Once a year, Naperville is host to some of the best independent films from across the United States and around the world. The ninth annual Naperville Independent Film Festival begins on Saturday, September 10, screening films for the following seven nights at the Hollywood Palms Cinema. Tickets are $9 for each showing. The Awards Ceremony takes place on Saturday night, September 17, with nine trophies bestowed on the best of the best. Tickets for the Awards Ceremony are $16. Hollywood Palms Cinema offers a full food and drinks menu and requests you purchase at least one item. All film buffs are invited to both watch the films and attend the Awards Ceremony.
As a special bonus this year, winners of the recent European Independent Film Festival and some additional NIFF selections will be shown at North Central College from September 19 - 23. Films will be screened at Smith Hall and tickets are $5 at the door.
Of course the films themselves are the biggest draw of the festival, but there are a few unexpected treats in store as well. Read on for some highlights of this year’s fest:
For example, Neel Upahyde will be on hand to do a Q&A after the screening on Friday, September 16. Upahyde is the director of the opening night feature film, a serio-comedy called “Dating Daisy.” It’s such an audience-pleaser, we’re showing it twice! Once on opening night and again on Friday. It wonderfully depicts many of today’s complex relationships with lives that seem to be heading in unknown and different directions. Our judges felt so strongly about the film that it was nominated for four awards – for Best Feature, Best Direction, and Best Actor and Actress. “Dating Daisy” was the Audience Choice Award Winner at the Sedona Film Festival earlier this year, and was also featured at the Phoenix Film Festival in March. You’ll want to come see “Dating Daisy” on Opening Night and again on Friday at 9 PM so you can meet Neel!
If you’re looking for a great action film with twists and turns along the way, NIFF’s feature film on Monday at 7 PM, “Intersection,” is what you’re looking for. The main character is played by long-time actor Hoyt Richards who is haunted by the accidental death of his daughter and is searching for redemption. The film was a winner in 36 film festival awards over the last year and is nominated for four NIFF awards as well (Best Feature, Best Direction, and Best Actor and Actress). Mr. Richards will be here for a Q&A after the screening so be sure to stay for that.
One of the best and most unique things about film festivals is the opportunity to bring great documentaries to the audiences with human stories from all over the globe! This year’s NIFF documentary line-up fills that bill, including our Tuesday 5 PM offering, “Rwanda and Juliet,” winner of Best Documentary at this year’s Phoenix and Nevada Film Festivals and a Best Doc nominee for NIFF. The film follows Ivy League professor emeritus Andrew Garrod to Kigali, Rwanda, where he mounts Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with Rwandan college students from both Hutu and Tutsi backgrounds. The cast of young, predominantly orphan, Rwandans tackle their country's past and their own future as hopes, expectations, pasts, personalities and cultures collide as opening night approaches. Lovers of Shakespearian Theater will appreciate the Rwandan flavor.
This year’s submissions included a number of superior documentary films. “A Farmer’s Road” is another one nominated for Best Documentary and will premiere at 5 PM on Wednesday. A great experience for those among us who want to learn more about where our food comes from, “A Farmer’s Road” shares with us the life of an independent Central Illinois farm family. The documentary draws comparisons between how our food supply is produced versus “the right way” as illustrated by filmmakers who are educated in Agricultural Engineering and dedicated to environmentally sustainable food production. You’ll want to stay after the closing credits as the filmmakers will be available for a Q&A after the screening.
“A Year by the Sea” is already a favorite among book lovers and they’re sure to also love this scenic film, premiering Wednesday at 7 PM. It was shot off the coast of New England and stars local favorite Karen Allen of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” fame. “A Year by the Sea” is a very poignant film for those of us starting a new course in life. Hoping to reclaim who she was before marriage and children, the main character retreats to Cape Cod. There she embarks on a quest to find fulfillment and happiness in a new life course. The cast includes some familiar actors and actresses, including S. Epatha Merkerson and Michael Cristofer. The film has been nominated for NIFF Best Feature and Best Actress awards and Ms. Allen may be joining us for a Q&A following the film. She has attended our festival before, so we’re hopeful you’ll have a chance to meet her!
NIFF’s Thursday 7 PM film, “Open Tables,” projects a local flair within the walls of the trendiest Chicago restaurants and extends to the banks of the Seine in Paris. The film’s wonderful ensemble cast of familiar local faces explores true love, love lost, and the importance of a good main course! Writer/director Jack Newell will be on hand for a Q&A following the film, so stay after the credits to hear him talk about his film.
The second showing on Thursday at 9 PM features a tense drama dealing with one of the most serious problems of our time – drug addiction among our young adults. The story focuses on two brothers torn apart and estranged during adolescence. The younger brother, a 16-year old on the fast track to college with his whole life in front of him, reunites with his older brother, a 21-year old heroin addict and street hustler who has settled for rock-bottom. NIFF-nominated writer/director Graham Streeter has indicated he will be on hand for a Q&A after the film.
“A New York Christmas” will help you get an early start on your Christmas spirit on Friday at 9 PM. Spend a few hours at an upscale New York hotel with the film’s ensemble cast of familiar actors and actresses, including TV and film star (and former Miss America) Lee Meriwether, while following six diverse stories of what we love and cherish in our relationships and our willingness to persevere to hold onto those dear to us. This wonderful film is premiering at NIFF and has garnered Best Feature and Best Director Awards. Stay after the screening to meet Writer/Director Nathan Ives who will be on hand for a Q&A.
These are just a few of the films being shown this year. Each seating has one feature and most have one or two short films as well. Short films last under a half-hour (some under ten minutes) and can pack as powerful a punch as a feature-length film.
Tickets are sold for seatings, so a single $9 ticket will get you 1, 2, 3 or maybe 4 films at a seating! Some nights have a single seating, but most have two seatings, so visit our Festival Schedule page at NaperFilmFest.org for a full list of films and times.
$9 is the price at Hollywood Palms Cinema, our home for the first week of the festival. During week two, which starts Sunday night, September 18, we’ll be in Smith Hall at Old Main on the North Central College campus. At Smith Hall during the second week, tickets are only $5 and are good for the whole night of at least two and often four films.
The first night of screenings at North Central College is a special event. It’s the Audience Choice Award replay! During the 1st week we’ll ask our audience to judge the films they see, and on Sunday, September 18, we’ll show the winner! Watch our website at 12:01 Sunday morning for who has won.
We look forward to an entertaining festival with many great movies and some enlightening conversation with the filmmakers and actors. We hope to see you there!