The Lake County Film Festival is proud to announce its program of features for their 9th festival. The festival runs from September 5 – September 10, 2019, with screenings being held at Grayslake & Waukegan campuses of The College Of Lake County as well as The Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest, IL.

These 12 features are split evenly between women and men and split almost evenly between first-time feature directors and seasoned directors making their 3rd, 4th and even 15th feature in the case of Pizza, A Love Story’s Gorman Bechard. Premieres are split evenly between Midwest Premieres, Illinois Premieres & Lake County Premieres.

Of local interest are narrative features Olympia and Rendezvous In Chicago, which were shot locally by Chicago natives, as well as Romance Analyst, from Glencoe native Rachel Wortell, whose film marks a homecoming for her. Locally themed documentary features are Art Paul Of Playboy: The Man Behind The Bunny, about the man who transformed the art direction of magazine design and brought Chicago artists to world prominence and The City That Sold America, which chronicles the advertising industry of Chicago.

We are also very excited to have a couple of returning filmmakers with Attila Szász, who won the Jury Award for best short film in 2008, and returns with Eternal Winter, as well as Gorman Bechard who screened You Are Alone in 2006, and Friends (With Benefits) in 2010.  Both of these filmmakers have been very busy during our years away, and we’re thrilled to be able to share their work with audiences again. 

The feature films for the 2019 Lake County Film Festival are:

Feature Narratives

Alaska Is A Drag (Writer/Director: Shaz Bennett) 
This is a fish out of water story — literally. Everyone who slices fish all day daydreams – his are just glamtastic. He’s had to learn to fight to survive. And his boss who is also an amateur boxer takes note. When a new kid offers to be his sparring partner – he and his twin are forced to confront the real reason they’re stuck in fish guts.
Cast: Martin L. Washington, Jr., Maya Washington, Matt Dallas, Christopher O’Shea, Jason Scott Lee, Margaret Cho, Kevin Daniels, Nia Peebles

Eternal Winter (Director: Attila Szász, Writers: Attila Szász & Norbert Köbli)
Christmas 1944. Soviet soldiers invade Hungary and drag every young ethnic German woman away from a small village and transport them to a Soviet labor camp where they are forced to work in the coal mines under inhuman conditions. This is where Irén meets fellow prisoner Rajmund, who decides to teach her how to survive. While she is determined to return home to her little daughter and family, history and fate have a different plan: Irén and Rajmund fall in love. 
Based on a true story. Eternal Winter is the very first feature film about the 700,000 Hungarian victims of the Soviet labor camps whose stories remained untold for over 70 years.
Cast: Marina Gera, Sándor Csányi, Laura Döbrösi, Diána Magdolna Kiss

Olympia (Director: Gregory Dixon, Writer: McKenzie Chinn)
The lifelong dreams of becoming a successful artist at home in Chicago have begun to crumble around Olympia Welles. As the dust settles, she finds herself with a mounting pile of debt, an eviction notice, a dying mother and a best friend moving to New York. Now Felix, her partner in crime and love of her life, proposes a hand in marriage and asks her to start a new life in California. The path to modern day adulthood is daunting and Olympia needs to figure out how it all works.
Cast: McKenzie Chinn, Charles Andrew Gardner

Rendezvous In Chicago (Writer/Director: Michael Glover Smith)
Michael Glover Smith’s third film is a three-part anthology film built upon sharply observed parallels between multiple couples at crucial turning points in their relationships. In the tense and sexy “The Brothers Karamazov,” a Russian-lit major calls a pickup artist’s bluff by challenging him to a game of Strip Literary Trivia. “Cats and Dogs” is a Rogers Park stroll with a gay couple who seem made for each other–but can they bridge the gulf between cat-people and dog-people? In the metafictional “The End Is the Beginning,” an enraged woman throws her unfaithful mate out of the apartment, then transfers her affections to an unexpected replacement.
Cast: Clare Cooney, Kevin Wehby, Nina Ganet, Matt Sherbach, David McNulty, Rashaad Hall, Shane Simmons, Haydée Politoff

Rich Kids (Director: Laura Somers, Writers: Laura Somers & David Saldaña)
Matías is a bright teenager whose family struggles with harsh financial troubles. When he discovers “Los Ricos”, a wealthy family, are out of town, Matías breaks into their mansion where he and his friends spend an afternoon basking in the good life. The party is soon disrupted when a trouble-making relative shows up uninvited. Loyalties are then pushed to the breaking point as Matías’s desire for power in the house rises. At its heart, Rich Kids is about a young man’s transformation from the person he thinks he’s supposed to be into the person he really is, as he comes to terms with the realities and consequences of living a community ravaged by the wealth gap and income inequality.
Cast: Gerardo Velasquez, Justin Rodriguez, Michelle Magallon, Ulysses Montoya, Alessandra Mañon, Naöme Antoinette

