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Logan Square International Film Series prepares to move to the Comfort Station

Peter Kaplan’s weekly apartment film series goes public.

Photograph: Allison Williams
COUCH POTATOES Josh Samuels and Peter Kaplan in the living room-slash-screening room.

There’s no doorbell on the gray brick four-flat off Kimball and Fullerton; instead, a printed flyer taped to the front door provides a number to call for entry. “Logan Square International Film Series,” Peter Kaplan answers. He’s at the door in seconds, leading me upstairs to his living room, where a four-by-five-foot projection screen faces a futon and a hodgepodge of chairs.

There are seven in attendance, including Kaplan’s girlfriend, Katherine Zwick, and his roommate. After chatting over cans of LaCroix, we settle in for a trio of creepy European animated shorts and the loony 2009 French puppetoon A Town Called Panic.

Screenings are usually on Sunday, but last night Kaplan was singing with the Chicago Chorale chorus. The 35-year-old GMAT test-prep teacher for Kaplan University (no relation) moved to Logan Square in 2009. In January 2010, he began opening his home for weekly screenings.

“I was looking for ways to draw together the people I was interested in meeting, as well as a non-awkward way of just welcoming neighbors,” he says. “Film is a great vehicle for bringing people together, keeping them together in one space for a time and inspiring better-than-average conversation.”

The series draws a core of regulars, plus a rotating group who return occasionally and, many weeks, a few first-timers. Josh Samuels, a figure model for the School of the Art Institute, saw a flyer at a neighborhood café in February 2010 for Kaplan’s exhaustive retrospective of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. He’s been coming every week since, and programmed LSIFS’s current series, Animation April, including Nina Paley’s one-woman feature Sita Sings the Blues, the bizarre French adventure Triplets of Belleville (Sunday 17) and the hallucinatory anime head-scratcher Paprika (April 24).

Zwick, a substance-abuse therapist, first showed up last June for a backyard showing of Bergman’s Persona, one of the most well-attended events with 25 people. Back then, a neighbor would prepare themed dinners and paired drinks—sushi for a Japanese movie, “shrimp on the barbie” for an Australian one. Unfortunately, the cook has since moved.

There are just a few more chances to catch the series in its original form before May 3, when Kaplan begins hauling his projector each Tuesday to the newly refurbished Comfort Station building. Last October, Logan Square Preservation completed the conversion of the 100-year-old former Tudor-style inn from Chicago Park District lawn-mower storage space to a multidisciplinary art center.

Comfort Station director David Keel was looking for film programming when he got an invitation to one of the apartment screenings, and Kaplan was itching to make LSIFS a little more accessible. “A public space,” Zwick jokes, “may be more welcoming to single women.”

The Logan Square International Film Series runs Sundays at 7pm (3421 W Medill Ave). On May 3, the series moves to the Comfort Station (2579 N Milwaukee Ave) Tuesdays at 8pm. Suggested donation.

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