Giving green light to buildings, jobs

By mlekovic

AFTER classes are over and summer is in full effect, the Mayor’s Office of Special Events will host its annual six-week Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park.

Throughout July and August, the Mayor’s Office of Special Events will be playing seven movies: Sunset Boulevard, Duck Soup, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Born Yesterday, Psycho, Young Mr. Lincoln and Tootsie. The screenings are free and open to the public.

“The movies are chosen from a database of titles that is put together over the years from suggestions from members of the public and people working directly with the festival,” said Kathy Byrne, coordinator of the film festival.

“Each year we look at that database and pick movies that jump out,” Byrne said. “Paul Newman died in 2008, and we want to honor him. Also, it is former President Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday.”

To honor the two men, festival program coordinators selected to show Young Mr. Lincoln and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Movies will not be rescheduled if they are canceled, but extreme circumstances would have to occur before a movie is canceled, Byrne said.

“… If it rains and the park is flooded, or if there is a high security risk, we will cancel the showings; otherwise, we won’t,” Byrne said.

The movies will be displayed on a large screen every Tuesday from July 14 to August 25, located in Grant Park’s Butler Field. The films will usually begin around sunset.

During the period when movies are not being played, public groups are allowed to rent the screen, for a hefty price, and play their own movies, which have to be approved by the festival coordinators.

Not only will the screen be available to whoever decides to rent it, but event staff will be provided for security reasons,  set-up help and assistance.

Leila Said, a Chicago resident, said she goes to the festival each year and watches at least three movies.

“If I’m in Chicago during the festival, I make sure I am in Grant Park,” Said said. “My friends and I gather and barbeque before the film starts.”

The two restrictions the festival committee has are no dogs allowed and no alcohol.

“Obviously, no illegal substances are allowed in the park,” Byrne said. “We try to keep everyone safe.”

This year, for the first time in the festival’s history, there will be numerous prizes, such as free hotel stays, given away after some of the showings. The prizes are given to attract a larger audience of all ages to join the festivities in the park and watch the movies.

“The Essex Inn, which is giving away the ‘Room with a View,’ will also provide the winner with a picnic dinner at the film. They also get two tickets to the Hancock Observatory,” Byrne said.

On the closing night of the festival, 10 ticket prizes will be given out for The Second City’s improv version of Tootsie. Also, tickets will be given to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield on the night Young Mr. Lincoln will be shown.

The film festival will draw audiences ranging from 18 years old to around 40, Byrne said.

A lot of students won’t be able to make it to the film festival when they go back home for the summer, but some who are staying are excited to see the films.

Alen Pale, a student at Northeastern Illinois University, said he plans to catch all seven showings.

“I’ll have to request some days off work, but it will be totally worth it,” Pale said.

Sunset Boulevard will be the opening night movie on July 14. Duck Soup will be shown on July 21. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof will be shown on July 28. Born Yesterday will be played on Aug. 4.  Psycho will be shown on Aug. 11. Young Mr. Lincoln will be shown on Aug. 18. To bring the festival to a close, Tootise will be shown on Aug. 25.

For more information on the Film Festival in Chicago, visit and for more information about the Mayor’s Office of Sepcial Events, visit