The Gene Siskel Film Center is nothing short of a local treasure. It is the kind of non-commercial movie theater for which people in other cities long, and we have it. Boasting a varied calendar, great facilities and an easily accessible location, the Center is one of those venues to count on when nothing else sounds appealing; odds are that something great is about to screen there.
There are two theaters, a big guy with a seating capacity of 197 and a little one for 61 viewers, and both are tricked out with state-of-the- art equipment to ensure great image and sound. While many cinemas tend toward the extremes of run down and grungy or clinically antiseptic, this space is bright and inviting, striking a balance between art-house hovel and megaplex. The schedule is packed with wonderful films that you already know, are on your list of stuff to see before you die or undiscovered gems.
The programming runs the gamut and frequently draws upon native knowledge, with area professors and media luminaries guest curating. Ongoing series include "Conversations at the Edge," Thursday night screenings and discussions presented in association with the Department of Film, Video and New Media of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and "Music Movies," smart documentaries about cool music that you won't see elsewhere.
Tickets are available at the box office or through Ticketmaster, and cost $9; it shaves a bit off for Film Center members ($5), students ($7) and students, faculty and staff of the Art Institute ($4). Annual memberships run $45-$75 with perks including a free subscription to the Film Center Gazette and discounted tickets to films and lecture series. Not one to ignore the importance of candy at the movies, there is a good and modestly priced selection of concessions at the cafe.
Centerstage Reviewer: Roni Shapira