June 22, 2014 by Katie Prentiss
BACK ON TRACK: In September of 2012, as a part of the Art on Track festival, Chicago arts non profit noisivelvet transformed a CTA train car into a theater and a movie set for performers from the Waltzing Mechanics to perform “EL Stories,” a production written from real-life stories compiled from people who take the train. Meanwhile, videographers from The Cinema Culture documented the show and the passengers watching. The performers presented the show for 5 hours on loop on a blue line train.
Now, noisivelvet has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for the costs of finishing the film, “EL STORIES: ART ON TRACK,” and screening it around town.
“It’s definitely a documentary of the collaboration of these multiple art groups coming together to perform in this space,” said Joseph Baldwin of noisivelvet.
EL Stories, a long-running and always changing play, is performed every Saturday night at the Green House. The performers interview people to get fresh source material, some of it funny, some serious.
Baldwin said that he hopes the audience of the documentary will find it entertaining and thought provoking. He hopes they will also take away the spirit of collaboration that exists across art groups in Chicago.
For more information about the indiegogo, which ends on July 3, and to support this film, click here.
SUMMER AT THE DRIVE-IN: From Chicago native April Wright comes a documentary about a classic American tradition. GOING ATTRACTIONS: THE DEFINITIVE STORY OF THE AMERICAN DRIVE-IN MOVIE tells the story of drive-in movies at their peak, and how the landscape has changed in the past several years. Several drive-ins have converted to digital, but many more closed down or were bought, unable to keep up with the digital changes. Wright directed, wrote and produced the movie. She visited more than 500 drive-ins across America, and more than 90 of those were in the Midwest.
“For Midwest especially, it’s another ritual of summer,” she said. “When I was growing up there, there were certain things we would do. Strawberry picking, ice cream stands would open, and the drive ins would open. It’s just one of those things that went along with summer.”
June 6th marked the 86th anniversary of the drive-in. The first one opened in New Jersey in 1933.
The film, which was made over the course of seven years, has been released in several drive-in theaters, and now has online distribution on iTunes and Vudu. Wright produced the film completely independently, and made it into the top ⅔ of all box office showings in 2013.
Wright said the film is artistically very fast paced and visual. Though it is about a part of American history, she didn’t want it to feel like an educational documentary. She also said that there was a lot of social subtext in the film. Many drive-ins were replaced with big box retailers. She said she hopes the audience takes away the message that drive-ins were a community space and a family destination, and a return to values-based spaces, like drive-ins, might be best for America.
Katie Prentiss is a journalist and documentary filmmaker in Chicago working with Kartemquin Films as the Associate Producer of Mormon Movie (Working Title). Follow Katie at @prentkat