The 11th Lake County Film Festival will be celebrating its longest film festival yet, with twelve days of in-person films November 4 – 15, and twelve days of our online virtual festival November 18 – 29. Today we are announcing the first twenty features chosen for the 2021 Lake County Film Festival.

Opening night of the 2021 Lake County Film Festival will be held at the John & Nancy Hughes Theater at the Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest, IL, followed by over 100 screenings during the next 10 days at The College Of Lake County in Grayslake, IL. “Last year’s virtual festival highlighted just how integral the college is to the film festival”, said festival director Nat Dykeman. “Having all of these facilities under one roof makes the festival much more feasible.” Ali O’Brien, Vice President of Community & Workforce Partnerships at CLC, expressed that “the college is looking forward to hosting the festival as part of our commitment to grow and support cultural enrichment across the county. The LCFF is a great example of partnering together to celebrate the arts, local talent, and independent films.”

The festival has a new screening venue this year at Three Brothers Theatre in Waukegan. Three Brothers will be hosting almost forty additional screenings from November 5 – 15. “We’re excited to host the Lake County Film Festival at Three Brothers Theatre in Waukegan”, Josh Beadle, executive director of Three Brothers Theater said, “and we are honored to serve as another screening venue in Lake County for this important event.  It has been a dream for us for years to bring a film festival to Waukegan and this offers an even better opportunity to partner with an established and growing event that connects all of the County together.  The slate of movies this year will make you think, make you feel, and entertain you all week long.”

Of local interest are documentary features from Chicago & Milwaukee. A Tiny Ripple Of Hope follows local organizer Jahmal Cole as he struggles to help teenagers on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Cole recently launched a congressional bid for 2022. When Claude Got Shot follows the ramifications of a shooting during a carjacking in Milwaukee. Local narratives include the SXSW film Our Father and the mysterious Cecily And Lydia At The Waypoint.

New this year is our program of music-related films, which features documentaries and narratives, titled Rockin’ The Suburbs, from the Ben Folds song of the same name. This year’s program features Bad Animal, a Chicago-set narrative about Sembré, a rising music star deciding where to take his career next, The Fable Of A Song, about folk duo The Young FablesForeverMoore, about Fishbone’s dynamic lead singer Angelo Moore, and more.

The first twenty films selected for the 2021 Lake County Film Festival are:

Documentary Features

A Sexplanation (d. Alexander Liu)
Failed by an American sex education system that stigmatized and condemned instead of being informive and supporting, Alex Liu grew up with fear and loathing instead of healthy curiosity. Now 36 years old and out of the closet, Alex seeks to right the wrongs of this misguidedmiseducation, uncovering the naked truth about sex through conversations with neuroscientists, psychologists, researchers, and even a Jesuit priest! A Sexplanation is a playful, heartfelt look at transforming the trauma of the past into a healthy, happy future.

A Tiny Ripple Of Hope (d. Jason Polevoi)

Jahmal Cole is the confident and charismatic leader of My Block, My Hood, My City: an organization that brings hope and opportunity to teenagers across Chicago’s segregated South and West Sides. Away from the spotlight of his important work though, Jahmal is in the fight of his life as he battles to keep his home out of foreclosure, his marriage alive, and himself out of harm’s way.

Guinea Pig Diaries (d. Olympia Stone & Suzanne Mitchell)

Guinea Pig Diaries shows us firsthand the special bond between humans and their pet guinea pigs, revealing stories much more compelling than we could have ever imagined. Our relationship with this small furry animal has been part of the “domesticated pet” culture for centuries. But it is through this unique film that audiences get a rare and unfiltered look into the lives of this often-misunderstood rodent and the interesting people who adore them, breed them, show them, and rescue them. Through each of these personal stories we reveal that it is in fact the guinea pigs who often liberate and heal the souls of the very people who believed their purpose was to care for these small and wondrous creatures.

Missing In Brooks County (d. Lisa Molomot & Jeff Bemiss)

Just 70 miles north of the Mexican-US border is a land haunted by ghosts. Brooks County, Texas is a barren landscape designed as a deterrent to illegal crossings, but people continue to attempt to cross, and many die trying. The municipality lacks the resources to properly deal with this sad reality, and the numbers keep rising. Multiple locals proffer contrasting opinions as two families search for their loved ones, and the toll of an unsustainable immigration policy is laid bare.

