Film freaks get the best of both worlds this week: new movies from emerging filmmakers, and star-studded premières and parties-all part of the five-night Gen Art Chicago Film Festival, Tuesday the 26th through Saturday the 30th. Celeb-sighting opportunities begin with the fest’s opening night, when Heather Graham (Boogie Nights, Swingers) attends the première of Broken, in which she portrays a Los Angeles waitress, at Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.); an after-party follows at The Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon Dr.). Then, Friday the 29th, Alan Cumming (The Anniversary Party, Circle of Friends) hits town for the screening of his solo directorial debut, Suffering Man’s Charity, a dark, edgy story about the relationship between a music teacher and his protégé. Following opening night, all screenings take place at AMC Pipers Alley (1608 N. Wells St.). Tickets are $20 per night or $75 for a fest pass; visit genart.org or call 312-229-1701.
Best Bets for Things to Do This Week
• The taste level is questionable; the story absurd-but neither of those issues will bother true movie geeks. In the play Siskel & Ebert Save Chicago, Oprah, Mancow, and Richard Roeper brainwash soccer moms with a plot to besiege Daley Plaza; in order to foil the plan, Siskel and Ebert must use their greatest skill: criticism. Opens Sunday the 24th at Prop Thtr (3502 N. Elston Ave.; 866-811-4111) with shows Sundays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., through July 28th. Tickets run $10 to $20.
• Joss Whedon-heads, be still your hearts: Devoted fans of the creator of the cult classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer get a double-whammy at the Portage Theater (4050 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-736-4050). Beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday the 22nd, the theatre hosts back-to-back screenings of Whedon’s 2005 sci-fi feature, Serenity, and the 2006 documentary Done the Impossible: The Fans’ Tale of “Firefly” and “Serenity.” Tickets are $12.50 in advance and $15 at the door.
• When a guy unveils his first collection of short stories at age 29, then spends the next eight years working on his debut novel, the results had better be epic. Author Nathan Englander chats with Chicago’s Victoria Lautman about The Ministry of Special Cases, set during Argentina’s dirty war, Sunday the 24th from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at this month’s installment of Writers on the Record. The event takes place at Lookingglass Theatre (821 N. Michigan Ave). Tickets are free; call 312-832-6788 or visit chicagomag.com for reservations.
• Bonus points for the onomatopoetic acronym: Catch two days of live music-featuring many local bands booked by that Roscoe Village favorite, the Beat Kitchen-at BAM! Belmont Arts and Music Fest. The debut neighborhood bash runs from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday the 23rd and Sunday the 24th (intersection of Belmont and Damen Avenues); tickets are $5.
• Before there was “chick lit” or “chick flicks,” there was the Indigo Girls, the group that defined the chick-music genre with poetic lyrics, soaring harmonies, and riff-heavy guitars. The duo brings its energetic show to Ravinia Festival (200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park; 847-266-5100) Monday the 25th at 8 p.m.Tickets are $45 for reserved seats, $20 for the lawn. Park gates open at 5 p.m.
• Known for its burgeoning arts community, Mexico City gets the spotlight in Escultural Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-280-2660). Among the artists included in the show is Dr. Lakra, who superimposes tattoos onto 1950s magazine photos, thus giving idealized pin-up girls ink up their sleeves. The exhibition opens Saturday the 23rd and runs through Sept. 2nd. Visit mcachicago.org for more information.
• Consider it a pre-party to the main event: A day before the raucous Pride Parade is the fourth annual Chicago Pride Fest. Live music offerings include Sister Sledge’s Kathy Sledge, of the gay anthem “We Are Family” fame, as well as Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and Naked Boys Singing, plus a performance by the Gay Shakespeare company. The fest runs 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday the 23rd (intersection of Halsted Street and Waveland Avenue); admission is $5. Call 773-868-3010 for more information.
• If the phone number 867-5309 is indelibly etched into your brain, come relive the 1980s when the band Tommy TuTone performs its one-hit wonder-and other songs from the decade-9 p.m. Saturday the 23rd at Cans Bar and Canteen (1640 N. Damen Ave.; 773-227-2277). Digital Underground also performs 9 p.m. Friday the 22nd as part of the bar’s fifth birthday celebration. Admission is $5; doors open at 4 p.m. both days, with DJs spinning from 6 to 9 p.m.
• Fete Arab culture at Chicago Arabesque, the city’s first-ever Arab fest. The four-day event runs Wednesday the 27th through Saturday the 30th in Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St.), and includes artist demos, a shopping bazaar known as a souq, belly dancing, and live music. Admission is free; visit chicagoarabesque.com for more information.