On Saturday, Sept. 23, the Elgin Short Film Festival will return for its ninth year to the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin.
The festival has drawn film entries from around the world.
Winners will be selected by a panel of celebrity judges, and audience members will cast their votes for their favorite film. Awards and monetary prizes will be presented to the top three films. A special People's Choice award will be presented based solely on audience votes.
The top six finalists will be shown at 7 p.m. They are:
• "Seared," Ben Gustafson, director. Beaten by injustice and a life of crime, a young man's plan to end it all turns into a life of renewed hope and a passionate career as a chef.
• "Watermelon Eyes," Jeremy Silva, director. An overdue letter opens a window to the past for a broken alcoholic, who has been blind to his addiction and must weigh his poison against the love of his life.
• "Ten More," Brad Riddell, director. A concert pianist (David Pasquesi) receives a startling omen as he struggles to recover from a traumatic brain injury.
• "Too Evil," Conlon Taaffe, director. The bumbling Demon King realizes his creepy daughter may just be too evil for her own good.
• "Blow Job," Robert Hemlich, director. An inflatable tube man vies for the attention of his lady love through the art of erotic dancing.
• "The Puppy Trials," Thomas Nicol, director. Written by third-grader Claire Hartman, "The Puppy Trials" is the story of an old abandoned German shepherd teaching a group of puppies how to behave,
Mike Toomey, a regular performer on the WGN Morning News, will again bring his comedic talents as master of ceremonies to present this year's finalists.
The evening begins when Chamber Music on the Fox presents a live performance of a new score to accompany the screening of Charlie Chaplin's silent film, "The Tramp," at 5:30 p.m. The film festival's red carpet reception is at 6:15 p.m., and the film screening of the top six finalists is at 7 p.m. Tickets to the Elgin Short Film Festival (including chamber performance and red carpet reception) are $7 and may be purchased at The Hemmens Box Office, online at www.hemmens.org or by phone at (847) 931-5900. The Hemmens is at 45 Symphony Way, Elgin.