Your First Look at Six Illinois Indie Features for 2017

Your First Look at Six Illinois Indie Features for 2017

As we peek ahead to 2017, there are six Illinois features in the works that deserve a spot on your radar. Let's take a look...

IFP Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival are offering six projects a rare opportunity at THE PITCH, part at the festival's "Industry Days." The six projects will pitch a jury of distinguished film professionals (see the full roster below) and the winning pitch will receive an award of in-kind services worth tens of thousands of dollars (full details also below). From a “period piece” set in a community radio station in Kalamazoo to a supernatural dramatic comedy set in the Hispanic community, this year’s six projects are a diverse and eclectic collection of independent feature films in development. THE PITCH at Industry Days will take place from 2pm-6pm on Sunday, October 23 at Gallery at GreenRiver (259 E. Erie St, 18th Floor).

The six Illinois indie features in the works are:


On Elaine's 55th birthday, she realizes that she is becoming invisible to her husband, her family and her town. So she decides to be seen in a radical way: she takes her clothes off, and doesn’t put them on again. Director: Aemilia Scott; Producer: Holli McGinley

About the director: Birthday Suit is Aemilia’s first screenplay. In September, the project was selected for IFP Film Week. Her first short, Best if Used By, won a BAFTA LA Award at Aspen, as well as honorary mentions from REGARD Quebec Film Fest and USA Dallas Film Fest. Aemilia’s second short, For a Good Time, premiered this year at Aspen.


Rallis and Debbie’s marriage has reached its expiration date. In fact, it’s soured and stuck to the bottom of the carton. She wants him to pack his stuff and hit the bricks, but he’s clingin’ to the past like a cat on a screen door. How far will a man go to hang on to his lady fair? It’s a thin line between love and hate. A kiss and a punch. An ice cream cone and a beer bottle to the back of the head. Director: Mark Roberts. Producer: Brett Hays, Jen Shelby, Luke Boyce

About the director: As a comedian, Mark Roberts appeared several times on The Tonight Show, as well as comedy specials on Fox, HBO, and Showtime. As an actor, Mark was seen on such shows as Seinfeld, Friends and The Practice. As a writer, he has penned the stage plays Welcome to Tolono, Couples Counseling Killed Katie and Where the Great Ones Run. He also spent seven years as head writer and executive producer on Two and a Half Men, three as an executive consultant on The Big Bang Theory and three as creator-showrunner and occasional director on Mike and Molly.


It's a hot summer and people from the hood are disappearing. Can Jimmy de las Rosas turn up the heat on his mutant abilities to find them? Co-directors: Ricardo Gamboa and Reshmi Hazra Rustebakke. Producer: Ben Kolak

About the directors: Ricardo Gamboa is an award-winning artist and activist working in his native Chicago and NYC. His first film The Southside Has Many Beauty Queens won "Best Short" at the Chicago Latino Film Festival. Reshmi Hazra Rustebakke has worked at many different theaters such as Playwrights Horizons and New York Theatre Workshop, in New York, and Chicago Shakespeare, TimeLine, and Victory Gardens in Chicago, both as director and assistant director.


Offbeat Internet radio host, Gio LaRocca has mastered living his life with his glass half full - artistically fulfilled, but financially strapped. Shocking news causes Gio to find himself stripped of his identity and forced to finally define himself amidst all the Static. A feature film created in tandem with a music web series. Director: Rocco Cataldo. Producers: Rocco Cataldo, Michael Kwielford, Mary Kay Cook

About the director: Rocco is a principal at Potenza Productions, where he directs content for a variety of clients. His short Wednesday’s Child had a successful festival run, including Austin Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival and D.C. Shorts.


In 2011, forty-two immigrants were trapped inside a suffocating box truck for hours during the peak of the Texas summer. One of those who made it out alive tells her harrowing story. Director: John Rangel. Producer: Margaret Byrne.

About the director: John’s first feature-length movie, south loop, was an Official Selection of the Seattle True Independent Film Festival (’11). His second, The Girls on Liberty Street, premiered in the New Directors Competition of the 2013 Chicago International Film Festival and was named “Ten Best Films of 2013” (Senses of Cinema). His most recent feature, Remember Our Days, is currently in post-production.


It’s Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1978. Desperate to save his college radio station from losing its license, station manager Wade Russell and his Midwestern posse of punk rock pals hatch an unlikely scheme to bring the British punk band, The Clash, to play at a fundraising concert. Director: Bob Hercules. Producers: Bob Hercules, Jeff Rogers, Lisa Pooler.

About the director: Bob Hercules is an independent filmmaker whose new film, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, won the Audience Award at AFI-Docs Festival and Best Feature film at the Black Harvest Film Festival. It airs on PBS’ American Masters February, 2017. His 2011 film, Bill T. Jones: A Good Man, played at many festivals including Full Frame, IDFA, DOXA, and the Southern Circuit.

Meet the Jury

This year’s jury at THE PITCH is comprised of a distinguished group of veteran film professionals: Molly O’Keefe, Director of Scripted Programs at Tribeca Film Institute; Forager Films’ Eddie Linker; Aijah Keith, Acquisitions Manager of IFC Films and Sundance Selects; and Rebecca Green, producer of the hit films It Follows and I’ll See You In My Dreams.

The winning pitch will receive an award of in-kind services worth tens of thousands of dollars, including a camera package from Keslow Camera, editing services from Periscope Post & Audio, equipment discounts from AbelCine, free production space on Stage 18’s soundstages at Cinespace, participation and a travel stipend to attend the Tribeca Film Institute Network market days at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2017, and free consultations with AbelCine, the Chicago Media Angels and IFP Chicago and more.

Check out the full schedule for "Industry Days" and register to attend here.

Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at