CCFF2022: Preview of ‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’ & ‘Palm Trees and Power Lines’ on May 17

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CHICAGO – The 9th Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) is on DAY FIVE, and will feature two significant films from women directors … “Straighten Up and Fly Right” by Kristen Abate (with co-director Steven Tanenbaum) and “Palm Trees and Power Lines” by Jamie Back. The Fest continues through May 19th, click CCFF for schedule and ticket info. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

”Straighten Up and Fly Right” creates a space for a disabled character to seek a sense of herself, while breaking a cycle of loneliness and desperation within her own skin. Kristen Abate is also featured as Kristen, a young women with a permanent stoop (bent over) style of walking due to Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), a crippling arthritis. Isolated in her own world as a dog walker (naturally) she is given a hand up just as her self criticism and loathing is at its worse. Steven (Steven Tanenbaum), a fellow sufferer of AS, allows Kristen to move into his apartment, mediates the challenges of her drug use and slowly begins to introduce her to a wider world. What is truly remarkable about the film is that it never panders, and creates a challenging reality that handicapped people deal with on a daily basis. Kristen is a bit of a bad ass anti-hero – she dreams of being a writer and creates sharp and hilarious profundity from her plight – and finds redemption as many do through the step by step changes that gradually create purpose and inner illumination. (7pm) Co-directors, co-writers and actors Kristen Abate and Steven Tanenbaum will be in attendance for a post-film Q&A.

‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’ at 9th CCFF
Photo credit: Another Urban Riff Production Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

“Palm Trees and Power Lines” refers to the mendacity of a beach town where a teenager named Lea (Lily McInerny) is wasting away the summer before her Senior Year by hanging with disconnected “friends” and experimenting with unfulfilling coupling. Things change when a man twice her age (Jonathan Tucker) picks her up and begins a process of seduction which includes a declaration of love. Circumstances start to spin beyond Lea’s control as they grow closer as a couple. Disconnection is a theme in this film, uncomfortably so. It’s a perfect storm of Lea being bored and separated from her friends, her unavailable mother (Gretchen Mol) and a manipulative stranger that inspires shouts of “run away!” But this concept of a very real situation is more psychologically complicated, and coupled with a more sexualized teen society creates more emotional vulnerability. A significant debut for writer/director Jamie Dack, adapting her own short film. (9pm)

‘Palm Trees and Power Lines’ at 9th CCFF
Photo credit: Fiesta Island Films/Neon Heart Productions

Also screening on May 17 for the 9th CCFF is (click link for description), BEBA.

The 9th Chicago Critics Film Festival returns after a truncated 2021 event and the 2020 pandemic cancellation. It is the the only Film Festival curated by film critics, and highlights the 2022 films from the early year festivals like Sundance and SXSW.

Excerpt from “Straighten Up and Fly Right” (from Seattle Film Fest) …

The 9th Chicago Critics Film Festival runs from May 13th through May 19th, 2022, at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 North Southport, Chicago. For the CCFF website, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

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