United States vs. Reality Winner (d. Sonia Kennebeck)
A state of secrets and a ruthless hunt for whistleblowers – this is the story of 25-year-old NSA contractor Reality Winner who disclosed a document about Russian election interference to the media and became the number one leak target of the Trump administration.

When Claude Got Shot (d. Brad Lichtenstein)
When Claude Got Shot follows five years in the life of Claude Motley as he tries to recover mentally and physically from being shot in the face by 15-year-old carjacker, Nathan King. The day after shooting Claude, Nathan was shot and paralyzed by Victoria Davison who used a conceal-and-carry gun to stop his attempt to rob her. With Claude’s journey at the center, three strikingly unique experiences of gun violence, justice and healing unfold.

A striver seeking to get back on track with his legal career, Claude persists through multiple surgeries, catastrophic health care bills and trauma that affects him and his family. All the while he and his wife remain engaged in the criminal justice process determining his shooter’s fate. Torn between punishment and the injustice of mass incarceration of young black men, Claude reflects on his own life and its similarity to Nathan’s. Ultimately, Claude discovers that the path to healing leads back to the boy who shot him.

Yes I Am (d. Aaron Bear)
Narrated by Zachary Quinto, the story of Ric Weiland’s life and legacy can be measured in incredible milestones. As one of the first employees at Microsoft, he became wealthy and influential at an early age. Out and proud since the 70’s, Ric was a champion of gay rights. During his life, he donated more than 20 million dollars to fund more than 60 non-profit organizations. Despite his personal struggles and early demise, his efforts to establish representation and resources for the LGBT community still have a profound impact today. Director Aaron Bear has crafted a fitting tribute to one of America’s great philanthropists.

Narrative Features

A Beautiful Curse (d. Martin Garde Abildgaard)
– A whole island affected by an unexplainable sleep phenomenon is closed off from the mainland. Photographer Samuel heads there undetected to document the events, whereupon he finds Stella deep in slumber, and his attraction grows. He soon discovers the sleep affliction is more dangerous and personal than he expected.

A Shot Through The Wall (d. Aimee Long) 

After shooting an innocent African American man in Brooklyn, Mike Tan, a Chinese American cop, wades through his guilt as he attempts to navigate the intricate and complicated worlds of media, justice, and racial politics in modern day New York.

Cecily & Lydia At The Waypoint (d. Juliette Strangio) 

On a lush, but lonely earth, Cecily walks. Alone in her house, Lydia waits. One balmy afternoon, the two women meet.

Our Father (d. Bradley Grant Smith)
Beta (Baize Buzan) and Zelda (Allison Torem) don’t have much in common, but after their father’s suicide the one thing holding them together is a shared desire to find their uncle Jerry (Austin Pendleton), a “religious nut” who vanished thirty years ago. A comedic odyssey in an intimate package, OUR FATHER is an occasionally mournful look at how, in our desire to be taken care of, we sometimes forget to take care of each other.

planet B234 (d. Keelie Sheridan)
A father thousands of miles away from his son creates an alternate world to help him cope with the anxiety, depression, and desperation of separation. The imagination perseveres, but sometimes at the cost of reality.

See You Next Christmas (d. Christine Weatherup)
Annie and Tom Clark throw a holiday party every year, “Clarkmas.” Over the years, it’s become the go-to holiday event for their ragtag group of friends. When chronically single Natalie and Logan continue to run into each other at the party year after year, they begin to wonder if maybe they’re meant to be together…

Voodoo Macbeth (d. Agazi Desta, Dagmawi Abebe, Victor Alonso-Berbel, Roy Arwas, Hannah Bang, Christopher Beaton, Tiffany Kontoyiannis, Zoe Salnave, Ernesto Sandoval, Sabina Vajraca)
1936 Harlem is a neighborhood battered by economic strife and hardship. With FDR’s New Deal providing funding for the Federal Theatre Project’s Negro Unit, director Rose McClendon convinces co-director John Houseman to help her bring Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” to the Harlem community at the Lafayette Theater — with an all-Black cast. They choose for their groundbreaking production a gifted but untested 21-year-old director by the name of Orson Welles, whose reimagined Haitian vision for the Scottish play is as daring and fresh as the cast and crew themselves.

