Rebecca Fons leads Gene Siskel Film Center into a new era | Movie Feature | Chicago Reader

tagsLoft Beds


Subscribe to our newsletter

At the current stage of our streaming cinema for nearly a year, the words engraved on the stairs of the Gene Siskel Cinema Center are now as conservative as a prophet: "You can make a good movie after a few steps."

During the COVID-19 crisis, the film center has been closed. The film center is usually called "Siskell" by local film lovers. It is no stranger to the dual conditions of frustration and optimism, because dual conditions make frustration and optimism become Two aspects of the same thing. In these difficult times, those in the art field. As early as July, 13 of the 19 employees of the Film Center (including the long-time associate director of programming Marty Rubin) underwent mass layoffs at the Art Institute of Chicago school, and the Film Center was a public program. Then, in November last year, the organization announced that its programming director,

, Marking the end of the era of one of Chicago's most important exhibition venues.

But with this development, the torch passed. Earlier this month, the Film Center announced that Rebecca Fons will be the new director (currently part-time) until the highly anticipated theater reopens, when she intends to play a full role. Time basis.

I discussed this new opportunity with Fons and learned that one of the first items on her agenda is, as one might expect, to continue to improve the virtual cinema products of the Cinema Center. She said: "We will be closed for a while." "We are not planning to reopen tomorrow. So, we [immediately] are considering virtual. Exhibitors across the country are turning to virtual programming so quickly, and so are distributors. So [we ] Is considering how we use virtual space. It’s essentially another screen."

After Fons took the post of programming director at FilmScene, Iowa City, after she completed a long day and is about to complete part-time work, we gave a speech through Zoom. She will continue to work at FilmScene until she becomes full-time at the Film Center. She received a master’s degree in media management from Columbia University in Chicago, during which time she worked with

. This internship led her to serve as the Director of Education of the Film Festival, which she held from 2007 to 2016.

Her next step will take her back to the roots of the movie. Fons is from the small town of Winterset, Iowa (5,190 population as of the 2010 census). In 2015, the local theater where she was located, the Iowa Theater closed. Her mother raised Fons and her two siblings as a single mother, and she had an idea: she suggested they buy them.

"She was like, this is where you see the world," Fons said. "In this theater seat, this is where you realize your passion. Should we buy it? Should we fix it? Is this a crazy idea? I don't think it is a crazy idea. Who doesn't want to repair the theater?"

After establishing a non-profit organization and raising approximately one million dollars to restore the space, the new and improved Iowa State Theater reopened in 2017. In the same year, Fons got a job at FilmScene. In Winterset, Iowa City and in Chicago, she still lives with her husband, Jack C. Newell, who is Harold La. Film producer and show director at Harold Ramis Film School.

She said: "The magic of moving images has always been my North Star." "Art is where I find myself at home. I am very fortunate to have a career where I can do what I like. Even if it is everywhere, this is indeed one. Kind of fun."

The path from the sofa to the theater seat has become more important, and exhibitors all over the world want to return to on-site programming, which makes Fons driven by the viewing habits of moviegoers. She said: "This is a huge question, what do people want to see when they return to the cinema for the first time in more than a year?"

Although the virtual cinema in the film center is one of her more pressing issues, Fons has already begun to consider long-term development. She assured me that many of the factors that made the film center its cultural bastion will remain the same. She said: "There are absolutely long-term partnerships and plans that will continue." "Black Harvest is a good example...some things will not change at all. The long-term serials that are the backbone of the movie center will do nothing."

But: "I am also very interested...I am studying programs that have not been used in the past. They are just using their noses to figure out whether there is a way to activate them in a new way or move on. This is an interesting time to be able to do it at this point."

Some of Fons' ideas include exploring the potential of Midnight Mill products, and on the other hand, it has also launched a series of movies aimed at families. Like many curators, Fons is considering how the Cinema Center can expand its already powerful programs to show groups that are not properly represented in mainstream cinemas, and films about these groups, such as the above

Iran Annual Film Festival


and many more. Fons is part of the "action alliance", which is the working group of Arthouse Convergence, bringing together programmers, exhibitors, film festival staff, and even some distributors to discuss issues related to equity.

She said: "The movie center has only two screens." "This is a limited landscape, a limited canvas, so thinking about how to program as a female filmmaker, a filmmaker of people of color, we become influential People, the film center has become an influential person, and guide Chicago customers and audiences to understand the film industry and tell stories. I think programmers shoulder a huge responsibility, and I deeply respect this."

During the various events of the global pandemic and social unrest, more or less walk through traditional exhibition spaces-in a period when many people take art for granted, this proves the general disregard for the workers displaced in the crisis- Like other positions, her job is suitable for her. However, despite this, she is still reluctant to let the clickbait title announcing the death of the cinema distract her from what she knows about the public film experience.

"I do feel that when we can get together as spectators in a cinema, it's like dark clouds, oh yes, this is the best thing in the whole world."



We talk to Chicagoans about Chicago, but we can't do it without your help. Every dollar you provide helps us continue to explore and report on various situations in the city. Our reporter searches Chicago to find new things, new things and the next thing. Join us and stay in touch with the pulse of the city

are you there

Are you not ready to submit? Send us the information you can!

BIPOC bartender shakes

Conduct a performance with you

Why everyone desires




Contact Us
  • Maggie Kwan
  • +86 757 2363 2953
  • +86 139 2480 2689
  • +86 757 2387 9469
  • +86 139 2480 2689