Loading Doc: Tattoos, A Recluse and Sexual Revolution

Loading Doc: Tattoos, A Recluse and Sexual Revolution

I have seen three works-in-progress this summer that embody Chicago’s well deserved reputation for outstanding non-fiction filmmaking. All three call attention to distinct points of view, high production values and unheard-of stories about women.

Rachel Pikelny is close to completing her documentary short titled GRACE, about a survivor of breast cancer and her tattoo artist. Pikelny, Director of Production at Siskel/Jacobs Productions, is a survivor. After her personal journey through diagnosis, treatment and recovery, she read an article about a tattoo artist whose new clientele included more than 80 survivors. By going to meet the tattoo artist, Pikelny learned about the women on his waiting list and one suburban mom named Grace. The trailer introduces the unlikely characters and reveals how their paths converge through art and fate. The Siskel/Jacobs website invites donations in connection with fiscal sponsor, Women Make Movies, by clicking here.

Pikelny pitched her project successfully at the first Doc10 pitching event this spring. The LOADING DOC column will have information about the premiere, most likely in October. Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel serve as Executive Producers.

Loyola University film professor, Elizabeth Coffman, earned her PhD in English. She has begun feedback screenings for her feature-length rough cut, FLANNERY O’CONNOR, the first film about the influential and reclusive southern author. The National Endowment for the Humanities selected this multi-year project for a production grant. Co-directing with the leading Flannery O’Connor scholar, Mark Bosco, Coffman uncovered a treasure trove of archival interviews, images, publicity and personal letters. To reveal shaping forces in the life of her subject and to bring to life passages from the pages of fiction, Coffman weaves in animations by Kathleen Judge, Natalie Barahona and Heidi Kumao. Joe Winston is editing. Miriam Cutler is creating an original music score. Bob Hercules serves as Executive Producer. Go to flanneryoconnorfilm.com for more

Maria Finitzo, a two-time Peabody award-winning social issue filmmaker and Kartemquin Associate, has produced a 31 minute demo to raise production funds for THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE. A powerful expose with multiple stories, the film-in-progress explores why despite real gains that came with the 60s revolution, women still pay a price for wanting what men want – agency over their sexual desire and the freedom to act upon that desire. For the feature-length production, Finitzo weaves character-driven stories about female sexuality, gender fluidity, repression and resistance. One story follows a Berlin-based female porn maker as she tries new approaches to a genre dominated by male fantasies. Another story features NY artist Sophia Wallace, creator of the Cliteracy project. Clips from womens’ protest marches, popular movies, websites, advertising and standup comedy illuminate the controversial theme and show “the dilemma of desire” influencing men and women. Diane Quon and Cynthia Kane are on board as producers. Liz Kaar is editing. Click here for more about this production.

If you want to meet non-fiction filmmakers and learn about more new works come to THE DOC TALK SHOW, presented by Groundswell Films. It’s a free monthly showcase that I started in December at Uncommon Ground – Lakeview. Each showcase presents a variety of filmmakers. Filmmakers get a timeslot of 10 – 15 minutes to present their documentary short, or trailer or excerpt and hold direct conversation with the audience. Local food, craft beer and networking are all part of the fun. It’s thrilling to watch the screen, the convos and the mingling that happens when new relationships unfold in a room. Audiences want face to face encounters with filmmakers. The next edition of THE DOC TALK SHOW will be September 28th 7pm – 9pm at Uncommon Ground, 3800 N. Clark. Here’s a teaser.

If you would like to submit your documentary short film, trailer or excerpt please email me at jeff@groundswellfilms.org. and click here to reserve your seat for September 28th.

JEFF SPITZ is a Chicago-based Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Sundance Film Festival honoree and Associate Professor at Columbia College Chicago. Jeff curates and hosts THE DOC TALK SHOW – a monthly non-fiction showcase with filmmakers, food and drink presented by Groundswell Films.