Midwest Film Festival goes for laughs

Humor is on the agenda at this month's Midwest Independent Film Festival.

The lineup, tomorrow at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema, includes 10 comedy shorts by local and regional filmmakers, with two music videos thrown in for good measure, including one featuring Chicago's Roller Derby gang.

The films include some recent selections from the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas.

Elmhurst native Ian Martin's "The European Kid" was among the films warmly received in Austin. Martin, who studied in Indiana and California, returned to his hometown to film this comedy about a young man who falls for his girlfriend's sister.

"I wanted to get across that we want what we can't have," Martin says of the film. "Even when we have something great, we want something else."

The film's title character,  inspired by Martin's experience with his many foreign friends, feels like an outsider, and this sensation fuels his lust for what he cannot grasp.

Martin says compared to Los Angeles, he finds Chicago's film community full of artists driven more by passion than money.

Scott Smith, whose film "Bye" is also on the schedule, also had praise for the city's film-friendly  atmosphere. "I love shooting in Chicago," Smith says. "Besides the fact that we've got a very visual/photogenic city, the Chicago film community is just that- a community ... with talented, selfless individuals who you can count on to help you push beyond your vision."

Smith, a Wisconsin native who came to Chicago to work in advertising, says that working on numerous commercial shoots here served as his film school. He adapted "Bye", about a therapist who attempts suicide, from a feature that he wrote.

The film, he says, is "typical in the sense that my films usually fall on the side of humor, unless of course the subject is dog fighting or torturing butterflies."

The program, at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema at 2828 N. Clark St., begins with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m.

Film screenings begin at 7:30. A reception, attended by filmmakers, cast and crew members, follows at Forno Diablo, 433 W. Diversey Parkway.