An ambitious new Chicago festival highlighting the best in contemporary nonfiction cinema is set to take place at the Music Box Theatre over the first weekend in April. Presented by Chicago Media Project and curated by Anthony Kaufman (who also programmed the documentary lineup at last year’s Chicago International Film Festival), the festival called DOC10 features movies by Werner Herzog, Barbara Kopple and Albert Maysles alongside up-and-coming directors.
Chicagoans should jump at the chance to pay their respects to “direct cinema” legend Maysles by seeing his final feature, In Transit, on the big screen. Co-directed by four other filmmakers, it’s a lovely portrait of the Empire Builder, the nation’s busiest long-distance train line, which runs between Chicago and Seattle. As with all of Maysles’s work, the film is more observational than informational; the focus is not on the logistics of train travel but on the fascinating lives of the commuters. Shot entirely aboard trains in transit, the title is a play on words, as the lives of many of its subjects are dramatically in transition.
Another festival must-see is Herzog’s Lo and Behold: Reveries from the Connected World, an alternately provocative and playful documentary about the Internet’s effect on global culture. Featuring interviews with digital pioneers, scientists, hackers and even young people addicted to being online, it’s an even-handed look at both the glories and the dark side of the ‘net from an admitted luddite. As with In Transit, Lo and Behold features a Chicago connection: astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz of the Adler Planetarium is a prominent interview subject.
More information on DOC10, including the full lineup, ticket info and showtimes, can be found on the DOC10 website.