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Chicago Filmmaker Michael Caplan to Screen and Discuss "Algren: The Movie" at Western

March 21, 2016

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MACOMB, IL - Western Illinois University will host a program featuring Michael Caplan's acclaimed documentary, "Algren, The Movie," at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 13 in Morgan Hall, room 109.

The 85-minute film will be followed by question and answer session with the director.

Through the film, Caplan profiles Nelson Algren, a successful Chicago writer who has been admired by many well-known novelists, including Ernest Hemingway, Richard Wright, Kurt Vonnegut and Salmon Rushdie. He was acknowledged as a major American writer during the 1940s and 1950s, and in 1949, he received the first National Book Award, given for The Man with the Golden Arm. Dubbed "The Poet of the Neon Wilderness" because of his focus on the seamier side of life during the 1930s and 1940s, Algren was highly regarded by fellow writers and honored by the Academy of Arts and Letters with membership and the Gold Medal for Literature, the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award.

Caplan, an independent filmmaker and associate professor of cinema art and science at Columbia College in Chicago, chronicles the lives of "people who are off-the-radar" and tells the stories of people who are often overlooked by mainstream filmmakers. He drew from a wealth of material, including interviews, archival visual and audio material, and the rich cache of photographs shot by Algren's close friend Art Shay to underscore Algren's impact on American literature and on other writers while also showing Algren's commitment to his writing as a craft and an art.

Caplan will not only discuss the subject of his film but will also talk about the process of making the film, including raising funds, doing research, setting up interviews, collaborating with crew members, distributing the film and bringing it to the attention of potential viewers.

The WIU screening has been organized by Associate Director of University Television Mark Dial, Associate Professor of English Roberta Di Carmine and Professor Emerita Janice Welsch and is co-sponsored by the WIU Department of English, the interdisciplinary film minor, the WIU Film Club and University Relations. For further information, contact Di Carmine at R-Dicarmine@ or Dial

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