After a brief hiatus, the Films for $5ive Series returns this weekend at the 1010 Madison St. in Oak Park with a five-pack of independent documentaries.
First up on Friday is Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football, which chronicles a mostly Arab-American high school football team in Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Arab population. The team isn't just up against their gridiron rivals; they're battling stereotypes and racism in post-9/11 America. From the film's official website:
Fordson examines America's attitude towards Islam and Muslims and gets insight from past and present players to the racism they have experienced while playing football, from being called "Sand N---" and "Camel Jockey" to having fans on road trips wave the American Flag or wear turbans as they arrived at the stadium. Fordson also explores challenges the public school district has faced in addressing the needs of an overwhelmingly Muslim student body population, from changing the school calendar to accommodate for the Eid Holiday to providing "Halal" food via its lunch service to addressing the right of players to recite verses from the Quran on-field during pre-game warm-ups.
Leading off Saturday's screenings is Refrigerator Mothers, director David E. Simpson's heartbreaking and poignant look at the 1950s and 1960s-era mothers of autistic children who've endured "a medical establishment that pins the blame for her child's bizarre behaviors on her supposedly frigid and detached mothering."
According to the film's website, the documentary "puts a human face on what can happen when authority goes unquestioned and humanity is removed from the search for scientific answers."
Also on Saturday, the theater will screen a few short films by animator Lisa Barcy, who's 2003 film The Guilt Trip and 2004's Mermaids garnered praise from Chicago Reader reviewer Hank Sartin said was "highly recommended for those whose interest in animation goes beyond Disney." And be sure to check out Barcy's Vimeo channel; she's also done some interesting work with musician Andrew Bird.
Rounding out Saturday's selections is Louder Than a Bomb, produced and directed by Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel. The film follows four Chicago high school poetry slam teams as they compete in the "Louder than a Bomb" slam contest.
"While the topics they tackle are often deeply personal, what they put into their poems—and what they get out of them—is universal: the defining work of finding one's voice," according to the film's website.
On Sunday, the theater will screen a pair short films by acclaimed humanitarian director Maria Finitzo. First up is Life Lessons, described on the film's website as "a battle of wills between a young girl struggling to master the art of ballet (but who might rather be bowling and hanging out with boys) and her teacher, a dancer of great renown, who uses all of his willpower to motivate, inspire and occasionally terrify his reluctant student into finally finding the dancer inside herself."
Also showing on Sunday is Finitzo's My Mother's Idea, described as "a cross-genre documentary, a memoir of sorts, that looks back at what it was like studying ballet at one of the most renowned ballet schools in the country, and the impact of the two dancers- Walter Camryn and Bentley Stone - who ran the school for 45 years. Director Finitzo (herself a former student) uses humor, memory, archival footage, and narrative filmmaking interlaced with interviews of family and former students to highlight the dance careers of Camryn and Stone."
Friday, 7 p.m. — Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football (92 mins)
Saturday, 2 p.m. — Refrigerator Mothers (60 mins)
Saturday, 5 p.m. — Short films by Lisa Barcy (60 mins)
Saturday, 7 p.m. — Lousder Than a Bomb (99 mins)
Sunday, 2 p.m. — Life Lessons/My Mother's Idea (19 mins/47 mins)