Will This Festival Be Chicago’s SXSW?

Starting tonight, the fifth Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (aka CIMMfest) debuts its most ambitious performance lineup ever.

photo: courtesy of cimmfest
 

Since 2009, the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (a.k.a. CIMMfest) has always done one thing really well: a comprehensive program for one of the nation’s only music-centered film festivals. Yet in 2013, there’s been a shift by organizer Josh Chicoine (who founded the fest with his filmmaker neighbor Ilko Davidov in 2009): More live music.

The change in the entertainment lineup has given the festival a huge push. There are even some whispers of CIMMfest becoming Chicago’s SXSW.

“The last four years we did our best job at being a film festival, but we all agreed that there should be a larger music element,” Chicoine says, noting that the advent of clubs on Milwaukee Avenue gave the planning committee a huge boon to create a larger festival atmosphere. “Township, Coles … there were all these venues popping up that could help us have one long street fest.”

Running from April 18–21, CIMMfest stretches the club route on Milwaukee from Diversey to Division. Nearby stops at Burlington, the Hideout, and Music Box offer more than 100 events over 4 days. Music-focused films combine with live music, including a Bloodshot Records showcase. New this year, too, is CIMMcon, a panel series offering experts’ tips on crowd funding, music licensing and more.

Chicoine’s motivation in expanding the lineup may be that he is a musician himself, having played in bands since he moved to the city in 1995, including The M’s and most recently Sabers (check them out at Lincoln Hall May 4). Through these ventures, he met many of the club owners, talent buyers and promoters in the community that has collaborated on CIMMfest.

“That’s the cool thing about festivals,” he says. “They challenge you to expand your world with something new and bring people of different backgrounds together.”
 

Here are our recommendations on what to check out today through this weekend:

Thursday, April 18: A Special Night with Van Dyke Parks and Richard Parks
Richard Parks will screen short documentaries based on his father’s musical legacy as the producer and composer who worked with Brian Wilson, U2 and Frank Zappa; a conversation and live performance follows. (7:00 p.m., Constellation, 3111 N Western, $20–25)

Friday, April 19: The Funky Meters/JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
Famed New Orleans musician Art Neville brings the funk (and bayou blues); hometown heroes JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound open. (6:20 p.m., Congress Theatre, 2135 N Milwaukee, $25)

Saturday, April 20: The Jesus Lizard: Last Concert
The world premiere of a documentary chronicling the Chicago rock legends’ rumored last show at Metro on New Year’s Eve of 2009. (11:15 p.m., Society for the Arts, 1112 N Milwaukee, $10)

Sunday, April 21: Wax Trax! Soiree
It’s a reunion of the industrial label family, hosted by founder Jim Nash’s daughter Julia. Music, video and memories will be on-hand as will Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks) and other notables. (2:00 p.m., Logan Theatre Lounge, 2646 N Milwaukee, FREE)

Four-day passes for access to all festivities can also be purchased for $50.

Selena Fragassi is a contributing music critic for Chicago.

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