Chicago OnScreen Local Film Showcase

2016 Official Selections

We are pleased and honored to share this lineup of films with Chicago. The 2016 Chicago Onscreen Official Selections comprise a list of thirteen of the most exciting films and filmmakers currently in Chicago. We’ll tell you a little bit about them here, but to truly experience these amazing stories, you’ll need to see them in the parks!


The Amazing Mr. Ash

Ashod Baboorian, a beloved and eccentric Chicago-area magician has owned and operated a magic shop with his wife for more than 30 years. At 75 years old, Mr. Ash and his shops are venerable landmarks in Chicago, and in this film he shares his storied history as an Iraqi-Armenian emigrant, a US army draftee, a country-western singer, and of course as a world-famous magician.

Directed and Produced by Brian Gersten


Baby Mary

Walking home from school alone, eight-year-old Kiara encounters a crying toddler, neglected by her nearby arguing parents, and impulsively takes the younger girl home. Over the course of an afternoon of make believe and fantasy, Kiara's reckless act creates a momentary maternal bond between two children in need of a mother's love.

Written and Directed by Kris Swanberg
In Association with Lucky Coffee Productions
Produced by Jacqueline "JJ" Ingram and Annie Gomberg
Starring Takiyah Dixon and Anyla Mabry



With breathless intensity and raw honesty, four pairs of dancers explore and expose the changes in intimacy through many phases of relationships. Using a physical vocabulary of everything from subtle hand gestures to intricate choreography, this dance film strings three narrative dance pieces together to tell a wordless story of love, loss, learning and hope. 

Written by Quinn Tsan
Directed by Alex Thompson
Music by Quinn Tsan
Choreographed by John Anderson and Erin Kilmurray
Produced by Quinn Tsan, Alex Thompson and Zoe Lukeck
Featuring Tia Greer, Edson Cabrera, Katie Graves, Erika Farkvarm, Charles Cutler, David Ingram, Josh Anderson, Erin Kilmurray



Irene is having a birthday, and her husband is making the cake. But as the festivities ensue and the ingredients are measured out, and her husband becomes more and more confused, Irene must decide whether to tell him that they've done this all before. There's already been a birthday celebration, there's already a cake in the fridge, he simply cannot remember it.

Written and Directed by Alex Thompson
Executive Producers Nate Lewis, Alex Thompson and Edward May
Starring Ann Whitney and Austin Pendleton


Chi-Voices: A Poetic Film Series

Part documentary film, part narrative recreation, part performance, this film blurs the lines of genre - bringing six poets directly in front of the camera to share their stories of youth violence in Chicago. As survivors and witnesses, each poet's experience resonates deeply and flows out through them in lyrical poetry and is counterpointed by gripping dramatizations of their stories.

Creator and Creative Producer, Jessica Estelle Huggins
Written for the screen by Jessica Estelle Huggins and Shiri Burson
Directed by Shiri Burson
Featuring Joy Melodic Heard, Shelyse Santiago-Opio, Gregory Madden, Brea Harris, Edye Deloch-Hughes and Frankiem Mitchell


Cool Apocalypse

Four young people on the verge of something come together for a dinner party on a warm Chicago summer evening. For two, a promising relationship is beginning to form. For the others, an expected ending is just on the horizon. As the group hovers on the brink, the heat, the drinks and the tension of unexpressed emotion threaten to derail both couples.

A Lost Tree Lane Production
Written and Directed by Michael Glover Smith
Produced by Clare Kosinski
Executive Produced by Lawrence and Sherry Kosinski, David and Janice Smith
Starring Chelsea David, Adam Overberg, Kevin Wehby, Nina Ganet


Crystal Lake

Recently transplanted out of her home, a young girl struggles to come out of hiding in a new life with her outgoing cousins. To help her assert her identity and her worth, Ladan's cousin Samiyah initiates her into a local group of young girls who have taken over a skate park, creating a girls-only safe space where she can thrive and be visible.

Written and Directed by Jennifer Reeder
Produced by Steven Hudosh and Penelope Bartlett
Starring Marcela Okeke and Shea Glover


Hacia Adelante: Moving Forward

Calling themselves "Peace Builders," six young Chicagoans from neighborhoods affected by violence travel to Nicaragua to create a cultural exchange and learn how people and communities recover from violence and manage its lasting effects. Returning to Chicago, these young people will use the strategies they've learned to promote healing and peace on their own streets.

A FreeSpirit Media production
Executive Produced by Jeff McCarter
Produced by John Mjoseth, Chad Rispalje and Jessica Olney Work


Half-Life of War

Over 30 wars and 1.5 million dead soldiers are memorialized at sites across the United States. How many of us see the trace of these past conflicts? What is the best way to remember the trauma of war? Juxtaposing peacetime footage of these monuments with the sounds and echoes of wartime, this film brings the sublimated but ever-present history of these places vividly to mind.

Directed by Kyle Henry
Edited by David Fabelo
Sound Design and Mix by Eric Friend


I'm an Actor (Yo soy Actor)

Comparing the lives of a young actor in Chicago and his counterpart in Cuba, this documentary reveals what is universal, and what is unique, about the struggle to make a living as an artist in these two, distinct worlds. With interviews and candid footage, each young man presents a glimpse into his life, and the film's direct comparisons reveal an unexpected cultural exchange.

Directed and Produced by Aaron Greer
Associate Produced by Scott Foley and Seth Panitch
Featuring Yarlo Ruiz and Troy Pryor


In the Game

In their senior year at Kelly High School, three young women lead their underdog soccer team as they navigate the ups and downs of the soccer season and face the very real obstacles that low-income students confront in their quest for higher education. On an uneven playing field - with little or no outside support, problems at home, uncertain futures, discrimination and poverty - the three must stay strong and stick together and encourage their teammates to keep moving down the field.

A Kartemquin Films Production
Directed and Produced by Maria Finitzo
Produced by Mary Morrissette
Associate Produced by Shuling Yong and Kristina Divjak Eschmeyer



This autobiographical documentary candidly reveals the challenges and changes that confront Cydia, a young African American woman as she travels away from her home in Chicago to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. As she completes her freshman year, Cydia is challenged to reexamine her thoughts, actions and sense of self.

Created and Directed by Cydia Flowers



A woodpecker and her fellow forest residents feel the full brunt of urban sprawl and deforestation as technology and infrastructure invade and infest their natural habitat. Using stop motion animation, this film beautifully transforms the forest around the creatures who live there, as they adapt to life in their new ecosystem.

Directed, Produced, Designed and Animated by Cristen Leifheit