Illinois films in spotlight at independent film festival

  • A man reunites with his estranged, transgender father as they journey to scatter his late mother's ashes off the Georgia coast in director Timothy Hall's "Landlocked."

    A man reunites with his estranged, transgender father as they journey to scatter his late mother's ashes off the Georgia coast in director Timothy Hall's "Landlocked." Courtesy of Firelight Productions

Updated 7/20/2021 11:21 AM

The 11th annual Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival returns with nightly screenings of the festival's 2021 official selection films, running July 24-30 at Chicago Filmmakers, 1326 W. Hollywood Ave., Chicago.

Blue Whiskey will present more than 30 films with character-driven stories from around the globe during the in-person event, including seven outstanding indie films made by local Illinois filmmakers.


Each night of the 2021 festival includes a unique collection of short films and is headlined by one of seven feature-length independent films. Blue Whiskey opens on Saturday, July 24, at 7 p.m., with Director Timothy Hall's feature drama "Landlocked," about a man who reunites with his estranged, transgender father, played by Chicago-based actress Delia Kropp in her feature film debut.

A spooky British thriller, "Ribblehead," headlines a horror-themed program Thursday, July 29, at 7 p.m. In "Ribblehead," a horror novelist draws inspiration from a strange locale in Yorkshire, England, for his next book, but as he learns more about the site's dark history, he begins to have nightmarish experiences and confuse reality from fantasy.

A pair of Chicago filmmakers, Travis Chandler and Daniel Greenstone, who also teach history and documentary film at the Francis W. Parker School on Chicago's North Side, will screen their feature documentary "Far Out West" at the festival at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 28.

Chandler and Greenstone interviewed former members of California's Kerista Commune, who share their experiences from the utopian community that offered communal living, multiple sexual partners and even a highly successful Apple computer sales business.

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Blue Whiskey will screen a diverse selection of 27 short films during the weeklong event. Among the selected short films is King Jaquell Martin and Deante Gray's topical and personal film, "A War on Friendly Grounds," screening July 27 at 7 p.m. It is based on the true story of a Black U.S. Armed Forces veteran who was assaulted by a police officer in 2005 after returning home from serving overseas.

Illinois-made short films featured in the 2021 festival include Kyle Anne Grendys' documentary short "Fraser Syndrome & Me," screening at 7 p.m. July 27, and screenwriter Isais Perez's narrative short, "The Audition," screening at 7 p.m. July 28.

Grendys, a filmmaker from Gurnee, is the 75th person to be born with a recessive gene disorder called Fraser Syndrome. In her film, she documents her first time meeting and interviewing other individuals who share her rare condition.

Perez's "The Audition" follows an aspiring Latino actor through a series of Chicago casting calls as he struggles to get a callback, revealing the bias and stereotypes that Latinos face in film and television.


The complete festival schedule includes films from across the country and the globe, with foreign language selections this year from India, Taiwan, Lebanon, and more.

For tickets, event information and a complete schedule of the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival, visit

Nightly sessions run from 7 to 10:30 p.m. at Chicago Filmmakers, 1326 W. Hollywood Ave., in Chicago.

General admission tickets are $15 and provide entry to all films in the session. The seven-day event has been made possible through the aid of supporting sponsors Nicholas & Associates of Mount Prospect and Foxhole Creative of Chicago.

Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival is a not-for-profit organization based out of Palatine that seeks out independently produced cinema by bold and innovative filmmakers that utilize story elements in a new and exciting way, presenting character-driven, independent cinema fueled by the filmmaker's passion for the craft without studio support.

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