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CIMMfest films Review- Capsule summaries from a festival of movies and music

By Debra Davy

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The 8th annual Chicago International Movie and Music Festival, CIMMfest,  led by artistic director Josh Chicoine and  executive director Dave Moore took place April 13-17th at 20+ venues throughout the city, showcasing 99+ bands and showing 99+films. This extravaganza of movies and music drew local and international moviegoers, music-lovers, tech experts, artists, partiers and moviemakers. It also featured the 4th annual CIMMcon, a music, film and tech industry conference, 2 days of 50+ panels, presentations and workshops, in partnership with creative incubators 2112 and Stage 18. The well-attended festival further held a student film competition, closing night awards and variety show and of course, the yearly presentation of the BAADASSSS award, which went to Kartemquin films and Chicago’s own Gordon Quinn. This reviewer was able to take in a handful of films, summarized briefly below:

CIMMfest logo

The fun began with the opening night presentation of the documentary “The Smart Studio Story”, a 2016 documentary film directed and co-produced by Wendy Schneider. The self-absorbed and perhaps forgivably shamelessly self-promoting film is a montage of interviews and spliced cuts of archival footage, animation and insider anecdotes chronicling the story of the well-known Madison, Wisconsin recording studio founded in 1983 by Steve Marker and Butch Vig  both of whom are featured heavily in the movie. The audience is taken on a ride through one of the roots of independent music in America. It includes some highly interesting look-back commentary by Smashing Pumpkins member Billy Corgan, a hint of the tale of Nirvana, and a lot of the story of the development of Garbage. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t really make the jump from home movies to really telling the story of how this remarkable studio grew, expanded and ultimately was closed. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun, and the panel discussion afterwards with Schneider and Vig,, similar in tone to the film itself, was enjoyed by the audience, many of whom repaired to Metro later for music and drinks.

Smart Studios, circa 1983

“We Are Kings,” 2014, written and directed by Toby Hubner, is a blues and rock fable, the story of a group of down and out musicians who break through with the help of a friendly ghost. Shot on location in the South, the music is a nice meld of landscape and  heart-warming storyline. It’s charming, funny and exuberant, a romp down the Mississippi in a Winnebago with Blues legend Sammy Blue and also stars singer Rita Graham, guitarist Boogie Long and the rapper Pryce. The performers' love for music shines through and the soundtrack is just terrific, catchy and vibrant.

Lynn Orman Weiss, Producer/Director of "Six Generations of the Blues", WNUR Blues DJ Steve Hausheer, Grammy-Award winning songwriter Terry Abrahamsson, and stars of "We are Kings", Rita Graham and Sammy Blue; photo courtesy of Steven I. Wolf

“It’s a Rockabilly World”, 2015, directed by and written by Brent Huff, is a documentary about a subculture of music, a genre within a genre that is a “global sensation” with a sizable following in the United States, Japan, South Africa, Europe and South America- but the main venue is undeniably Las Vegas. The followers live in a self- created substrata of society, a throwback to the 1950’s. The participants are not content to wear t-shirts and collect fan magazines- they want to be up-front, out there and noticed.  From vintage clothing to hot-rods, from pin-up girls to tattoos, they strut their stuff as they celebrate the music. The film takes you behind the scenes to interview the members who claim that their participation has changed their lives, has opened them up and been more than just a means of self-expression.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble; photo courtesy of James Murray

 CIMMfest is dedicated to bringing  together students, artists, audiences and industry leaders from diverse cultures around the world together “in order to reveal the transformative power of music to foster creativity, communication, to educate, enlighten and entertain”.

To learn more about how you can participate, go to  www.cimmfest.org



Published on Apr 26, 2016

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