Six years old, the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival returns next week, May 1-4, at a long string of venues clustered mostly along Milwaukee Avenue in the Wicker Park, Logan Square and Bucktown neighborhoods, where you can't throw an empty bottle of Schlitz without clocking a hipster or a hipster's parents.
The first four years of CIMM stayed "steady," says co-executive director Lucia Palmarini, who started in 2012 as CIMM festival manager. Then, in a single year, the programming doubled, and the live-music component suddenly caught up with the film offerings.
Last year, CIMM's South by Southwest-style industry panels flowered, sprouting from a simple idea, according to Palmarini. Various directors, producers, musicians and entrepreneurs were coming in for CIMM anyway. Why not "get 'em in a room together, a few at a time, and hear what they have to say?"
Under Josh Chicoine's artistic direction, the amoeba that is CIMM is co-run by Palmarini and Dave Moore on a budget of $200,000.
"I believe I'm the only person to buy a pass to every festival," Moore says. By now, he says, "we've started to figure out what we're really good at, and pairing the right films with the right musicians is one of them."
The live-scoring offerings this year include Chicago-born and LA-based band Califone, "who we've been trying to get for years," says Moore. On Thursday, Califone will provide the live score to the dreamy Sundance jury prize winner "Water and Power." Location: The 1st Ward event space on North Avenue.
At the Logan Theatre that same night, "Boyce & Hart: The Guys Who Wrote 'Em" makes its world premiere with director Rachel Lichtman and singer/songwriter Bobby Hart doing a Q&A. It's a fond, entertaining documentary narrated by Hart and crammed with choice home movie footage and archival musical numbers that bring the 1960s back in a trippy blur of nostalgia.
The movie isn't hard-hitting, but it's fun, and it delivers some cautiously juicy gossip regarding the creation of The Monkees and all the good and great tunes Boyce and Hart wrote for them, and on their own as a duo.
CIMM's Palmarini says her favorite "get" this year is music documentary chronicler Vincent Moon, serving on the doc jury and presenting some of his newest globe-trotting work Thursday and May 3, also at the Logan Theatre.
Aspirational comparisons to Austin's world-famous and well-established South by Southwest music and film festivals (separate festivals there) have been made to CIMM for a while now.
"We don't have that single strip of activity that Austin has," Palmarini acknowledges. "But we do have one hell of an ecosystem of both movies and music. And the convergence fascinates us."
The schedule truly is impressive and wide-ranging this year. Seventy films, 50-odd bands, four very full days and nights. It's "an ever-challenging project," says Palmarini, "a continuous canvas with a lot of street action."
Go to cimmfest.org for a complete rundown, festival passes and tickets to individual events.
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