Press Release


"Civic Cinema" program curated by Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films ("Hoop Dreams", "Stevie") will be followed by Café Society conversations.

"If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie." -Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried (Heartland Prize from the Chicago Tribune)

CHICAGO- Many of the painful stories of soldiers returning from the war in Iraq and their families affected by their terms of service echo the stories of the painful Vietnam era. These stories are an important part of how we understand the ravages of war and the societies that wage it. There is precious little discussion of the aftermath that participation will visit upon those who have, or will serve.

The Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council invites the public to consider the experience of war and our debt to veterans in a series of groundbreaking and award-winning documentary films, curated by Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films ("Hoop Dreams", "Stevie"). The screenings will be followed by moderated conversations in coffeeshops and a barbershop throughout Chicago at regular Café Society locations. Films include:

No Vietnamese Ever Called Me N**ger – Interviews withthree African-American Vietnam veterans about the racism they encountered in the armed forces, both in training and at the front and their feelings of resentment about the fact that after they fought for the freedom of others in Southeast Asia, they returned home to find that discrimination and poverty still existed.

      • Bessie Coleman Library, 731 E. 63rd St., TUESDAY, MAY 10, 5:30 pm
      • Ron’s Barbershop, 6041 W. North Ave., Oak Park, MONDAY, MAY 23, 6 pm

Gunner Palace – First-hand accounts of the war in Iraq from "The Gunners" whose barracks are the bombed-out pleasure palace of Uday Hussein (nicknamed Gunner Palace), situated in the heart of the most volatile section of Baghdad.

      • Facets Cinematheque , 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., MAY 28 & 29, SATURDAY & SUNDAY, 2:00 pm ($9 admission fee)

Regret to Inform – The exquisite and tragic stories of widows of the Vietnam War.

      • Ron’s Barbershop, 6041 W. North Ave., Oak Park, MONDAY, MAY 16, 6 p.m.
      • Budlong Woods, 5630 N. Lincoln Ave., Thursday, May 12, 6:30 pm

Long Time Coming – the story of disabled and able-bodied Vietnamese and American veterans brought together on a journey of reconciliation.

      • Lozano Branch, 1805 S. Loomis St., WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 6:30 pm
      • Lincoln Park Library, 1150 W. Fullerton Ave., Monday, May 16, 6:30 pm

These programs are free and open to the public. The screening at Facets Cinematique will require a $9.00 charge.


  • May 17-20 : What Do We Owe Veterans?

    May 24-27 : How the Media Has Shaped Our Perceptions of War
  • Tuesday

    7-8 p.m.
    , Café Mestizo, 2123 S. Ashland Ave., Spanish Speaking

    7:30-8:30 p.m. , Intelligentsia Coffee, 3123 N. Broadway St.
  • Wednesday

    7-8 p.m.
    , Buzz Café, at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., Oak Park,

    7- 8 p.m. , Pause, 1107 W. Berwyn Ave. (and Broadway)
  • Thursday

    7-8 p.m.
    , Caffe De Luca, 1721 N. Damen Ave.

    7-8 p.m. , Valois, 1518 E. 53rd St.
  • Friday

    5-6 p.m.
    , Ron’s Barber Shop, 6041 W. North Ave., Oak Park


The Civic Cinema Project was launched this year with a screening of this year’s Academy Award winning film for best documentary "Born into Brothels." Civic Cinema is a series of free public screenings of the most exceptionally creative and engaging documentary films of our times. The films will be a catalyst for civic engagement and a springboard for community conversations on important social issues.

The Cafe Society Project began in October 2002 at four area coffee shops. This project fosters a more robust civil society, more cohesive and interactive communities, greater media literacy and a more informed and engaged citizenry through weekly coffee shop conversations about contemporary social issues. Current media reports (along with ample doses of caffeine) serve as stimulants for the conversations. The idea is to cross boundaries of class, race, ideology, and background to facilitate meaningful discussions about the underlying historical and philosophical issues implicated in topics in the news. The Café Society project taps the growing coffee culture in Chicago as a vehicle to promote conversations between strangers (a cornerstone of democratic practice) about relevant social issues, with a focus on the theme of citizenship, broadly defined, and critically examined.


The Public Square at the IHC fosters debate, dialogue, and exchange of ideas about cultural, social and political issues with an emphasis on social justice. Programs promote participatory democracy by creating space for public conversations. Knowledge is power, yet much crucial knowledge still circulates only in small, isolated communities. We build bridges between theory and practice in order to empower individuals to use ideas as tools to improve their lives.

More information about The Public Square at the IHC and Café Society is available at


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