Constable: After lost year, AfterImage Film Festival returns to big screen in St. Charles
A couple of years ago, some dedicated film buffs in the Fox Valley hatched the ambitious idea of the AfterImage Film Festival, an annual event featuring critically acclaimed independent films shown at the Charlestowne 18 Cinema in St. Charles. And it was a hit.
"At the end of 2019, we felt really great about what we had pulled off," remembers Andrew Carlin, a 35-year-old St. Charles resident who works in film distribution for New York City-based Oscilloscope Laboratories and is president of the AfterImage Film Festival.
"You have a lot of momentum coming off a successful year. They wanted us back in 2020, and, obviously, we had to pull the plug on that."
The deadly pandemic threatened to make their great idea a one-and-done.
"We were in the throes of it. It seems like a lifetime ago now," Carlin says, noting that some film festivals went to online screenings. "Asking people to watch something at home on their laptop doesn't really seem like a festival. I love going to the theater. It's one of my favorite things."
So the second annual film festival didn't happen as scheduled.
"We completely powered down," Carlin says. "But we do have this amazing core of volunteers."
Carlin, Fran Yoshioka of South Elgin, Christina Byrne of Geneva, Scott Rolf of Geneva, Freddie Lee of Lombard and other film-lovers put together a 2021 AfterImage Film Festival set for Oct. 22-24 with award-winning full-length films, shorts, documentaries and foreign films.
"I know the audience is here," Carlin says, noting that people in the suburbs appreciate seeing films that generally don't make it to shopping mall megaplexes.
Director Mia Hansen-Løve's "Bergman Island," which stars Tim Roth, Mia Wasikowska and Vicky Krieps, screened at the Telluride Film Festival and Festival de Cannes before coming to St. Charles.
Another Cannes film joining the lineup at AfterImage is "The Velvet Queen," which follows the journey through the Tibetan highlands in search of the elusive snow leopard.
"Becoming Cousteau," a National Geographic Documentary Films, looks at the life of undersea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
"Dark Horse" tells the story of an unlikely racehorse in Wales.
The festival also includes a 20th anniversary showing of "Sexy Beast," an iconic crime film starring Ben Kingsley.
You can find the full lineup at afterimagefilmfestival.com.
Among the short films in the festival is Libertyville filmmaker Rob Rook's entertaining "¿Que Haces Aqui?" It tells the true story of how Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Karen Kerbis started watching telenovelas in an effort to learn Spanish and eventually moved to Mexico City to write the telenovela she always wanted to watch.
"Both Karen and I will be there," Rook says of AfterImage, where he and his star will answer questions from the audience. "I'm really excited about that."
His wife, Lindsay Morris, is a producer of the film. The 31-year-old Rook spent four months filming in Chicago and went to Mexico in 2019 to capture footage after Kerbis' move.
Another short film, "Chuj Boys of Summer," features a Guatemalan teenager starting a new life in a small Rocky Mountain town.
The documentary "The Lost Astronaut" tells the story of Ed Dwight Jr., who was poised to be NASA's first Black astronaut in 1963, when things changed.
Carlin is married to Kane County Assistant Public Defender Cecily Carlin, and the couple have a 14-month-old daughter, Elsie.
While his job in film distribution gives him an insight into independent films that everyone knows, Carlin also hopes AfterImage surprises people.
"Film festivals are also about finding those hidden gems, and being blown away," Carlin says. "You walk out and say, 'I have to tell all my friends about that.'"
AfterImage festivalWhere: Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18 Theatre, 3740 E. Main St., St. Charles
When: Friday through Sunday, Oct. 22-24
Tickets: $12 per film, with four films for $36 and all-festival pass for $89
COVID-19 rules: Proof of vaccination, masks and social distancing are required, and theaters will be limited to 70% of capacity