Date Of Production
1982 – 1983
A compilation reel featuring candid footage and interviews with various prominent members of the early-'80s Chicago independent film scene, many of whom discuss the 10th anniversary of the founding of Chicago Filmmakers. Includes footage of filmmaker Tom Palazzolo, Brenda Webb (who was co-director of Chicago Filmmakers at the time and continues as Executive Director as of 2023), Joh Hoffman (then also a co-director of Chicago Filmmakers), Julia Lesage (co-founder of left-feminist film journal Jump Cut), Gordon Quinn (co-founder of Kartemquin Films), and Barbara Scharres (long-time programming director of the Film Center of the School of the Art Institute), among others.
The film begins with behind-the-scenes footage of Tom Palazzolo filming performance artists Andy Somma and Ellen Fisher for his 1982 film Caligari's Cure. Actress Carmela Rago tells the camera it is the first day of shooting, and Palazzolo admits to being nervous, as he is used to making documentaries, not scripted films.
The next scene is of Palazzolo prior to the opening of a show featuring his paintings at Karen Lennox Gallery in Chicago. He dances briefly for the camera, and then takes Stamets on a guided tour of the show, pointing out details within his artwork and making last-minute changes to a painting. At the opening of the show, filmmaker Darrell Moore talks to the camera about how Palazzolo gave him one of the paintings on display, Richard Kaplan makes an announcement into a microphone, and Somma goofs off and makes funny noises as Caligari's Cure plays on a monitor in the gallery.
After some brief shots of Palazzolo filming around Chicago, the camera now turns to Brenda Webb, who muses on whether or not filmmaking is a gamble. Then, Joh Hoffman laments being "one of the only people in Chicago's film community that Tom [Palazzolo] has never asked for a favor," and plays coy when asked by Stamets about what granting institutions have said about Palazzolo's work.
At a filmmaking workshop, Palazzolo trains students on focusing a 16mm lens. Next, Richard Peña (then the Director of the Film Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) is asked what he thinks the history of cinema will say about Palazzolo's work. Henry Sheehan (then-film critic at the Chicago Journal) is interviewed at Promontory Point, followed by a brief shot of Henry Hanson, arts columnist and culture editor at Chicago Magazine.
Next is a sequence of Joh Hoffman around the Chicago Filmmakers office. He teases Stamets for not returning borrowed equipment, and is then himself teased for his bookkeeping practices. Black-and-white footage of the Chicago Filmmakers team is intercut with color footage Webb shot at the Indianapolis 500, which includes a shot of a man pulling his penis out of his pants.
Somewhere outdoors, Paul Chen talks to the camera while helping film a segment called "Tell a Joke on T.V." After three days of shooting, he admits that the "situation's gotten pretty desperate" because they "haven't heard anything funny" yet. Next, Julia Lesage makes an earnest pitch for donations of video equipment to support the Sandinista Labor Union in Nicaragua.
Chicago Filmmakers volunteer Bob Levy is filmed upside down in front of the neon Chicago Filmmakers sign. Filmmaker Mark Rance (who made Marquette Park II with Palazzolo) fondly describes Chicago Filmmakers while standing in front of the building, praising the institution for giving local Chicago filmmakers a place to work so they don’t have to go to Los Angeles or New York to make films.
Gordon Quinn congratulates Chicago Filmmakers on ten years as he works on his latest project, Taylor Chain II: A Story of Collective Bargaining, on a Steenbeck. The next shot is in the offices of Women in the Director’s Chair, where we can see Gaylon Emerzian, Jamie Cesaer, and Doug Chamberlin, among others. This is followed by a scene of an enthusiastic Emerzian (co-founder of the organization) jumping up and down and chanting "Where are the garbage bags? What did you do with them?" into the microphone, getting ready for the premiere of her film Father's Day.
After brief shots of a cocker spaniel and filmmaker Adele Friedman, there is a long scene of Barbara Scharres making goofy puppets out of publicity stills of Marlon Brando, Robby Müller, Néstor Almendros, and Dennis Hopper as she recalls fond memories at Chicago Filmmakers.
Filmmaker Claire Whitaker toasts to the future of Chicago Filmmakers, and laments how expensive film processing can be. Playwright and filmmaker David Hauptschein is interviewed from the backseat of a car, talking about his 1981 film Fecundation. The film ends with Darrell Moore reminiscing about a crowded Immune System concert at Chicago Filmmakers in 1978.
Interspersed throughout the film are fragmentary flashes of the key institutions of the moment, including the classic emblem of the Chicago International Film Festival and a young girl holding up a shirt for the Blacklight Film Festival (founded by Floyd Webb around the time this film was shot).
30 min 57 sec
color and B&W
Has Been Digitized?
Language Of Materials
Participants And Performers