AMC Theater, Chicago, 50th Annual Chicago Film Festival.

AMC Theater, Chicago, 50th Annual Chicago Film Festival.

I’m in Chicago, getting ready to cover the Chicago Film Festival.

Today—a beautiful 80+ degree day, and probably the last of our Indian summer lovely weather—I took advantage of the great weather to dine outside on Wabash at a Mexican restaurant (Zapatista’s) and to view a Press Only screening of “Force Majeure,” which is rumored to be a front-runner for Oscar contention for Best Foreign Film this year.

The film was set in a ski lodge (and made by Norway, Sweden, Denmark and France). Suprisingly, most of the movie  was in English, with fewer subtitles than anticipated. Since most young people in Sweden are brought up to speak both Swedish and English, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Watching all the skiing scenes in deep snow made me sad to think that our lovely warm Chicago weather has deserted us (temperatures dropped 20 to 30 degrees as evening came on tonight, Monday, September 29th.) Since we were just in Las Vegas where it was 90 to 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) (and, before that, in New Orleans, where it was similarly warm, but much more humid)),  watching this tribute to winter was less-than-thrilling, if you prefer beaches and warm weather (as I do).

With October just one day away and November lurking in the wings (to be followed by December), I’m already feeling the chill. Can’t take another winter like last year. Going to have to get out of Dodge. Planning on doing that after the holidays, but first, must market the NEW “Christmas Cats” book, which is speeding its way toward me as I write this. I’ll be doing signings WITH the costumed cat at three bookstores in the Quad Cities and, in all likelihood, will be at Razzleberries in LeClaire during their winter festivities, at Freddy Fritters’ Dog Bakery during the Village of East Davenport Christmas Walk, and at the Four Seasons store in Geneseo during their big Christmas parade. Dates to be announced as I find them out (although I do know that I’ll be in South Park Mall on Dec. 6th at Book World.)

AMC Theater, Chicago, 50th Annual Chicago Film Festival.

bats&cats_coverLast year, the Christmas Cats Chase(d) Christmas Rats. This year, The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats. First-rate artwork from Gary McCluskey helps drive home the message that all life has value and should be respected. And, of course, going all the way back to the first book, illustrated by local East Moline artist Andy Weinert, we’re talking about The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats. The cats are always going to be wearing silly hats; it’s their fashion statement. And they’re always going to be helping other animals in need. (Next year, frogs or deer, I’m thinking).  This year’s book will also include access to FREE coloring book pages on the dedicated website ( and mazes and other fun stuff, with young readers invited to send in their ideas, also. Stay tuned for further developments.

But, back to the film festival.

The  leading man from “Force Majeure” will be in town for interviews soon. The examination of a marriage under stress had a script that I could relate to. (The wife: “It’s so weird that you won’t admit what happened.” The husband:  “I want us to share the same view. I want to put it all behind us.”) The temperature flashed on the screen (for the ski lodge) was – 22 degrees, Celsius. (This converts to -7.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The movie’s themes aside, the mere act of watching people skiing in deep, cold snow reminded me of why I have never had any desire to ski. Water ski, yes. Snow ski? Uh…no thank you.

The performances from leading lady Lisa Loven Kongslo as Ebba and Johanne Kuhnke of Sweden as Tomas were outstanding, as were those of their two children.

So, stay tuned for adventures from the 50th Anniversary of the Film Festival that is the oldest film festival in North America. It doesn’t officially kick off until October 9th.