“Marie Laveau,” still from “Blood of the Wolfman,” by Evanston resident Paul McComas, to be screened at 11 p.m. on May 1 at 911 Foster St. Photo courtesy of Paul McComas.

Local filmmakers Ines Sommer and Kathy Berger, co-directors of Evanston-based Percolator Films, will present The Talking Pictures Festival, Evanston‘s very first film festival, May 1-3.

The festival, highlighting new independent films from around the world, is intended to engage audiences of all ages and is billed as “a celebration of films with a unique voice and point-of-view.”

Approximately 20 independent films have been selected for screening throughout the weekend at four Evanston venues: Block Cinema,

40 Arts Circle

Drive; Boocoo Cultural Center and Café,

1823 Church St.

; Evanston Public Library,

1703 Orrington Ave.

; and After Hours Movie Rentals,

911 Foster Ave.

In January, a call for submissions resulted in approximately 70 entries from as near as Evanston to as far as Asia.

“We were thrilled by the international response,” says Ms. Berger, a former public interest lawyer turned filmmaker who founded Evanston‘s Reeltime in 1999, an independent film and video forum.

“We assembled a qualified group of pre-screeners to select the films to be aired,” says Ms. Sommer, an award winning indie filmmaker with extensive experience as a video producer/director.

In addition, several of this year’s most intriguing documentaries and films have been selected from the international film festival circuit including some Oscar nominated short films.

“These are films you can’t see on television or in the theater,” says Ms. Sommer.  “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to view some really wonderful independent films.”

“We are always looking for an opportunity to offer a platform for independent filmmakers,” says Ms. Berger. She says their motivation for creating the film festival in part stems from their awareness of how difficult it can be for the average person to access independent films.

The eclectic mix of films on the festival’s schedule range from an animated short film by local filmmaker Jodie Mack, “Yard Work is Hard Work,” which is set to original songs and follows a pair of newlyweds as they learn the perils of
homeownership, to the internationally recognized film by Abigail E. Disney and Gini Reticker, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” a documentary that tells the story
of a small band of Liberian women who came together in the midst of a civil war.

Several of the films will include a forum or short discussion following the showings.

The duo is confident the festival will be warmly received by Evanston residents who they say are “a sophisticated audience passionately involved in political and social issues.”

Ms. Sommer and Ms. Berger agree the Evanston community has been very supportive of the project and are grateful to have been awarded a grant from the Evanston Community Foundation to help finance the endeavor. 

“The business community understands that a film festival can benefit everyone within the community,” says Ms. Sommer.  She hopes for a large turnout and expects this to be the first of many bigger and even better Evanston film festivals to come.

A party to kick off the first Talking Pictures Festival is scheduled for Friday, May 1 at 9:00 at Boocoo Cultural Center and Café.  Everyone is invited and admission is free. The celebration will offer film fans a chance to mingle with filmmakers, volunteers and film fest organizers.

Film tickets cost $8. Screenings at the Llibrary are free to attend, but donations are welcome. Further ticket information and a complete film schedule are available at www.talkingpicturessfestival.org.