Doc Chicago Is Here This Saturday; SCREEN Chats with Founder Ines Sommer

Doc Chicago is here, and we have the founder with us today to tell you why you should be heading to the Chicago Cultural Center this Saturday.

The schedule for this year’s DOC CHICAGO – the free mini-conference for and by Midwest documentary filmmakers – is set and offers an impressive lineup. DOC CHICAGO will take place at the Chicago Cultural Center on Saturday, November 5, noon-4:30pm. The event is free to attend, but RSVP required.

Click here to RSVP.

Doc Chicago Founder Ines Sommer stopped by SCREEN to let you know exactly why this festival should be a part of your plans for this Saturday. “Attending Doc Chicago is a great way for documentary filmmakers to get exposed to current issues and trends in our field, to get inspired, and to learn from some of the leading filmmakers in Chicago, who are so generously donating their time to be part of this event,” Sommer shared with SCREEN. “Working on an indie documentary can sometimes feel like a very lonely undertaking which requires so much tenacity – Doc Chicago really embraces building connections among filmmakers to counter that isolation. Some of us have even found new collaborators or gigs by making new connections at Doc Chicago!”

Director/Producer and Doc Chicago founder Ines Sommer at work with Producer Terra Brockman (photo credit Alex Sing)

When asked what inspired her to start Doc Chicago, Ines declared, “The topic of career sustainability for Midwest documentary filmmakers has been front and center for many years now. Moving to the coasts is often seen as the best solution to make a go of it in this field of independent documentary. Although I can’t change the overall financial picture or necessarily create new funding opportunities here, I wondered how can we emphasize the fact that we have so much filmmaking talent, skill, and generosity in this region?”

“Why not highlight that and bring filmmakers together in the spirit of mutual aid?,” Sommer concluded in her interview with SCREEN. “So the desire to strengthen our documentary community and build new connections was really what initially prompted me to found Doc Chicago in 2019.”

The Slate for This Saturday

DOC CHICAGO is an annual gathering where the regional documentary community can connect, learn, and share ideas. This year’s DOC CHICAGO will feature several panels plus “conversation circles,” where attendees can talk directly to leading local documentary filmmakers in a casual small group setting. 

Presenters include a range of creative practitioners from editors Leslie Simmer (Director of Editing, Kartemquin Films) and Rubin Daniels Jr. (UnapologeticPhilly D.A.) to producers like Will Miller (The Territory) and Nicole Bernardi-Reis (Algren, Radical Grace) and filmmakers Jiayan “Jenny” Shi (Finding Yingying) and Donald Conley (Matriarch), plus Zayd Ayers Dohrn, whose outstanding documentary podcast Mother Country Radicals won the Audio Storytelling category at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. Presenters bios available here

Capping off the day is a DOC CHICAGO Short Film Showcase at the Gene Siskel Film Center which presents a thought-provoking, diverse collection of Chicago-produced short documentaries by Donald Conley, Lori Felker, Tom Krawczyk, Dinesh Sabu, and Erika Valenciana. Separate admission applies.  

DOC CHICAGO is a program of Percolator Films, a 501c3 non-profit media arts organization, and is presented with support from the Chicago Film Office/Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs (DCASE) and from Northwestern University’s MFA in Documentary Media Program.

Be sure to check back here at SCREEN Magazine for the latest from the Chicago and Midwest filmmaking community. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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