Area filmmakers to screen short documentaries

Six short documentaries on topics ranging from maternal longings to the thoughts of young Arab men, will be screened tonight at this month's Midwest Independent Film Festival.

The event, held at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema at 2828 N. Clark Street every first Tuesday of the month, begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception and a script reading.

The film program begins at 7:30 p.m.

One of the films premiering tonight is "Wandering Wombs," by local filmmaker Jenifer Evans Carmon, who left the corporate world for filmmaking after deciding that she needed to make a film about a huge question that looms in many women's minds: "to birth or not to birth?"

Her documentary short program, she says, was an extremely personal undertaking. When interviewing women who had decided not to have children,  Carmon says she could relate.

"I felt weird. I was over 35 with no child," she says. "I related to them well."

In making the film, she sought out both the proud mothers and the proudly childless. She says a local organization, "No Kidding!" helped her connect with women who had made the decision not to have children.

Mike Graziamo's "Young Arabs," which focuses on a group of young Muslim and Christian students at an elite prep school in Cairo, will also have its premier tonight.

Graziamo, who studied documentary filmmaking in Washington D.C., and later moved to Chicago to earn his doctorate at Northwestern University, says he was motivated by the sense that Arab men are much talked about, but rarely heard from directly.

A college roommate who had taught school in Egypt was his collaborator, along with a production partner at Uji Films, the Chicago production company he helped form nine months ago.

The project took them to Egypt for two weeks, where they captured the sentiments of young Arab men on subjects ranging from terrorism to pop culture.

Whereas Carmon says her project was rewarding because it confronted an issue close to her heart, Graziamo's film offered an opportunity to enter a world far from his own experience.

Four other short documentary films, "Ulbert," "The Ride of the Megansers," "Kyoko Naturally" and "Waiting on God," will also be presented.

The filmmakers will be in attendance at this event, which concludes with an after party at Cousin's at 2833 N. Broadway.