Romance Analyst (Writer/Director: Rachel Wortell)
Felicia, a woman who is feeling uninspired by her filmmaking career and spiraling into a comedic depression, starts seeing a therapist, at her best friend Max’s recommendation. Soon, she becomes enamored with this new woman in her life, but when things eventually start to feel off, she wonders who this woman really is.
Cast: Peter Vack, Lily Meyer, Jeff Kahn, Eleanore Pienta

Feature Documentaries

Art Paul Of Playboy: The Man Behind The Bunny (Director: Jennifer Hou Kwong/Jian Ping)
Art Paul of Playboy: The Man Behind the Bunny presents the life and lasting impact of Art Paul, founding art director of Playboy magazine, creator of the brand’s iconic bunny logo, and an unsung, iconic artist of our time. Paul’s thirty-year tenure at Playboy single-handedly changed the landscape of the two-dimensional magazine and revolutionized the relationship between art and publishing. Through conversations with Paul himself, archival footage and imagery, and interviews with artists, graphic designers, art directors, and former Playboy executives who worked with him, Art Paul of Playboy: The Man Behind the Bunny reveals the life and accomplishments of a legendary art director, acclaimed artist and inspiring human being.

The City That Sold America (Director: Ky Dickens)
From “Whass-up!” to the Marlboro Man, Spuds Mackenzie to orange juice for breakfast, Chicago’s advertising companies have given birth to some of the most seminal marketing campaigns ever. This snappy jingle of a documentary reveals, with intriguing insights and wistful nostalgia, the confluence of Chicago’s creative talent—from Leo Burnett to Bob Scarpelli—and the transformative ways that they’ve shaped popular culture.

Pizza, A Love Story (Director: Gorman Bechard)
In the 6 block radius of Wooster square lies the trifecta, Sally’s, Pepe’s and Modern. Three pizza palaces loved by everybody from Presidents to Rock Stars. Even Frank Sinatra used to send his driver all the way from Hoboken just to pick up some pies. And to the people of the Elm City, there’s no question. Since Frank Pepe first wheeled his bread cart down Wooster street in 1925, New Haven has been home to the finest pizza on the planet. Pizza, A Love Story takes a look at the long history, the families, the high and the lows of three universally recognized restaurants, and how a city that itself has gone through many highs and lows, has always rallied behind them.

RocKabul (Director: Travis Beard)
RocKabul is a coming of age documentary which deals with youth identity and freedom of expression that existed on the precipitous of the fragile city of Kabul. It shows the strength of the human spirit as Afghanistan’s first and only metal band, District Unknown, reach out to the disenchanted Afghan youth, the expat community and eventually the outside world. However, by challenging this traditional Islamic republic, District Unknown literally put themselves and their fans in the firing line. The grassroots music movement which encouraged the participation of men and women alike ultimately crumbles under the weight of the conservative society that shadows them. Captured by Australian filmmaker, Travis Beard who lived in Kabul for seven years, the film features a side of Afghan life rarely shown in Western media.

Rukus (Director: Brett Hanover)
A hybrid of documentary and fiction, Rukus is a queer coming of age story set in the liminal spaces of furry conventions, southern punk houses, and virtual worlds. Rukus is a 20-year-old furry artist, living with his boyfriend Sable in the suburbs of Orlando, Florida. In his sketchbooks, Rukus is constructing an imaginary universe – a sprawling graphic novel in which painful childhood memories are restaged as an epic fantasy. Brett is a 16-year-old filmmaker with OCD, working on a documentary about kinky subcultures in spite of his own anxiety. After an interview leads to an online friendship, their lives entwine in ways that push them into strange, unexplored territories.

While I Breathe, I Hope (Director: Emily Harrold)
What does it mean to be young, Black, and Democrat in the Southern Republican state of South Carolina? Through experiences of politician Bakari Sellers, While I Breathe, I Hope unravels that question. Our film follows Sellers on his 2014 bid for Lieutenant Governor, through the Charleston Shootings and removal of the Confederate flag in 2015, and to the present as he takes on a national role as a CNN political commentator and considers his future in Trump’s America. While I Breathe, I Hope is a portrait documentary of a young African American Millennial set against the landscape of race and politics in the American South. 

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