The Lake County Film Festival is thrilled to announce the first twenty titles chosen for their 2020 edition. 

As announced earlier this week, all titles will be available on our virtual streaming platform, Seed&Spark. Additionally, locally-themed feature Monuments & Insert Coin will have in-person screenings at The Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest, IL.

Other films with local connections include documentaries about John Wayne Gacy’s defense attorney; Seasons Of Change On Henry’s Farm, which takes place on a farm downstate; and Chicago native Vince Clemente’s fun look at palindrome creators in The Palindromists.

While most of the features are American, the festival will feature foreign documentaries Queen Of Lapa from Brazil and the globe-trotting We Don’t Deserve Dogs. On the narrative side, Cabarete is a rare film from Dominican Republic; Feelings To Tell is a beautifully shot drama from China; Woman Of The Photographs hails from Japan; and Una Great Movie is mostly filmed in Mexico.

The 2020 Lake County Film Festival selected features are: 

Documentary Features

Insert Coin (d. Joshua Y. Tsui) (USA)

The oral history of a team of geeks and misfits in the back of a Chicago factory creating the biggest video games (Mortal Kombat, NBA JAM, and others) of all time.

John Wayne Gacy: Defending A Monster (d. Marc Menet & Scott Prestin) (USA)
The authorized documentary based on the best selling book John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster. This is the story of Sam Amirante, a young lawyer fresh from the Public Defender’s Office whose first client in private practice turns out to be one of the worst serial killers in American history. It all started with a phone call from Gacy, “Sam could you do me a favor?”

Nevertheless (d. Sarah Moshman) (USA)

Taking a look behind the headlines of #MeToo and Time’s Up, Nevertheless follows the intimate stories of 7 individuals who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or school context. From a writer’s assistant on a top TV show to a Tech CEO and 911 dispatcher, the film shines a light on the ways in which we can shift our culture and rebuild.

The Palindromists (d. Vince Clemente) (USA)
Delve into the history palindromes while following the world’s greatest palindromists as they prepare for the 2017 World Palindrome Championship.

Picture Character (d. Martha Shane & Ian Cheney) (USA)

How do you create a global language on the fly? Picture Character explores the complex, conflict-prone, and often hilarious world of the creators, lovers, and arbiters of emoji, our world’s newest pictorial language. This film charts the evolution of emoji and investigates what they may reveal about our increasingly technological world.

Queen Of Lapa (d. Carolina Monnerat & Theodore Collatos) (Brazil)
Larger-than-life actress, cabaret performer, activist, and proud sex professional since the age of eleven, Luana Muniz – arguably one of Brazil’s most recognizable transgender personalities, shapes a new reality for a new generation of transgender sex workers in her hostel by providing a safe working environment in the dangerous neighborhood of Lapa in Rio de Janeiro. Queen of Lapa explores the day-to-day lives, quests for love, housemate rivalries in a turbulent political climate under matriarch Muniz’s watchful and guiding eye.

Seasons Of Change On Henry’s Farm (d. Ines Sommer) (USA)
For a quarter-century, Henry Brockman has worked alongside nature to grow delicious organic vegetables on his idyllic Midwestern farm. But farming takes a toll on his aging body and Henry dreams of scaling back. So he puts his former apprentices in charge of the farm, while spending a “fallow year” with his wife Hiroko in Japan. But things don’t turn out as planned, and Henry must grapple with the future of farming in a changing climate on personal, generational, and global levels.

Stories I Didn’t Know (d. Melody Gilbert & Rita Davern) (USA)

A search for her Irish ancestors leads a woman down an unexpected path to reveal a family secret about a sacred piece of land. Like many children of immigrants, the past was often an unexamined topic. We learn the value of finding and facing the past by watching her journey.

Through The Cracks (d. Ben Scholle) (USA)
In July, 2002, Johnny Johnson was arrested and charged with the abduction and murder of 6-year-old Cassandra Williamson in Valley Park, Missouri. The effects of the crime continue to reverberate in the community. During the capital murder trial, a proceeding clouded by questions of mental illness and competency, a juror described the killing as “the worst possible crime.” This film seeks to answer the question: Does the worst possible crime deserve the worst possible punishment?

We Don’t Deserve Dogs (d. Matthew Salleh) (USA)
A contemplative odyssey across our planet, looking at the simple and extraordinary ways that dogs influence our daily lives.

Former child soldiers in Uganda. The local pub in a Scottish town. A dog walker on the streets of Istanbul. A kaleidoscope of unconventional portraits from fascinating locations.

People need dogs, and perhaps they need us, but what do humans do to deserve the unconditional love they provide?

Where She Lies (d. Zach Marion) (USA)

A gripping true story of an assaulted teen, Peggy Phillips, who gives birth out of wedlock in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1962. Upon giving birth, Peggy receives conflicting narratives about her infant’s fate, with one doctor claiming that her baby had passed, and another claiming it was thriving. Thirty-three years later, Peggy’s mother reveals on her deathbed that Peggy’s baby is still alive. After a series of new attempts to uncover the truth, including exhuming her infant’s alleged grave, Peggy reaches an impasse when she runs out of money.

