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Englewood, Chatham

Chicago South Side Film Festival Accepting Submissions, Hoping To Hold Fest In Person This Year

Festival organizers are accepting online submissions through May 1, looking for feature films, shorts, animation and web series.

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.
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CHATHAM — The Chicago South Side Film Festival is back and looking for filmmakers ready to see their work on the big screen.

Festival organizers are accepting online submissions through May 1, looking for feature films, shorts, animation and web series. The festival — typically held in September — had to be held virtually last year due to the pandemic. The team is still determining whether this year’s event will be online or in person, but the show will go on, assistant producer Lex Curtis said.

“Last year’s fest went surprisingly well. I didn’t think it was possible with a small staff and and even smaller budget, but we were fortunate enough to make it work,” Curtis said. “We were still able to focus on our mission, and we had 17 films, most of them short.”

While Curtis is “cautionary optimistic” about the fest returning to its home at Chatham Studio Movie Grill, it all depends on the city’s response to COVID-19. As more residents are vaccinated, there may be a chance filmmakers and audiences will be able share the communal experience.

“We’re planning for the worst while hoping for the best,” Curtis said.

Some of the films shown in years past at the fest have been picked up by luminaries like Spike Lee. “Far East Deep South,” a film that follows one man’s journey as he learns of the history of his Chinese immigrant ancestors, has won several awards and recently joined New Day Films, a distribution company for educational films.

Given the pandemic and the financial constraints creators typically face, festival organizers wanted to make things a little easier this year, cutting the submission fee to $5. Though it may not seem like a lot, a lot of filmmakers aiming for “aggressive rollouts” can spend a considerable amount of coin applying to multiple festivals, Curtis said.

“We’re looking for something that definitely pulls the audience. It’s nice when you get movies with the big budget for the super professional crew, and the special effects and all that — and we’ve definitely had films with that super polished look. But it’s really about the compelling storytelling and the talent that really speaks across whatever their budgets may be, and diversity,” Curtis said.

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