Interview with Director and Writer of ‘Rogers Park’ Movie

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Photo Courtesy of Rogers Park film.

by Sadie Lipe

Radiating feels of a neighborhood-tailored soap opera, “Rogers Park,” a film set in the Chicago neighborhood of the same name, depicts the lives of two interracial couples residing in the 49th Ward as both are plagued with discovering, rehashing and rekindling relationship turmoil.

As the 87-min film plays out, characters Grace (Sara Sevigny), Chris (Jonny Mars), Zeke (Antoine McKay) and Deena (Christine Horn) must come to terms with the effects openness, forgiveness and resentment have on a relationship.

“Rogers Park” debuted last October at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival, where Rogers Park locals were able to first recognize shooting locations such as the Loyola ‘L’ stop, the Loyola Beach and pier and Maddiebird Bakery.

Ald. Joe Moore’s (49th) office granted permission for shooting to take place in one of its locations, and Rogers Park residents lent their homes to cast and crew during production, according to a published DNAinfo article describing the premier.

The RogersEdge Reporter had the chance to interview the film’s director, Kyle Henry, and  writer, Carlos Trevino on their take of what “Rogers Park” represents for the community.

RogersEdge Reporter: Just to establish some context, what are your personal connections, if any, to the Rogers Park area? Are you currently a resident? If so, for how long?

Henry and Trevino: We have lived in Rogers Park since 2010 when we arrived in Chicago from Austin. In fact, it’s the only neighborhood we’ve lived in since then. We frequent area coffee shops and are avid beachgoers in the summer.

RER: The movie follows and plays out conflicts between two sets of partnerships. What inspired you to choose complex relationships such as these and stage them in Rogers Park? Have you personally experienced relationships and conflicts similar to these in this area?

Henry and Trevino: The complexity of the characters and their relationships in our film is due in large part to the workshop process: the willingness and scope and talent of our amazing actors. The conflicts our characters face came in large part from the writing process, some of which was gleaned from personal experience, but most of which was imagined.

RER: What characteristics and qualities specific to Rogers Park did you want to highlight in the movie?

Henry and Trevino: Rogers Park is one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods, racially, culturally, religiously, sexually. We love the way different types of characters collide off of one other daily, how interracial relationships are common, how the lake and the many parks are vital features in the daily lives of our neighbors.

RER: What feedback on the movie have you received from residents of Rogers Park?

Henry and Trevino: So far, it seems they’ve loved it. A few people were initially confused that it isn’t a documentary about the neighborhood, but we think the story reflects the character of the neighborhood. There are so many stories that could and should be told about a neighborhood like Rogers Park.

“Rogers Park” is showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State St.) Feb. 23, 24, 26 and 28. Click here for upcoming Chicago film screenings and the film’s theatrical tour.

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