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Five Fun Things to Do in Chicago This Week

Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Fun Home, Harriet Tubman: When I Cross That Line to Freedom, and Fallfest: Speed

MAIN ATTRACTION Elvis Costello plays the Chicago Theatre this weekend.   Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, October 26 through November 1, 2016

1 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival

Film:Cinephiles may scoff at this family-friendly festival, but in its 33-year history, it has bolstered all-ages classics like Wallace and Gromit and The Boxtrolls to international acclaim. This year’s offerings include a live-action take on Beauty and the Beast, and the flashy French animated feature Phantom Boy, not to mention the latest DreamWorks juggernaut, Trolls.
10/28–11/6. $5–$10. Various locations. facets.org

2 Elvis Costello & the Imposters

Rock:If Elvis Costello is in town, you don’t miss it. At this show, expect a mix of classic hits and newer selections from his last proper solo album, 2010’s National Ransom, and his last collaborative album (with the Roots), 2013’s Wise Up Ghost.
10/29 at 8 p.m. $39–$154. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. ticketmaster.com

3 Fun Home

Theater:Alison Bechdel’s quintuple Tony winner about growing up in a funeral home seesaws between wrenching sorrow and utter joy. Culled from the playwright’s own graphic memoir, the story rehashes Bechdel’s discovering that her father was gay, his eventual suicide, and her own coming out—all from the point of view of its present-day author.
11/2–13. $20–$147. Broadway in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. broadwayinchicago.com

4 Harriet Tubman: When I Cross That Line to Freedom

Opera:The proposed new face of America’s $20 bill gets the operatic treatment in a work by Nkeiru Okoye. The South Shore Opera Company, an ensemble striving to increase access to opera in underserved areas, produces the biography of the engineer of the Underground Railroad, starring the soprano Joelle Lamarre as Tubman.
10/30. $75–$250. South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore. southshoreopera.org

5 Fallfest: Speed

Festival:The speed-themed Chicago Humanities Fest opens with a day of lectures at Northwestern, including visits by Maureen Dowd and Jonathan Lethem and talks on such topics as teen texting.
10/29–11/12. $5–$50. Various venues. chicagohumanities.org

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Alison Cuddy Photo: Ben Gonzales

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know-locals: Alison Cuddy, associate artistic director at the Chicago Humanities Festival, which presents Fallfest: Speed beginning Saturday, October 29.

“This is the kickoff weekend of our fall series and, for as long as I’ve been at Chicago Humanities Festival, the opening day has been hosted by Northwestern University. It’s always one of the most exciting, energetic days of the year for us, and it begins with a talk between Maureen Dowd and David Axelrod. It’s a talk I’m particularly excited about because, just weeks shy of the election, I can’t imagine better people to offer their perspectives than David and Maureen. After that, I’ll be having a conversation with Jonathan Lethem about his new novel. It’s his tenth book, which blows my mind because I’ve been reading him for years, and he says that he wrote it purely for himself. I’ll be interested to ask him exactly what that means, since it’s about a backgammon gambling addict who gets a massive tumor and has to undergo facial reconstruction. He’s just a great interview in general—very deep into pop culture and full of The Big Lebowski references.

“We tried to approach this year’s Fallfest theme—Speed—from as many angles as possible. So, naturally, we’ve got James Gleick speaking about time travel at 4:30 p.m. He’s an incredibly smart science writer—he also coined the term “the butterfly effect”—who’s great at making things accessible to a more literary crowd. We close the day out with a 7:00 p.m. conversation with Senator Barbara Boxer, who’s been in government for 33 years. Speed, to my mind, isn’t just about acceleration, but also the long-view: a lot of people are looking askance at government these days, so hearing about our current political climate from a lifer like Barbara should be interesting.

“The festival is a marathon, not a sprint, so if I’m not too sleepy after that last talk, I’m going to try and catch a late screening of Moonlight at Century 12 Cinema in Evanston. I loved Mahershala Ali in House of Cards and Luke Cage, and the movie’s gotten so much wonderful buzz lately. Plus, going to a movie is, for me, a great way to decompress after a long day.

“On Sunday, it’s back to the races: I’m picking up Guardian writer Gary Younge bright and early at the airport and taking him to his noon talk at the Logan Center on the University of Chicago campus. His latest book, Another Day in the Death of America, tells the story of 10 people who died by gun violence on November 23, 2013, and his talk is another way we’re trying to get different perspectives and entry points to the often intractable world of politics. That sort of sets the tone for Sunday: most of our talks cover social issues, including Jal Mehta on what we really, realistically need to do to improve our schools. We also have some technology talks that day that I’m looking forward to: Harper Reed of Threadless and Obama for America will talk about the high-speed nature of the Internet, and James Rebanks (AKA Twitter’s favorite shepherd) talks about documenting a job that dates back to the Viking days with modern technology.

“I’ll probably end the day doing my own thing, as on Saturday, but I’m torn as to exactly what I’ll do. There’s a weekly dance party on Sundays at the Promontory in Hyde Park. It’s called Body, and they have really great DJs—another good way to unwind after a long day. But, if I’m too tired, I’ll probably just head for my neighborhood watering hole—Little Bad Wolf on Bryn Mawr. They have great tacos, burgers, and a really good beer selection. I might just treat myself to a Dovetail lager, which they usually have on tap. Beyond that, I’m just excited for everything that’s going on this weekend between Fallfest, the World Series, and Halloween. I’m hoping to see some people combining all three—maybe showing up to Fallfest in a Joe Maddon costume? Just an idea I’d like to put out there.” —As told to John Hardberger

Freebie of the Week

Día de los Muertos

Festival:Pilsen’s longest-running Day of the Dead celebration turns 37 this year with a procession of giant puppets, decorated pushcarts, and colorful ofrendas—altars dedicated to the deceased.
11/2 at 3:30 p.m. Free. Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton. chicagoparkdistrict.com

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