Lake Theatre may be the only cinema in Oak Park, but there are numerous resources for film buffs in the city if you dig a little. And most of them are free.
Perhaps the foremost venue for local film screenings is the Oak Park Public Library. The Veterans Room on the second floor houses an automatic pull-down screen, a projector and seats for up to 120 attendees.
Children and Adult programs are both screened in the Veterans Room. Notable among recurring programs is Doug Deuchler’s Wednesday Film Series.
Deuchler, a long-time Oak Park resident, author and film history teacher, started showing movies at the library in the early 2000s when it was in an interim location during construction of the new building. Since his first showing, which highlighted movies about food such as “The Big Night,” his events have become mainstays in the community.
Series take place in fall, winter and spring and are comprised of 6-7 films. Past subjects include Hitchcock, Clark Gable, Film Noir, Films Based on Plays and Oscar Winners.
The most recent selection, which concludes this Wednesday, honors the films of Director Elia Kazan. Deuchler chose to highlight the legendary director in a series he called “Crisis in Controversy” which he believes shows that “great men are not always great guys” but that their true character should be judged “separately from their art.”
Deuchler begins each screening with a brief introduction, a run-down of things to notice and a little background, should the film require historical context. For the Kazan series, for example, Deuchler discussed the Red Scare in Hollywood as context for how Kazan mimics this theme in films like “On the Waterfront.”
Attendance is nothing to bat an eyelash at: even with a 9:30 a.m. weekday start time, Deuchler reports an average crowd of 50, with audiences sometimes as large as 60 or 70.
“People really look forward to it,” Deuchler says.
On the roster for winter is a Contemporary Documentary series, which will screen Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m.
You can also find Deuchler at Lake Theatre at the First Tuesday Film Club, where he hosts evenings of art, foreign, documentary and classic films.
Another resource for movie lovers is the Forest Park Public Library, which will host a Classic Movie Series in November and finishes the year with a Holiday Movie Series the month of December. Films begin at 1:30 p.m. on Fridays.
FPPL also has programs for kids. Teens ages 12 and older can pick the flicks at Friday Flash Cinema at 3:30 p.m. every other Friday.
Rounding out the library venues is the River Forest Public Library, which hosts a Foreign Film Forum the second Saturday of each month.
RFPL also offers children’s and teen programming occasionally on Saturday mornings. Registration is recommended, as refreshments and activities are sometimes included.
The Park District of Oak Park is also a great place to catch an occasional movie. Programming is less reliably scheduled than the other venues, but certain park district clubs create an event to accompany the showing.
It’s best to check out any websites ahead of time, should scheduling change. Here are some film events coming up in the next few weeks.
Wednesday, November 5, 9:30 a.m., Veterans Room, Oak Park Public Library, “Splendor in the Grass” (oppl.org)
Saturday, November 8, 2 p.m., Meeting Room, River Forest Public Library, “Three Colors: Red” (www.rflib.org)
Thursday, November 13, 11 a.m., Cheney Mansion (220 N. Euclid Ave.), The Park District of Oak Park, Food & Flick: “Mystic Pizza” (www.pdop.org)
Saturday, November 15, 10 a.m., Meeting Room, River Forest Public Library, “Hunger Games” Double Feature (www.rflib.org)