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Nothing Can Keep Strongman Out Of Chicago

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on May 12, 2011 9:00PM

2011_05_strongman2.jpg Zach Levy made an acclaimed documentary about a man who leg-presses 10,000 pound dump trucks and can drive nails through boards with his bare hands, a man seemingly too strong for any obstacle. But when it came time to bring his work to Chicago in February, he ran into something nobody was able to overcome: the Chicago Blizzard of 2011.

Levy first earned our attention in 2004 when his set of Bush administration playing cards struck an antiwar chord many wanted to hear. That D.I.Y. enterprise ended up funding Strong Man, the Slamdance-winning documentary about professional strongman whom Levy encountered while shooting freelance for an stunt show, standing between two Cessna airplanes with a rope tied to each as he held them back from taking off. And though mother nature kept Levy's plane from taking off for Chicago in Febuary, the unusued ticket has now brought him here to mark the film's run through Sunday at Facets. Tonight and tomorrow night, Levy will be in attendance for the 7 p.m. screenings and hold a Q and A session afterwards.

The story of the strongman who is the subject of the movie, Stanless Steel, is more than the story of a carnival act. By filming for hundreds of hours over nine and a half years, off and on, and adopting a neutral posture Levy seeks a portrait of a something all-to-human underneath the superhuman's muscles. Levy describes it as "La Strada meets Grey Gardens, and that's good enough for us.

Strongman screens with director Zach Levy in attendance tonight and tomorrow night, May 12 and 13, at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, 7 p.m.