Next Thursday the fifth annual Chicago International Movies and Music Festival will kick off what is sure to be another great film and music experience here in the windy city. Last year’s winner of the festival’s award for best short documentary is back to screen a series of short films about his father, acclaimed musician Van Dyke Parks. I was lucky enough to see Parks play a show last year at Riverfront Theatre with Conor Oberst, and even if you don’t enjoy his music, he is a very interesting guy who has worked with many giants in the music industry. Like many of the events, the ticket price gets you in to see the films as well as a performance and a discussion session.
This is my first time covering the festival, and I couldn’t be more pleased. As a boy movies were always my first love. As I got older I started getting more and more into music, and making it to a movie theater became less interesting than going to see a band or just listening to records at home. I don’t know if it’s the proximity to Music Box Theatre or just my tastes balancing out, but film has entered my life once again in a major way, and CIMM Fest is like a huge buffet cooked specifically to my desires.
I’m scheduled to cover one event a day, in accordance with what my work schedule will allow. I’m most excited for Saturday night at 9:30, when I get to see Melvin Van Peebles accept the inaugural Badasssssss Lifetime Achievement Award. His one-two punch of Watermelon Man and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song can be held up against any director’s work. Absolutely the epitome of cool, no one deserves a career-spanning award more. The night features a film retrospective, as well as a Q&A and live musical performance by Melvin Van Peebles Wid Laxative (like jazz/funk//gospel/spoken word). It’s gonna be an amazing time, and tickets are still available.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones, there will be 10 documentaries about the band showing throughout the festival. Labeled CIMMpathy For The Stones, there is quite a collection of great stuff on display. I’ll be seeing Stones In Exile, which talks about the making of one of the greatest double albums of all time, Exile On Main Street. I’ve seen a couple of the others, and I definitely recommend checking out The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus. If nothing else, you get to see The Dirty Mac (John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and Mitch Mitchell) play “Yer Blues” on the big screen, which is one of the most unbelievable things ever.
Another great one for blues buffs is the documentary chronicling the show The Stones did with Muddy Watters here in Chicago at the Checkerboard Lounge. I’ve heard the audio, but not seen the movie. Basically, it’s a Watters concert with The Rolling Stones as his backing band. This one is playing at Music Box on Friday at 6pm. Stones In Exile is later that night at 9:45.
If film isn’t your scene, there are a lot of great music showcases as well. One that I think will definitely sell out is the Bloodshot Showcase featuring Lydia Loveless and Luke Winslow-King. It takes place at The Hideout on Friday night at 10pm. Tickets are $15. If you don’t know Bloodshot Records, they’re a Chicago label that has been putting out great albums by the likes of Ryan Adams, Neko Case, and Old 97’s since 1994.
Thursday night Aktar Aktar will be headlining a night of music at Subterranean starting at 10pm. Playing with them is Alma Negra, Bongonya, and The Stockyards. I’ve heard The Stockyards, and if punk is your thing, you’ll dig them. I’ve never seen Aktar Aktar, but from what I’ve heard, I think they’re pretty good. I like their approach, and they seem to be having a good time in the videos I’ve seen.
There’s so much at the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival that it’s hard to comprehend. Take a look at the lineup and try not to feel overwhelmed. There are so many movies and showcases that I’d love to see, but I can’t. If you’re a fan of either film or music, this festival certainly has something for you. I hope to see packed houses at every event I go to. The guys who put this on do a great job selecting material that is interesting and entertaining. It’s a great addition to the culture in Chicago.