Rockin’ The Suburbs Selections

Bad Animal
 (d. Remsy Atassi)
Sembré (Mykele Deville) is a rising star in the Chicago music scene. His first record, “Bad Animal”, was a critical and commercial success. Marlene (Rivkah Reyes – School Of Rock, Monuments LCFF2020), a talented indie artist in her own right, is Sembré’s manager. Everything changes when a new producer shows up with a major record deal, forcing Marlene and Sembré to confront their past while navigating fame in the underground Chicago music scene.

The Fable Of A Song (d. Andy Strohl)

Where do songs come from? How does a song get written? Laurel Wright and Wes Lunsford are songwriters determined to make it big in Nashville, alongside thousands of talented musicians. Manager Patryk Larney decides to shoot some footage of Laurel, Wes, and co-writer Dean Fields to use for a short social media video and entrusts the editing process to good friend and filmmaker, Andy Strohl. Before one frame can be edited, Wes and Laurel’s lives change in the blink of an eye.

Three years later the entire tragic story is finally told by weaving the footage from the cowriting sessions, archival film and interviews with songwriters, musicians, and thinkers. A song can become something much more different than the writer’s intent. This is the story of The Young Fables, and this is The Fable of a Song.

ForeverMoore: The Angelo Project (d. Tisa Zito)
Angelo Moore is the dynamic singer, saxophonist, and theremin player who is best known for his work with Fishbone, the black rock group that has played with or influenced everyone from Little Richard, Curtis Mayfield, and George Clinton to No Doubt, Beastie Boys, Jane’s Addiction, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Blessed with a seemingly unlimited amount of energy, Angelo spends his time away from Fishbone performing music eponymously, performing spoken word, publishing poetry, and creating visual art.

Through both amusing thought and politically charged poetic wanderings, we follow Angelo Moore through his daily inspirations and struggles. Angelo is continuously learning how to manage everything it takes to be “successfully” creative. We learn of his history and what lies behind the words he finds himself writing late at night. We see that the joy of making music is truly his contribution to the world.

Los Hermanos (d. Ken Schneider & Marcia Jarmel)

Virtuoso Afro-Cuban-born brothers—violinist Ilmar and pianist Aldo—live on opposite sides of a geopolitical chasm a half-century wide. Tracking their parallel lives in New York and Havana, their poignant reunion, and their momentous first performances together, Los Hermanos/The Brothers offers a nuanced, often startling view of estranged nations through the lens of music and family.

Featuring an electrifying, genre-bending score, composed by Cuban Aldo López-Gavilán, performed with his American brother, Ilmar, and with guest appearances by maestro Joshua Bell and the Harlem Quartet.

Out Loud (d. Gail Willumsen)

Out Loud chronicles the first season of the historic Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, the largest group of transgender and gender nonconforming people who sing together anywhere in the world. Led by Lindsey Deaton, who co-founded the chorus and served as its first artistic director, these choristers, many of whom have no musical training, come together to hone their craft and find their voices. Some choristers have the added challenge of coping with changes to their vocal range as they take hormones to transition. The stakes are high for all as they prepare for their public concert debut in this inspiring story of an extraordinary choir.

Sing To Me Sylvie (d. Jannette Bloom)
Former bandmates Sylvie and David run into each other on the street in their hometown of Portland. They were close childhood friends who started a band and tried to make it in LA ten years ago, but that all blew up and they haven’t spoken to each other since. David is now living on the street in order to focus on music and not have to work a day job. Sylvie has given up music and is married, living in a house in the suburbs.

While her husband is out of town, she offers David a place to stay for three days, and the two of them reconnect. Having survived a traumatic childhood, Sylvie’s been in the habit of numbing herself to life, both the good and the bad, something that David, though he was there for her when they were kids, cannot ever understand. David chips away at her refusal to play music and they are soon playing together again, but their emotional connection to each other, tied to the music, begins to resurface. Sylvie must now choose between the security of her current life, or the turbulent life of an artist.


For further information contact:
The Lake County Film Festival
(224) 544-9261

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