Almost two decades later, the film documents Peggy uncovering the truth about what happened. Through its investigation of false narratives, memory, and motherhood, the film explores the gas-lighting and discrimination that Peggy faced as a sexual assault survivor in the 1960’s deep south.

Narrative Features

The Blackout (d. Daniela De Carlo) (USA)
As hurricane Sandy descends upon New York, leaving destruction in her wake and plunging the city into darkness, a group of friends and neighbors come together and discover the joys, heartaches, and pleasures of human connection.

Cabarete (d. Ivan Bordas) (Dominican Republic)
Inspired by true events. Cabarete follows the story of Somalia, a good-hearted teenage kitesurfer from the Dominican Republic who convinces his idol to train him for an upcoming tournament in Cabarete. However, once in Cabarete, the town’s hedonistic nightlife quickly catches Somalia’s attention, and he finds himself having to choose between a life of pleasure and pursuing the athlete ambitions he once had.

Feelings To Tell (Gui Qu Lai Xi) (d. Wen Li) (China) 

After falling into sleep, Jiang, a young painter, finds himself in a Taogu village where he meets a mute girl, Jiu’er and her foster father Old Bai, who believed firmly in ancient Xiangchu gods.

As an observer and participant of the dream, the veneration they showed to the gods deeply touched Jiang. When Jiang witnessed the deep affection that his grandfather showed to his grandmother, he felt more puzzled over the fact that his parents had torn the last veil of hypocrisy and wished to get rid of the perplexities of real life. 

For the second time, Jiang entered into Taogu Mountain and re-acquainted with Old Bai and Jiu’er, he found that this was a mystic domain of reversed time. Jiu’er’s age means she will soon become a ‘mountain goddess’ and must be taken away…

Love Is Not Love (d. Stephen Keep Mills) (USA)
Early December, and everyone is in the hunt for love in this romance of fantasy, fate, and yearning. Why? Because they haven’t found it and because they haven’t found it, they make it into a myth and chase the myth instead.

Frank has been married to Paula for 30 years, and like many older men, desperately fears that he has missed out on something that always seems just out of reach. His search leads him to a much younger woman who works as an escort, and who initially makes him feel whole again. Blinded by the fantasy that she could be his true love, he gradually recognizes that this is merely a fable produced by his yearning. Biting dialog and a quirky take on romance, Love is Not Love explores the myth and the reality of fantasy, fate, and that illogical little thing called love

Monuments (d. Jack C. Newell) (USA)
Ted (David SullivanPrimer) and Laura (Marguerite MoreauWet Hot American Summer) are at a precarious stage of their marriage when Laura is killed in a car accident. Paralyzed with grief, Ted is literally unable to let her go, carrying her ashes around under his arm. When he is visited by her ghost, who tells him to go against her family’s wishes and scatter her ashes a thousand miles away, at The Field Museum in Chicago. Unfortunately, with Laura’s family in pursuit, led by Ted’s nemesis – Howl (Javier MuñozHamilton) it won’t be that easy. 

Rattled (d. Kd Amond) (USA)

Upon her mother’s death, Michelle Daniels returns home where she’s unexpectedly reunited with her estranged and acutely mentally ill sister Addison. What Michelle intended to be a quick trip to settle the family succession, spirals out of control as her sister displays an increasingly sinister obsession. 

Seven Short Films About (Our) Marriage (d. Chris Hansen) (USA)
Noah and Madison are artists who want to change the world, and they begin their marriage as most couples do – full of hope and idealism, sure that their love will solve all their problems.  But marriage isn’t all about the great times people post on social media. It’s also about the arguments over petty stuff, and the arguments over big stuff, and the longstanding resentments that no one wants to even bring up. Seven Short Films About (Our) Marriage tells a story of raw authenticity in seven episodes spanning fourteen years of their marriage as they reckon with racism, career challenges, medical issues, and more.

Una Great Movie (d. Jennifer Sharp) (USA/Mexico)
Susan is a black American woman travelling to Mexico to rekindle a romance with her former lover. Or is she? As a screenwriter struggles to tell the story she has dreamed of writing all her life, she is faced with pushback from the gatekeepers of the film industry who insist on white-washing the cast and treating the people of color as one-dimensional stereotypes. Funny, full of heart, and thoroughly entertaining, Una Great Movie incorporates a professional cast mixed with local Mexican non-actors while introducing refreshing new perspectives that challenge common stereotypes and portraying a universal humanity rather than categories of difference.

Woman Of The Photographs (d. Takeshi KUSHIA) (Japan)
A misogynic photographer discovers for the first time in his life the joys of loving a woman, this one confused about her self-identity and self-esteem, by helping her in her perceptions of herself with his photographic retouching skills.

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