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European Union Film Festival Hits Chicago

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by

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Movies in the United States are getting a bit homogeneous. Every month it’s another superhero, sequel, or remake film. I mean how many “Fast and Furious” films do we really need? Take a break from all that, and explore the world of European cinema at the European Union Film Festival.

The Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes the 18th Annual European Union Film Festival where 27 of the Union’s nations are represented in the 61 films that are premiering in Chicago for the first time. It is a great opportunity to get a feel of the vast and diverse culture that spreads across the continent. Here are some films you don’t want to miss.

France in the 1990s was exploding with electronic music that has truly influenced the world even though many don’t know it. “Eden” is directed by Mia Hansen-Løve and is inspired by the exploits, trials, and tribulations of her brother Sven Hansen-Løve, who was a successful DJ and also co-screenwriter on the film. The film covers the rise of the Garage sound, electronic music with more soul, and it’s decline and how the main character, Paul, deals with the trend roller coaster. Of course, being about ’90s French electronic music the popular duo Daft Punk is well represented in the film with their music and funny running gag.

In “Phoenix” Nelly Lenz is an Auschwitz survivor who had to have facial reconstruction surgery due to getting shot and is returning to Berlin in search for her husband. When she finds him they both suspend belief as he doesn’t recognize her and she doesn’t suspect any motives from him. What motives you ask? Well, I’m not going to ruin this post-WWII thriller that will definitely keep you on your toes.

If you’re a fan of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” which is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, then don’t miss “Shirley: Visions of Reality.” Austrian avant-garde filmmaker Gustav Deutsch brings 13 iconic Hopper paintings to life through a loose narrative that does its best to capture the artworks’ essence.

When you’re doing a film about one of the world’s most influential filmmakers  you have a lot to live up to and Ettore Scola does that with “How Strange to be Named Federico.” Scola tells the life story of Federico Fellini in the most appropriate way  by using many of Fellini’s techniques and style to cover everything from his time working at “Marc’Aurelio” to filming “Nights of Cabiria.” Scola, a colleague of the late Fellini, creates a deeply personal tribute of the great filmmaker.

The European Union Film Festival runs until April 2 at the Gene Siskel Film Center located at 164 N. State St. For tickets and a schedule visit siskelfilmcenter.org/eufilmfest2015.

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Chowdah Fest 2015

Posted on March 24th, 2015 by

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Mother Nature has done a dirty tricky by making us believe Spring was here and then out of no where dumping five inches of snow on us. However, we will not be discouraged because we know the Sun will be back and until then we have Chowdah Fest to keep us warm.

Expect a few delicious mouthfuls at Chowdah Fest 2015. The festival is looking to crown the “Best Chowdah in Town” for the fifth year. Some of the city’s best chefs will prepare chowder for 250 people who will taste all different kinds of seafood chowder. The chefs that will be fighting for people’s votes are 2014 Winner, Leonard Hollander, Patrick Sheerin of Trenchermen, Ryan McCaskey of Acadia, Chrissy Camba of Maddy’s Dumpling House, Brian Jupiter of Frontier, Johnny
Anderes of The Kitchen, CJ Callahan of Hopleaf, Brian Key of Hugo’s Frog Bar, Dirk and
Terry Fucik of Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet, Jeff and Rob Mazza of New England Seafood Co., J Hart Wolf of da Lobsta, Adam Grandt of Vincent, Arnie Tellez of Shaw’s Crab House, Marita Tantivirasut of Bites Asian Tapas, and Vince Cassidy of Horse Thief Brewery in Beverly.

Of course, the most appropriate setting for Chowdah Fest 2015 would be the Columbia Yacht Club Ship. Visiting the 372-foot long, 7000-ton MV Abegweit is an event in itself and the Chowdah Fest is the cherry on top. Proceeds from the event will go to the Sea Scouts youth sailing program.

Chowdah Fest 2015 will take place Monday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbia Yacht Club located at 111 North Lake Shore Drive. For more information visit chowdahfest.com.

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Ireland Arrives at Art Institute of Chicago

Posted on March 24th, 2015 by

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St. Patrick’s Day may be long gone, but Ireland has always been more integrated into this country and this city than just a one-day celebration. It is extremely evident in the Art Institute of Chicago’s (AIC) newest exhibit “Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690–1840.”

If you want to know how ingrained Ireland culture is than look no further than the 10,000 – 15,000 sq. feet exhibit filled with more than 300 Irish objects lent to AIC explicitly from North American private and public collectors. The exhibit is divided into 10 galleries that showcase Irish portraits, musical instruments, silver, guns, furniture, and more. Having this collection of fine and decorative arts from the 18th century not only paints a complete picture of the European island during that time period, but it is the first time it has been done anywhere in the world.

The exhibit is expansive enough to where someone can spend a couple of days just exploring, but for those who don’t have enough time there are some must-see pieces. Viewers will be greeted by giant 10,000-year-old Irish elk antlers that were actually hanging in the offices of the American College of Surgeons here in Chicago. There are also some firsts featured in the exhibit such as an upright piano, which was invented in Ireland, and work from Henrietta de Beaulieu Dering Johnston, who is both Ireland and America’s first known female painter. In many instances the viewer will realize that the exhibit focuses as much on art and aesthetics as well as history making it a great draw for people infatuated with both subjects.

“Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690–1840″ will be on view through June 7 at the Art Institute of Chicago located at 111 S. Michigan Ave. For more information visit artic.edu/ireland-crossroads-art-and-design-1690-1840.

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Lincoln Park Conservatory Spring Flower Show

Posted on March 18th, 2015 by

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Tired of gardens, flowers, and trees? Of course not because we’ve spent so many months living in a barren snow-pocalypse. So take every opportunity to enjoy the bloom.

The Lincoln Park Conservatory is back with their Spring Flower Show that will get you in the right spirit for the season. The star of the show are the azaleas, which are the direct descendants of the azaleas featured in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Along with the azaleas, the show features spring flowering annuals and spring flowering perennials. Even if your not the biggest garden fan it’s always worth a trip to the conservatory for the constant 75-degree temperature inside. It doesn’t get any more spring than that.

The Spring Flower Show runs until May 10, 2015 at the Lincoln Park Conservatory located at 2391 N. Stockton Dr. For more information visit chicagoparkdistrict.com/events/2015-spring-flower-show-at-lincoln-conservatory.

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2015 Chicago Beer Festival

Posted on March 18th, 2015 by

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Oh, you thought you were going to take a break this weekend from drinking to recover from the St. Patrick’s Day madness. Too bad, because the Chicago Beer Festival is back.

With over 50 breweries, this Spring’s Chicago Beer Festival will have a lot to offer. Here’s your chance to get the taste of that awful green-dyed beer out of your mouth and give your palate some relief with quality beers.

This is a perfect opportunity to get a taste of what the Midwest has to offer in brews. If you’re having a tough time picking while you’re there, below are some regional favorites you don’t want to miss:

  • Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • Ale Syndicate
  • Founders Brewing Company
  • Finch’s Beer Co.
  • Bell’s Brewery
  • Vice District Brewing Co.
  • Pig Minds
  • Bucket List Brewing

The 2015 Chicago Beer Festival will take place Saturday, March 21 at Union Station located at 210 S Canal St. Tickets are $40 for a four-hour session from 1 – 4 p.m. or 6 – 9 p.m. For more information visit thechicagobeerfestival.com.

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3 Must-See Performances This Weekend

Posted on March 18th, 2015 by

Is anyone else wailing their hands like Kermit the frog with this beautiful weather? Ok, maybe I’m the only one, but one of the reasons I love this time of year is because there is always so much to do and see and great artists love coming to the city now to take advantage of the weather. Here are three you need to see.

For a great date night make sure to see Citizen Cope at City Winery for an intimate acoustic set. The singer-songwriter has been giving the world song after song for years with his raspy, soothing voice with a folk and hip hop backdrop. So be prepared to be whisked away in many of Citizen Cope’s beautiful tales.
Citizen Cope
City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St.
March 19, 20, 22, 23, and 24


Look, Maroon 5 and Adam Levine aren’t going anywhere. They’re on your TV, constantly playing on your radio, and apparently now they are crashing your weddings. Just accept it, dance, and try and constantly fail at trying to reach Levine’s pitch. For those who aren’t a fan of their pop hits don’t count Maroon 5 out. They’ll show their real chops as this band started as what easily could have been a Stevie Wonder backing band.
Maroon 5
United Center, 1901 W. Madison St.
March 19


Television is going through an animation renaissance with a great lineup of shows that match up to the hilarity of “The Simpsons,” and one of those shows is “Bob’s Burgers.” The cast that portrays the burger-flipping family will be at The Chicago Theatre putting on a live version of the show with a live table read, individual stand ups, audience Q&A, songs, and more.
Bob’s Burgers Live
The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.
March 20

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Serious Wine & Serious Fun at Navy Pier

Posted on March 17th, 2015 by

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Pinot Days Chicago
 offers wine enthusiasts the chance to visit with 65 wineries as they paint the town pinot at Navy Pier from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on March 21.

This celebration of hundreds of pinots is the largest and most expansive meeting of Pinot Noir producers in the world. This festival is the greatest opportunity for wine lovers in Chicago and all over the Midwest to take pleasure in the magic of this thin-skinned, dark purple grape.

Held at the stunning Lakeview Terrace, this fine tasting experience will allow you to take advantage of the stunning view of Chicago’s skyline over Lake Michigan while you enjoy great wine and company in an intimate setting. The trade tasting takes place from noon to 2 p.m. with the public tasting running from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $75 for the festival and $125 for VIP tastings and seminars.

Click here to view the current list of participating wineries. Purchase tickets here.

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Two Must-Attend Beer Events this Weekend

Posted on March 11th, 2015 by

It may not be St. Patrick’s Day just yet, but you should still get your liver ready for the madness that is about to happen. These two beer event will definitely give you a head start.

