Chicagoan production “Rogers Park” screens at Chicago Film Festival

By Vanessa Leal, Reporter

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Chris and Deena from “Roger’s Park.” Photo Courtesy of Chicago Film Festival

Mid-life crisis, depression and relationship struggles are all intertwined in a honest drama in “Rogers Park,” directed by Kyle Henry. As is expected from a movie carrying a Chicago neighborhood’s name, the city appears in shots of residential streets, train lines and beautiful North Side views of Chicago’s skyline over Lake Michigan, which gives the audience a sense of familiarity.

“Rogers Park” tells the story of Deena and Chris, a couple that opened their relationship in an attempt to cope with Chris’ depression over his abusive father’s death. Chris’ sister Grace was able to move on with less grief, which complicates her relationship with her brother. In the meantime, Grace tries to keep her love with life with Zeke together despite financial struggles faced by the couple, who exchange mutual demands and failed expectations.

The interracial aspect of both couples delivers to the public a portrait on the rich diversity of the neighborhood of Rogers Park. However, the racial depiction wasn’t originally intended.

“It was interesting though, I didn’t know if the couples would be straight or gay and I didn’t know what would end up being the pairing that we would choose,” said Kyle Henry, the director of the film. Henry said he wanted to work with actors who would genuinely like and be opened to play in improvisation, trying multiple angles in their acting. As it turned out, Henry said the actors who did best at the standard were interracial.

Henry said didn’t want to prescribe the audience just one message from the movie. Instead, he wanted to draw a parallel between the relationship struggles depicted in the storyline and community building challenges in the U.S.

Henry said he wanted to truly represent the ways couples can come together or fall apart.

“I think it should be part of any progressive agenda, how do we listen to all people within our community and hear their needs, their desires and work together to try to fulfill each other,” Henry said.

To convey the many emotions in the movie, Henry explained his close hold on camera focus in his actors facial expressions. Henry also explored a technique, in which while approaching a scene he works with the actors to get different levels of intentions. Henry said he might ask the actors to shoot the same scene with opposite reactions.

“The reason why I do that is because in the edit room I can kick all this different kinds of moods and create something that feels as complex for me as what goes on in our daily lives,” Henry said.

“Rogers Park” website can be accessed at Rogers Park Film .The film will continue screening through the Chicago Film Festival on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 6:15 p.m. and on Monday, Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are available on and screenings will take place in the AMC Theaters in River East 21, Chicago, IL.


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