Better than Blockbuster
Perhaps the best reason to live on popcorn alone: the Chicago International Film Festival opened last night and runs through Wednesday the 17th with hundreds of documentaries, features, and shorts from 44 countries. High-profile attendees include Tony-winner Jeffrey Wright, star of the fest entry Blackout and recipient of this year’s Black Perspectives career achievement award (Black Perspectives Tribute and Party, Saturday the 13th), but we recommend balancing your out-of-town intake with a shot or two of local talent. In America the Beautiful, Chicagoan Darryl Roberts interviews advertising and fashion pros about our country’s obsession with looks; see it Saturday the 6th at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.; 312-902-1500). Also of note, 100 years of Filmmaking in Chicago, a program of shorts shot in the city between 1907 and 1915, which screens Sunday the 14th to live musical accompaniment at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.). Visit for a full schedule and ticket information.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

• It gives new meaning to the phrase “play bridge”: In Clark Street Bridge Percussion Orchestra, a site-specific, one-time-only performance that’s part of Chicago Artists Month, 60 percussionists bang on said bridge (Wacker Drive at the Chicago River; 312-744-6630) with drumsticks, mallets, and gong batons. The show, conceived by artist Hugh Musick and composed by Eric Roth, starts at 1 p.m. Saturday the 6th.

• Masterful short-story writer and newly named “genius grant” recipient Stuart Dybek talks about his work as part of the Chicago Treasures series at the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.; 312-642-4600), Wednesday the 10th at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12.

• Hundreds of musicians, artists, and performers team up for the latest version of John Cage’s Musicircus, an overlapping mélange of creative works including Cage’s Water Walk—featuring one performer, one bathtub, one blender, and five radios on “off”—plus plenty of other acts you have to see to grasp. Musicircus runs Sunday the 7th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.; 312-744-6630); admission is free.

• Catch indie-rock band Dr. Dog, which recently opened for Wilco and counts Beck and The Strokes as fans, before it’s officially discovered by the mainstream masses. Showtime is 9 p.m. Tuesday the 9th at Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western Ave.; 773-276-3600); tickets are $15 at the door, $13 in advance.

• Following a year of sold-out performances in New York, Nilaja Sun brings her one-woman show, No Child, an examination of the Bronx school system in which she plays both teacher and student, to the Lookingglass Theatre (821 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-337-0665). The show opens to the public Wednesday the 10th at 7:30 p.m.; tickets run $25 to $55.

• New, buzz-worthy troupe La Costa Theatre (3931 N. Elston Ave.; 866-468-3401) opens its first production, On Stars Not Falling, Friday the 5th at 7:30 p.m. Piven Theatre literary director Scott Shallenbarger wrote the play, which follows a group of friends over the course of one emotional night on a Chicago rooftop. Tickets are $15 to $20; the show continues through Sunday the 28th.

• For the exhibition Fictional Characters at Lillstreet (4401 N. Ravenswood Ave.; 773-769-4226), artists created new works based on a text written by The Time Travelers Wife author and artist Audrey Niffenegger, who also curates the show. An opening reception kicks off Saturday the 6th at 4 p.m. with a reading by Niffenegger at 7 p.m. Free.

• Or browse art on the go at the 12th annual Art on Harrison, thrown by the Oak Park Arts District on Harrison Street between Austin Boulevard and Ridgeland Avenue. The fest runs Friday the 5th through Sunday the 7th. Call 708-848-1761 for more information.

PLEASE NOTE: Events may be postponed or simply canceled. Please call ahead to make sure they are still scheduled to take place. Send tips or comments to