this summer without them in Cupids, USA. The school kids in this short are so adorable as they imagine different people they’ve known from school to become a suitable suitor for Ms. Cheryl and travel with her to Paris. They don’t know that she already has a mate. The video game of life is played through stop-motion thumbnails in Champion Edition (US).

A young student questions the meaning of success while competing for a place at the prestigious National Spelling Bee in Winning in America (US). The young student struggles to keep up with all the words she has to memorize, but she is equally disturbed by her father who pushes her to surpass herself and win the contest. Her thoughts are that her father can barely say the words he hammers her on learning; thinking that a victory is all for his own good. Nice view of the Hyde Park district of Chicago. Joan Jett Blakk’s historic candidacy for the White House in 1992 is discussed in The Beauty President (US). In Cracked (US), a fiery young girl confronts her traumatic past by falling in love for the first time. After losing his great love and undergoing a lobotomy, Harold’s mind turns as he intensely seeks peace in The Vandal (US). Older generations are forced to question their worth, while facing unmet emotional needs in Speck of Dust (US). A black family whose land is submerged by the ghosts of the past must face the apparitions in Inheritance (United States).

With works by Zoey Martinson, Christopher Chan, Amrita Singh, Whitney Skauge, Lin Que Ayoung, Eddie Alcazar, Simo Ezoubeiri and Annalize Lockhart.

Parkway – Cinema Chicago Short Film Program ( Click on Chicago International Film Festival ( for more information on the entire festival program.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, MSJ, is the entertainment editor for the Chicago Crusader. She is a recipient of the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Entertainment Writing Award, contributor to “Rust Belt Chicago” and author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood: South Side of Chicago.” For more information, search for the title online or Old School Adventures from Englewood — South Side of Chicago ( or email: [email protected]

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