Chicago Indie ‘Relative’ Earns Festival Wins, Box Office Success

Coming off a prestigious win at a film festival in New York and a high-profile Los Angeles premiere, a Chicago indie will continue to add more screening dates at fests and commercial theaters in the coming months. Michael Glover Smith’s fourth feature film, the acclaimed Rogers Park-set dramedy Relative, has just won the Best Narrative Feature award at the Buffalo International Film Festival, where it screened virtually in October. During that time, Relative also had its West Coast Premiere at the American Cinematheque in L.A. Representing the film in person for two Los Angeles screenings on October 14 and 15 were writer/director Smith (Mercury in Retrograde), actor Cameron Scott Roberts (The Walking Dead), actress/producer Clare Cooney (Pick Up), and cinematographer Olivia Aquilina (Rough River Lake).

Director Smith, DP Olivia Aquilina, actor Clare Cooney, actor Cameron Scott Roberts at the LA Premiere.

This is the fourth festival award Relative has won following the Best Performance honor bestowed upon Roberts at the movie’s Gasparilla International Film Festival premiere in Tampa, Florida in March, the Best Ensemble award given to the entire cast at Festival of Cinema NYC in Queens in July, and the Best Narrative Feature award at the Full Bloom Film Festival in Statesville, North Carolina in September. Relative will have the chance to add to this total on November 3 at the Midwest Film Festival’s “Best of the Midwest” awards ceremony where Steppenwolf Ensemble member Francis Guinan is in the running for Best Actor for his performance as patriarch David Frank.

In an exclusive chat with SCREEN, Smith said, “The Buffalo International Film Festival is a phenomenal fest known for its strong programming of indie features. To win an award there is quite an honor. It helps to bring more awareness to our film and allows us to continue to build buzz. We also had a fantastic turnout at our American Cinematheque screenings in L.A. So now, my distribution partners at Chicago Film Project and I are discussing keeping Relative in theaters through at least late spring of 2023, longer than we had originally anticipated, simply because it seems like the demand for it is there. We want this movie to be seen as widely as possible in U.S. theaters before we even think about making it available to stream.”

The Successful Theatrical Run Forges Ahead

Big win for Relative and Director Michael Glover Smith’s team at Buffalo Intl FF

Strong ticket sales for the American Cinematheque shows have brought the film’s box office total to over $18,000, according to Box Office Mojo. This is an impressive haul for a microbudget feature, especially considering the only other commercial screenings to date have taken place in Chicago, Milwaukee and Indianapolis. And the film shows no signs of slowing down: Relative‘s upcoming theatrical screenings include a special screening at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland, Oregon on November 29. Chicago-area audiences will have more chances to see itwhen it plays twice at the Lake County Film Festival in Grayslake on November 12 and 13, followed by Q&As with Smith and actress/Executive Producer Sandy Gulliver. The film will also play at the screening room in Joe Swanberg’s Analog Video shop in Ravenswood on Saturday, November 26. That screening will be followed by a Q&A with Smith and actress Emily Lape (Mercy’s Girl).

If you’re hearing about Relative for the first time today, here is your first look at the Chicago-made indie:

For the most up-to-date screening info, visit the film’s official website: www.relativemovie.com

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