Your First Look at Five Illinois Indie Features for 2018

Your First Look at Five Illinois Indie Features for 2018

As we peek ahead to 2018, there are five 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 five projects a rare opportunity at THE PITCH, part at the festival's "Industry Days." The five 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). “The five chosen projects represent an ambitious slate that include a graphic novel sci-fi thriller, First Nation’s gothic coming of age story, genre-defying queer history and a millennial bi-polar family comedy,” said IFP Chicago Executive Director Nicole Bernardi-Reis. “The Pitch” at Industry Days will take place from 2pm-5:30pm on Sunday, October 22 at Embassy Suites, Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile (511 N Columbus Dr, Chicago).

The five Illinois indie features in the works are:


In a small town in Ecuador, teenager Diana escapes from an institution for troubled girls with her toddler. The goal: to pick up her younger sister from their abusive childhood home and start a new life. But along the way, Diana ends up down and out and must figure out how to survive with her young son, whom she’s not even sure she wants. GIRL WITH CHILD was selected for the 2016 Film Independent Screenwriting Lab and Producing Lab, and was awarded a Fulbright Grant to research and write the script. Director: Maria Abraham. Producer: Luz Agudelo Gipson.


ONCE UPON A RIVER is an American odyssey with the perfect cocktail of action, adventure, and heart. A midwestern gothic from the perspective of Margo, a girl who is struggling to figure out life, it is at once harrowing and dark, but also inspirational as we witness Margo’s strength when faced with difficult challenges in her quest for freedom. Writer/director Haroula Rose’s screenplay for ONCE UPON A RIVER was part of Nantucket Screenwriter’s Colony and a finalist for Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. Director: Haroula Rose. Producers: David Macias, Julian West, Heather Rae, Jacqueline “JJ” Ingram.


RAINBOW FARM is the story of two queer visionaries who built a counterculture community in rural Michigan, only to see it brought to a violent end by the FBI during an armed standoff just one week before 9/11. Through a hybrid approach that conjugates rich archive with narrative depiction, this film interrogates the parameters of “American freedom” through the fate of Tom and Rollie, two hippie libertarian life partners who decided to burn down their utopia rather than hand it to the government. Sniadecki's latest feature, EL MAR LA MAR, premiered at Berlin where it won the Caligari Award and is at the Chicago International Film Festival. Director: J.P. Sniadecki. Producers: Sara Archambault, Shane Boris.


For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead come back to life. Now it’s up to Officer Dana Cypress to find the murderer of her undead sister and maintain order in a town separated by ideological differences. Luke Boyce is one of the co-founders of Shatterglass Studios, and won a regional Emmy for his documentary showcasing the 14th Annual Ebertfest. Director: Luke Boyce. Producer: Brett Hays.


Clemence goes clinically nuts and drops out of college. She heads to her suburban hometown to be treated for Bipolar Disorder. Through YouTube yoga, high school parties, and a tumor that threatens the person she needs most, Clemence learns that “healing” means growing the hell up. A comedy about the year between an earth-shattering diagnosis and an earth-shattering comeback. Heller's film HANDJOB won Best Comedy at Chicago International Film Festival’s CineYouth Festival. Director: Alex Heller. Producers: Julia Rose Duray, Eugene Sun Park.

Meet the Jury

This year’s jury at THE PITCH is comprised of a distinguished group of veteran film professionals: Tom Quinn, founder and CEO of Neon; Amy Hobby, Vice President of Artist Programs, Tribeca Film Institute; and Aijah Keith, Acquisitions Manager of IFC Films and Sundance Selects.

This year’s winning pitch will receive an award of in-kind services worth tens of thousands of dollars, including a camera package from Keslow Camera, 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 20178 and free consultations with AbelCine, the Chicago Media Angels and IFP Chicago and more.

THE PITCH is open to an audience who can watch and learn about what makes a good pitch and what professionals are looking for from independent filmmakers. Accredited Film Festival, Press and Industry Days badge holders can attend. Check out the full schedule for "Industry Days" and register to attend here.

Chicago International Film Festival Programmer Anthony Kaufman said, “The Film Festival has always been dedicated to discovering and fostering new talent, so I think THE PITCH is a perfect way to continue that tradition in a tangible and supportive way. Together, we can make better films in Chicago.”

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