Press Release


The Public Square hosts a reception and screening of the winners of the “Looking for Democracy” Short Film Contest

CHICAGO – Join The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council, and our partners as we discuss the power of independent art and media in a democracy, featuring the winners of the “Looking for Democracy” Short Film Contest and other special guests. This event will take place on Monday, May 3rd at Columbia College Chicago’s Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor, Chicago). The reception will begin at 5:00 p.m. and the screening of the winning films will begin at 6:00 p.m.  It is free and open to the public. Reservations are required and can be made at or by calling 312.422.5580.

Theophilus Jamal, actor, filmmaker, and Master’s student in Digital Cinema at DePaul, is the grand-prize winner for his short film “American Flag,” which examines the issues of free speech while chronicling a veteran protest to a flag hung upside down. Free Spirit Media, a youth filmmaking program, is a winner for the short film “Hungry for Change,” which examines the impact of living in a “food desert,” where grocery stores and fresh food are not easily accessible. Members of The Theatre of Social Justice Project, a collaboration between Rudy Lozano Leadership Academy and Francis W. Parker School students, are winners for their short film “Democracy 2,” which expresses the challenges and opportunities for democracy that the students experienced through the context of their community.

In addition to the screening, this event will feature performance poetry, a Q & A with the winning filmmakers, and an intergenerational conversation with a panel of special guests. The discussion panel will include: Xan Aranda, filmmaker and founder of Short Film Brigade; Tara Malik, photographer and Program Director at Beyondmedia Education; and A. Zell Williams, playwright and recipient of an administrative fellowship with Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

This event is co-sponsored by The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council; Independent Television Service (ITVS); Kartemquin Films, Independent Feature Project Chicago; Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV), Chicago Short Film Brigade, Critical Encounters: Fact and Faith, Reeltime Independent Film and Video Forum, and the Columbia College Television & Film Departments. WBEZ Chicago Public Radio is the media sponsor.


The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council, 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. This event is part of The Public Square’s “Looking for Democracy” series, which is designed to launch a conversation about the kind of world we want to build together by creating forums for intelligent discussion of politics in America through art and dialogue. The “Looking for Democracy” series is supported in part by a grant from the Woods Fund of Chicago.  More information about The Public Square is available at


The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities.  Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


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