Chicago South Side Film Festival Producers Lex Curtis (l), Michelle Kennedy (c), and Felicia Apprey-Agyare (r). The festival will be alll-virtual this year. Credit: PROVIDED.

CHATHAM — The Chicago South Side Film Festival is back for its fourth year, but with an all-virtual format during the coronavirus pandemic.

The festival has expanded over the years and generated national attention while spotlighting South Side stories and storytellers who don’t often get the opportunity to share their work.

Like many events this year, organizers of the 10-day event, which had been held at Chatham’s Studio Movie Grill since 2017, shifted to an online-only platform. While the workshops and breakout sessions are gone for now, the festival lineup remains as diverse, entertaining and informative as ever, said assistant producer Lex Curtis.

“Surprisingly, we had the same number of submissions as we had last year, and we had a lot of really great films. The hard part was trying to scale it down with a much smaller budget,” said Curtis, who has been co-organizing the festival with Founder Michelle Kennedy since its inception.

The virtual festival begins Friday and runs through Oct. 4. Through the Seed & Spark platform, viewers can buy individual tickets for single films or festival passes. The films will stream during certain times, allowing ticketholders to log on anytime during those windows to watch.

Movie tickets are $8 each and festival passes are $40.

The virtual festival kicks off with the screening of “No Lye: An American Beauty Story,” which follows the rise and fall of the Black-owned ethnic beauty industry in America.

Another feature being screened is “Far East Deep South,” a documentary that follows Baldwin Chiu, a Chinese American artist from California, as he travels to Mississippi to learn about his family’s historical struggles.

There is also a South Side & Beyond short film block, which will include screenings of multiple short films by diverse directors, followed by panel discussions. 

A promotional poster for No Lye, which is headlining the 2020 Chicago South Side Film Festival. Credit: PROVIDED.

Curtis credited partners like Seed & Spark — a film-centric crowdfunding platform — for helping the festival change formats. Sponsors were also a huge help, Curtis said.

“They were really supportive. The Illinois Institute for Technology and A Space for Creators really stepped up to sponsor some of our screenings. We had a hard time finding support, but a few of our community members definitely showed up to help fill some of our gaps,” Curtis said.

More information about the festival, tickets and passes are available at the festival website.

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