'Icarus' tonight at the Davis; Doc10 festival arrives in early April

Michael Phillips | February 22, 2018 | Chicago Tribune

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Every April, in a city packed with film festivals up and down the food chain, one of Chicago’s most valuable pocket-sized offerings puts a handful of nonfiction films before the public and lets the truths fall where they may.

“Doc10” is the name, now in its third year. It makes its home at the renovated Davis Theater in Lincoln Square. And tonight, Chicago Media Project presents a special preview event “Dinner & Docs @ the Davis,” featuring a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Icarus,” a huge success a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival.

You can see this lauded Netflix Originals acquisition for as little as $5, if you pass on the family-style dinner beforehand at the Davis’s next-door neighbor, the Carbon Arc bar and restaurant. (Fantastic chicken and mac and cheese, among other things, as I mention every time I type the words “Carbon Arc.”)

With Russian doping scandals continuing apace, “Icarus” couldn’t be more timely. Filmmaker Bryan Fogel started out making one kind of documentary, in which he subjected himself to a doping regimen in pursuit of a first-person cine-essay. Then he met Grigory Rodchenkov, a key figure in Russia’s alleged “anti-doping” program. The movie Fogel needed to pursue instead, involving a wide range of state-sponsored corruption and winning at any cost, emerged en route to completion.

The titles for Doc10 ‘18 will be announced tonight as part of the “Icarus” presentation, which is also scheduled to include a Skype interview with the film’s producer Dan Cogan. In person, Dina Smeltz, a Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, joins Doc10 programmer Anthony Kaufman for a discussion.

Here are the films to be screened April 5-8.

“306 Hollywood” (U.S.). To grandmother’s house they go: filmmakers Elan and Jonathan Bogarin decided to treat their late grandmother’s home and belongings as a scientific and cultural excavation, with the help of an archaeologist, a physicist and a fashion conservator.

“Bisbee ‘17” (U.S.). In 1917, 1,200 miners in Bisbee, Ariz., went on strike and paid for it with the forced evacuation from their homes. Robert Greene’s doc combines wry staged reenactments of the bizarre events, as performed by contemporary Bisbee citizens, with a portrait of one particular Latino resident and his political awakening.

“Crime + Punishment” (U.S.). Filmmaker Steven Maing follows a brave handful of NYPD minority police officers as they fight back against the worst abuses of the system to which they belong.

"Devil’s Freedom” (Mexico). Everyday survivors of Mexico’s drug wars reveal the effects of living in constant danger. Director Everardo González protects the identities of his subjects by having them wear skull-like masks.

“The King” (U.S./Germany/France). Eugene Jarecki hits the road in Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls-Royce, for a traveling examination of Elvis’ rise, fall and eternal fame.

“Love Means Zero” (U.S.). A portrait of tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, who brought out the fiercest instincts in Andre Agassi, Venus and Serena Williams and many others. Were his tactics worth it?

“Minding the Gap” (U.S.). From Kartemquin Films, Bing Liu’s exploration of young men making the best of their Rockford, Ill., lives and times won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking at this year’s Sundance.

“On Her Shoulders” (U.S.). Sundance best director winner Alexandria Bombach turns her camera toward Northern Iraq and activist Nadia Murad. U.S. 2018. 94 min.

“The Other Side of Everything” (Serbia/France/Qatar). A mother/daughter movie with a difference: Filmmaker Mila Turajlic and her Serbian activist mother, Srbijanka Turajlic, take this documentary to the intersection of personal and political struggle.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (U.S.). As Doc10 programmer Kaufman wrote in his Sundance coverage for indiewire.com: “Who would have thought that a Republican cardigan-wearing Presbyterian-trained minister with a message of tolerance and civility could be our best response to the current President?” Morgan Neville (“20 Feet from Stardom”) tells the story of Fred Rogers and his TV neighborhood beloved by millions.

Dinner & Docs at the Davis: “Icarus,” Thursday, 6 p.m. dinner at Carbon Arc restaurant, 7:15 p.m. screening. Tickets for movie only, $5; $40 for dinner and the movie. For more information go to Eventbrite.com.

Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.