 

1010147_793265060747514_5435043449865799233_nMost people tend to think doing a multiple-course dinner is better suited for wine than beer due to beer being too filling. Well Atlas Brewing Company is about to prove you wrong with their Barrel Smoked Beer Dinner. You can thank Atlas’ new smoker for its smoked brisket with root vegetable puree paired with their Triceratops Rodeo IPA; beef crepinette with bacon tomato jam and aged cheddar paired with their Diversey Pale Ale; and the smoked Nutella crepe brulee paired with their Intemporelle Abbey-Style Quadruppel, among other menu items.
Atlas Brewing Company Barrel Smoked Dinner
March 12 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets on sale until March 11.
Tickets: $45
2747 N. Lincoln Ave.

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Revolution Brewing is synonymous with Chicago craft brewing and has made a lasting imprint with brews like the Anti-Hero IPA. They’ll be celebrating their 5th anniversary with a huge blowout concert that will feature party animal Andrew W.K., The Orwells, Beer Nuts, and the Superfriends DJs. Enjoy Anti-Hero IPA, Bottom Up Wit, Eugene Porter, A Little Crazy, 5th Year Beer (a limited, draft-only IPA with Mandarina hops), Straight Jacket, Bean Gene, Deth’s Tar, Jukebox Hero, Local Hero, Galaxy Hero, Small ‘n Oats, and Uncalled Four all for $4 each.
Revolution Brewing Fifth Anniversary Party at the Riviera Theatre
March 13 at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $27.50
4746 N. Racine Ave.

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Big Ten Tournament Returns to Chicago

Posted on March 11th, 2015 by

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We’re only a few days away from the big dance, and all the college conferences are having tournaments where teams are trying to prove that they belong in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. One of those tournaments is returning to Chicago.

The Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament has expanded to a five day tournament as the University of Maryland and Rutgers joined the conference this year making the action even more interesting. The star right now is Wisconsin, which will be fighting for a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament by trying to dominate this weekend. However, they will have to defeat Rutgers and Maryland who gave Wisconsin their two conference losses. Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, and Ohio State will likely make it to March Madness as well. Yet, Indiana, Purdue, and Illinois will have a lot of work to do during the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament as they sit on the bubble.

If you want to represent your school then join the Big Ten 3X3 Alumni Basketball Tournament. Just grab three of your fellow alumni buddies and crash the boards on Daley Plaza against other teams trying to prove which Big Ten school is the best. In addition, you can take a break from the action at the Official Big Ten VIP/Alumni Party being held in the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom and enjoy food, drinks, live entertainment, spirit squads, and more.

The Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament will run March 11 – 15 at the United Center located at 1901 W. Madison St. The Big Ten 3X3 Alumni Basketball Tournament will kick off March 13 at Daley Plaza located at 50 W. Washington St. The Official Big Ten VIP/Alumni Party is March 14 at the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom locates at 600 E. Grand Ave. For more information on the tournament and surrounding activities visit bigten.org/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/101014aad.html.

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Spring’s Sprung at Navy Pier

Posted on March 11th, 2015 by

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The Chicago Flower & Garden Show, held each March at Navy Pier (March 14-22, 2015), is an experience for the senses, invoking memories of spring after a long and cold Chicago winter.

The Show, presented by Mariano’s, creates an experience that attendees will never forget by presenting new and exciting interactive concepts. It is where consumers and gardeners alike come to see the latest that the industry has to offer. Consumers want more from the people that “sell” them “things”—they want an experience; and the Chicago Flower & Garden Show creates an emotion and physical experience that incites the consumer with those who support it.

Local landscape designers, builders, and suppliers create realistic solutions within feature gardens and displays that inspire and demonstrate to attendees the possibilities for their own gardens, yards or balconies—it is a visual shopping tour of gardening, greening, floral, and home-related ideas.

The renewed theme of “Do Green, Do Good” will treat upward of 40,000 gardening enthusiasts and newbies alike to the sights, scents, and sounds of feature gardens with blooming perennials, annuals, trees, and water features. In addition to the Display Gardens, the show also features:  

  • Gardening Live Stage and Seminar Series: A continued focus on educational, interactive workshops and seminars by leading industry professionals
  • Garden Gourmet Stage: Cooking demonstrations by top Chefs in a garden setting
  • Kid’s Activity Garden: Hands-on fun and learning for future gardeners and gardening consumers
  • Photography Competition: A judged exhibit by amateur photographers
  • Tablescapes Exhibit: Cutting-edge ideas for the dining table presented by leading interior and floral designers
  • Art of Floral Exhibit: Stunning interpretive floral designs by the American Institute of Floral Designers paired to pieces of artwork
  • The Marketplace: A shopper’s paradise with over 100 exhibitors of green-industry and related goods and services
  • National Cake Decorating Competition:presented in conjunction with the Retail Bakers Association of America.
  • Evening in Bloom: A charity preview eventthat provides a sneak peek of the Flower & Garden Show prior to opening to the public.  Proceeds benefit local greening and charitable organizations.

Tickets range from $17-$19. The show runs March 14-22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon.-Weds. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Purchase tickets at the Box Office or online.

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