Publish Date
Chicago Onscreen film festival runs August 30-September 1 at Ping Tom Park
Chicago Onscreen film festival runs August 30-September 1 at Ping Tom Park.
Photo: Chicago Park District

Festival runs August 30-September 1 at Ping Tom Park


The Chicago Park District’s Chicago Onscreen Local Film Showcase will celebrate its fifth year of bringing local films to local parks with eight screenings in neighborhood parks and a three-day multi-screen outdoor film festival. This year’s fifteen Official Selections explore the unseen Chicago, the unknown backstories and unexpected histories of local legends and the familiar unfamiliar stories of everyday citizens throughout the city. The free outdoor local film festival will kick off at Ping Tom Park, 1700 S. Wentworth Ave., on Aug. 30 and run through Sept. 1. All movies begin at dusk. 


This year’s lineup is a celebration of filmmakers as story tellers, community builders and culture makers. The participating Chicago Onscreen filmmakers represent some of the most extraordinary emerging and established filmmaking talent in the city and they bring fresh voices and excitingly individual perspectives to these films. The plots range from refracting Shakespeare through a modern prism to defying expectations and stereotypes of disability. Each of these films brings you a new take, and a breath of fresh air.


Curated from more than 135 submissions, this year’s lineup of fourteen Official Selections includes feature films and short films, documentaries and narratives, literary adaptations and dance films. Filmmakers from all over Chicago will be featured in a series of park screenings across the city. The showcase will return to previous screening locations at Ellis Park, Ping Tom Memorial Park, Wicker Park and Loyola Park and screen at new locations including West Pullman Park, Ogden Park, Nichols Park, Independence Park and Clarendon Park.


In addition to the eight neighborhood park screenings, the Chicago Onscreen Local Film Showcase will expand this year to include dozens of other Chicago-connected films curated by film organizations around the city at an outdoor festival celebration of all things Chicago film. This first-of-its-kind effort for the Chicago Park District will feature Chicago Onscreen’s fifteen 2018 Official Selections as well as additional film and television content curated by Black Cinema House, Chicago Feminist Film Fest, The DePaul Experimental Film Showcase, Free Spirit Media, The Gene Siskel Film Center and OpenTV over three days in a multiscreen festival atmosphere.


Chicago Onscreen is a part of the Chicago Park District’s 18th season of Movies in the Parks and the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks initiative. Supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the year-round event series features more than 1,200 citywide cultural and arts activities, including 200 movie screenings this summer. Movies in the Parks is presented by Bank of America.



2018 Film Highlights/Trailers

  • Brooks People explores the life, legacy and enduring cultural impact of Chicago literary treasure Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize.
  • Charming Strangers follows a Chinese student in Chicago as he overcomes language barriers with photography and engages with a classroom full of children with diverse immigrant backgrounds to help them tell their stories through photos.
  • Continuing Ed. Documents an ongoing series of free public programs that put parents and schools back at the center of conversations about public education.
  • The Exchange is a documentary film following five Black male high school students from Chicago’s south side traveling with a program called Passport Carriers to Kassel, Germany, and the art exhibition dOCUMENTA13.
  • I Can Only Be Mary Lane tells the story of one of the last female Chicago blues singers to come to Chicago through the Great Migration as she, at age 82, is still pursuing the production and release of her own album.
  • King, Hereafter is a short adaptation of a section of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth set in a contemporary restaurant.
  • Moah’s Ark is a semi-observational documentary following Mo Cahill through her backyard garden, to the butcher shop and to the kitchen as she connects with her chosen family to prepare and share a meal.
  • Parts & Labor explores a mom-and-pop hardware store in a Chicago neighborhood where a Honduran-American skateboarder, a Puerto Rican mother, an Irish-American teenager and a Russian-American store owner find a way to work together in a divided world.
  • Red Line Lounge show us Dave Russel, drummer and de facto leader of the Red Line Lounge Band, gathered each day on the Jackson Red Line train platform to perform for Chicago commuters and travelers.
  • Rogers Park intertwines the stories of four lives under pressure and in crisis in Chicago’s most diverse neighborhood as they navigate midlife pressures, parenthood, financial reversals and depression.
  • Runner follows Becca after she witnesses a violent crime on her daily job and flees for her safety, while wrestling with her own devastation, fear and guilt in the wake of what she’s seen.
  • The Spy Who Knew Me, starring a cast of young adult actors with Down syndrome, riffs on the spy adventure genre with the story of super spy Tabitha Link and the all-female agency U.N.I.T.E. as they race defeat the evil organization E.C.H.O.
  • The Wayward Wind uses movement and humor to turn the classic “rambling man” story on its head, featuring a song by Carl Sondrol.
  • Uninsurable: Erin Potter’s Story is a short documentary that examines the healthcare struggles of everyday Americans through intimate portraits of individuals trying to get the care they need to survive.


Visit for more information and a complete schedule of screenings.


Click here for the full Movies in the Parks 2018 schedule.  Admission is free, and all movies begin at dusk, weather permitting.  Patrons can call the Movies in the Parks hotline for daily listings and updated weather-related cancellations at 312-742-1134.


Information is also available on the Chicago Park District: Movies in the Parks Facebook page.