Films for Thought: 2010 Talking Pictures Festival in Evanston

There’s lots of competition for your weekend time, but May 6-9, the 2010 Talking Pictures Festival should stop your clock.

Last year’s inaugural film festival in Evanston drew an audience of 1,100 people to see featured independents, documentaries, Midwest premieres and more.

This year, with three times the number of submissions, additional venues and an expanded schedule, the festival promises two thumbs way up.

The four-day affair features 18 full-length and 5 short programs, with films from around the globe and filmmakers from around the corner. Whether you’re a dedicated cinephile, or simply a rainy-weather movie fan, the eclectic mix of films and genres offers something just for you.

Did you catch the Oscars but missed seeing the nominated and winning animated and dramatic shorts? Talking Pictures has got you covered with “Logorama,” “French Roast,” “The New Tenants” and “Instead of Abracadabra,” to name a few.

Alternately, there are significant under-the-radar flicks to keep you on the sharp side of the cutting edge. Making its regional premiere is “Whiz Kids,” (pictured at right) a documentary focused on three teens’ competitive efforts in the nation’s oldest, most prestigious science competition. The film focuses on individual struggles against circumstances, while raising questions about class, courage, and personal sacrifice.

When plotting your festival plans, watch for special post-screening talks with producers, directors, filmmakers and community organizations.

“One of the most exciting aspects of Talking Pictures is the distinctive partnerships we have forged with local community organizations,” notes Festival Co-director and Filmmaker Kathy Berger. “Not only will the audience members deepen their understanding about particular issues, they will learn more about what their local institutions are doing and how resources are being allocated. It’s a fabulous opportunity to grow as individuals and as a community.”

I’m looking forward to my kids attending “No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson.” My young athletes can learn about a famous sports figure in a controversial situation that predates their birth, and then stay for a discussion on race issues that are, unfortunately, still relevant. The program is co-presented with the YWCA Evanston/Northshore, and the discussion will feature Kartemquin Films’ Steve James of “Hoop Dreams” fame.

So check out the website now and start plotting which screenings to attend May 6-9.

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