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Weekend Film Picks: Screenings with Discussions

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 25, 2011 8:20PM

Whatever the convenience of watching a DVD, or even on Youtube, you still have to go to a theater if you want a chance to interact with the people who made the films you love. Chicagoist is happy we live in a city with a cinematic infrastructure yet intact enough to provide many opportunities to engage with the creators we admire, and with people who know more than we do about them, on a regular basis. We've selected four recommendations over the weekend to get out and watch a film with the opportunity to talk about it afterwards.

Thursday: One Lucky Elephant at Facets Cinematheque. The fraught relationship between animals and humans is prodded lovingly by Lisa Leeman's documentary about a circus producer and his prize performer, an elephant named Flora. The pachyderm's intelligence, longevity and loyalty, together with her custodian's frustrating but deeply sincere love for the animal, inject into this story of the elephant's transition from performing into retirement a thoughtful and touching ambiguity. Producer Jordana Glick-Franzheim be present for a Q&A after the 7 p.m. screening tonight, as well as after screenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Friday: Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness at the Music Box.
The musical Fiddler on the Roof planted Sholem Aleichem's "Tevye the Milkman" stories firmly into the popular consciousness, but if the name Zero Mostel springs to mind faster than the creator of the source material it is instructive to look a bit closer at the life of a man whose 200,000 funeral attendees were the most in the history of New York City. Aleichem's work is hysterical and absolutely essential. Director Joseph Dorman will be present for a Q&A following the 7:20 p.m. screening on Friday and the 5 p.m. screening on Saturday.

Saturday: The Upsetter at the Siskel Film Center. Bob Marley may be the most ubiquitous icon of Reggae, but nobody was more important to that form than Lee "Scratch" Perry. As a central figure in the elaboration of a musical language that has entered the DNA of every genre of popular music in the past 40 years, Lee Perry's influence is something every thinking music fan should come to terms with. Peter Margasak and Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery owner John Corbett, who is directing his own documentary about Perry, lead an audience discussion after the 8 pm screening.

Sunday: Preacher, also at the Siskel Film Center. The fourth installment of
Local filmmaker Daniel Kraus's Work Series offers an unadorned, unwavering portrait of a Virginia Pentecostal preacher. The figure of the preacher provides, in a sense, an amalgam of the earlier three films' roles, as any pastor must be part Sheriff, part Professor, and--in a milieu as gospel-drenched as this one--a Musician. Kraus will be in attendance to discuss the film after the 3pm Sunday screening and at a Tuesday screening as well.