Best of 2013: Most memorable Chicago movie moments

The Chicago movie scene in 2013 saw some impactful events, from the Music Box's 70mm Festival to Roger Ebert's memorial.

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  • The Music Box Theatre's 70mm Festival
    The February fest had its fair share of technical glitches. A print of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang arrived with a pink tint; a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey was canceled because two of the three DTS soundtrack discs were cracked. Yet the minifest showed off the visual splendor of the large format film-and gave us another chance to see Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master as it was meant to be seen.

  • Reopening of Harper Theater
    U. of C. students cheered the return of this Hyde Park theater, which started showing movies in January for the first time since 2002 following a three-year renovation that gutted the interior and added stadium seating for four new screens.

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    Kartemquin Films' Life Itself
    Production on the documentary based on Roger Ebert's memoir of the same name shifted into high gear in early 2013. Helmed by Hoop Dreams director Steve James and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, the doc from local company Kartemquin is set for release in 2014, but is raising funds through January 30 on Indiegogo to cover post-production costs.

  • Roger Ebert's public memorial
    On April 11 at the Chicago Theatre, Roger Ebert's family, friends and film industry admirers paid tribute to the giant of movie criticism, who died the previous week at age 70 after a long battle with cancer. The unforgettably touching public memorial was billed "A Celebration of Life: With Love From Chaz," Ebert's wife and constant companion.

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    As part of the Siskel Film Center's Conversations at the Edge series in April, artists and SAIC teachers Eric Fleischauer and Jason Lazarus (who also lectures at Columbia College) premiered twohundredfiftysixcolors. The film is apparently a first in motion pictures: a �curated, crowd-sourced collection of over 3,000 animated GIFs that have been transformed into a cinematic event.�

  • Chicago's star turn
    One of the few highlights of the cold, cacophonous Man of Steel, which hit theaters in June: Chicago and rural Illinois standing in for Metropolis and Smallville, Kansas, respectively. Unfortunately, our fair city gets pretty busted up along the way.

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    The Dissolve
    We were off on the name, but we called it way back in April: The great Onion A.V. Club exodus of 2013-the departure of Keith Phipps, Scott Tobias, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson and Genevieve Koski-all led up to a Chicago-based Pitchfork spinoff film site, which launched in July. Time will tell if the Dissolve can become a must-read, like its musical big sis, or if it will go the way of P4K's now-defunct fashion site, Nothing Major.

  • Bruce Dern at CIFF
    Dern had already taken the best actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival (for his role in Nebraska) by the time the Chicago International Film Festival got around to giving him a Career Achievement Award in October. But the 77-year-old actor, who grew up in suburban Kenilworth, said getting praise in his hometown had a difference significance. "The reason it means the most here in my home city is because a bunch of Chicagoans got together and said, 'Bruce Dern can play.'"

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    Chicago Film and Media Summit
    The inaugural event at the Cultural Center in October brought together producers, directors, and other film and TV industry folk, capping a year that saw a record six television shows shooting in town.

  • The Music Box's 30th anniversary
    In November, the 84-year-old Music Box Theatre celebrated the 30th anniversary of its reopening as a repertory movie house in 1983. Before that, the theater had gone through a period of neglect and shifting programming, including Spanish and Arabic films and even porno. The celebration also marked the grand reopening of the revamped auditorium No. 2, which was fitted with digital projection.

The Music Box Theatre's 70mm Festival
The February fest had its fair share of technical glitches. A print of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang arrived with a pink tint; a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey was canceled because two of the three DTS soundtrack discs were cracked. Yet the minifest showed off the visual splendor of the large format film-and gave us another chance to see Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master as it was meant to be seen.


The biggest Chicago movie story of 2013 was, unfortunately, an obituary: Roger Ebert succumbing to cancer in April at the age of 70. During a public memorial at the Chicago Theatre, Ebert's wife and constant companion, Chaz, saw everyone from Joan and John Cusack to Old Town Ale House proprietor Bruce Elliott to Christie Hefner paying tribute to the great critic whose thinking on film (and life) will be so missed. The year offered more upbeat news, too, including a luscious 70mm fest, the reopening of Hyde Park's Harper Theater and the start of Pitchfork's new Chicago-based film site, the Dissolve.   

RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best of 2013


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