Festival celebrates seven years of international movies, music


Courtesy of Nick Hahn

Singer/songwriter Todd Snider will be playing a sold-out show at the City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., as a part of CIMMfest, which runs April 16-19 in Logan Square and Wicker Park.

By Arts & Culture Reporter

For decades, music and movies have been a vital part of Chicago’s cultural scene. The Chicago International Movies and Music Festival works to celebrate the two art forms each year through its four-day event.

CIMMfest will host its seventh annual showcase April 16–19 on Chicago’s Northwest side in the Logan Square and Wicker Park neighborhoods.

CIMMfest showcases films and music that exhibit how the two art forms work together in an integral way. Gary Kuzminski, CIMMfest’s marketing director and an adjunct advertising and public relations professor at Columbia, said the festival is a celebration attempting to find points within music and movies that inspire deep conversations about worldwide topics.

“A beautiful part about film is that it expresses the human condition,” Kuzminski said. “The interesting thing is that we all share the same themes across the globe. One story that may be in Cambodia that’s from a whole other culture and time is something we can use to reflect on our situation here. It speaks to our commonalities.”

When programming for the festival began last August, organizers did not seek films or bands that fell under a certain theme, Kuzminski said. A theme for the festival is inspired organically each year in the fall when CIMMfest starts receiving submissions, Kuzminski said.

“This year, we have five or six films that have African music themes, all from different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Kuzminski said. “[Each film] speaks to specific experiences. We can never really be in charge, themes just emerge.”

More than 99 films and bands will be shown during the four-day festival. One of the films Kuzminski is most excited for is “808: The Movie,” which documents the history of the TR-808 drum machine and how it shaped the music industry. Alex Noyer, the executive producer of “808: The Movie,” said the inspiration for the film came when he realized how the Roland TR-808 drum machine had singlehandedly altered music when it was created in 1980. 

“The 808 is in everything,” Noyer said. “It gets name dropped by Britney Spears [in her song ‘Break the Ice’] and Kanye West named one of his most successful albums after the 808. This is how big of a cultural influence it is, and for a machine that almost disappeared a few years after its creation, it’s something worth celebrating.”

“808: The Movie” was screened at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on March 13 and will now be brought to the big screen at CIMMfest. After working on the screened at different festivals stirs up all kinds of emotions, Noyer said.

“It’s a weird experience [seeing the film screenings] because when you see it out there, it’s like seeing your child in their first school play,” Noyer said. “It’s really exciting and you kind of have every emotion going through your head.”

Noyer said he hopes CIMMfest’s audience has an immersive experience while watching the film. 

“Our film is a legacy piece, it’s a love letter to the 808,” Noyer said. “We want to inspire people to continue this cultural movement of the 808.”