The Sketch

Arts, Briefly

By Robert Sorrell

48 Hour Film Festival

This past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 12 teams of UChicago students had a better answer to “what are you doing this weekend?” than “homework.” They decided instead to stay up all night writing, shooting, and editing a short film as part of Fire Escape Films’ quarterly 48 Hour Film Festival.

For the love of cinema, these students sacrificed sleep, study, and sanity (not to mention the first nice weekend of spring) to craft films using the intriguing names thought up by WHPK, Off-Off Campus, Major Activities Board, COUP, and FOTA including “Capitalist Daughter Works the Late Shift,” “Everybody’s Stalking,” “I’ll See You At Sunset, Calhoun,” and “Shady Sadie,” among other puzzling and giggle-inducing monikers.

The fruits of their labors will be screened this Tuesday, April 22 at 9:30 p.m. in the Max Palevsky Cinema on the first floor of Ida Noyes Hall. Judges representing WHPK, Off-Off Campus, and Doc Films will make up the judges panel along with Hyde Park visual artist Zachary J. Williams.

Viewers can also pick up a free copy of the documentary Scavengers, capturing the 2007 UChicago Scav Hunt, by past student and Fire Escape member Dave Franklin (A.B. ’08).

(Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 East 59th Street, Tuesday, April 22. 9:30 p.m. Free)

The Chicago Palestine Film Festival

The Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago boasted more than European auteurs and professors in turtlenecks this weekend as it greeted the 13th annual Chicago Palestine Film Festival. The festival is just one of the center’s many, notably including the European Union Film Festival, Black Harvest Film Festival, and Festival of Films from Iran.

This past Saturday night the fest kicked off with a screening of the feature film Omar, which critic Andrew O’Hehir called “a tender love story, a haunting tragedy, and an expertly crafted thriller,” with a Skype Q&A session with director Hany Abu-Assad after the screening. Omar received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film this past year.

On Sunday Amina Waheed, a Chicago native, director, filmmaker, and associate producer of Al Jazeera America, took the screen with her short film Corner Stores documenting Abu Muhammad’s experience as a store owner in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Waheed was present for Q&A after the film. Also screened this weekend were the short film Maqloubeh by Nicolas Damuni and the feature film Under the Same Sun by Sameh Zoabi.

The fest was evidence of the film world’s increasing decentralization, with many of the greatest films of our generation produced in locales as diverse as Mexico, Latin America, Iran, and India. And with such great films becoming accessible at local venues such as The Siskel Center there’s little reason to miss them.

The Chicago Palestine Film Festival runs through May 1. Catch Omar this Wednesday, April 23 and Corner Stores this Thursday, April 24. Other films are screening throughout the next two weeks.

(Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 North State Street. Tickets $11, available at the Siskel box office and online at Doc Films Society is hosting a free screening at Omar, Friday May 16 at 4 p.m.)