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Film Premiere Recalls Street Artist Who Fought Illinois Eavesdropping Law

Chris Drew in his studio. Photo credit: Patrick Boylan
Chris Drew in his studio. Photo credit: Patrick Boylan

You can attend the Chicago Premiere of an Indie feature documentary film that was made right here in the Windy City – “Free Speech & the Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew, Street Artist” (99 min) 2014, by Nancy Bechtol.

In 2009, Chris asked Nancy (with 2 friends) to accompany him and document his attempt to get arrested for peddling art patches with messages of social awareness and artistic ideas to challenge Chicago’s Peddler’s Ordinance.

Chris was arrested for selling art patches for $1, (peddling) but since he had a personal tape recorder, charges changed to a felony violation of Illinois’ Eavesdropping Law by Illinois State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, which carried 4-15 years in jail if convicted. In 2009 this law was generally unknown. Two pro bono attorneys defended him. First, Mark Weinberg challenged on the free speech constitutional ground; then Joshua Kutnick, criminal defense, defended and won in the courtroom of Judge Sachs on the felony charges in 2012.

● Event Location: Logan Theatre 2646 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
● When: November 14, 2014 Friday 6:30 doors open — 7:30 p.m. film starts

[pullquote]Everything changed. From his arrest, for making an audio recording of his own arrest, to his untimely death from lung cancer, the film tracks Chris’ activism around Free Speech, his connections to the community, his connection to street artists in Chicago and internationally, and his transcendent belief in Free Speech. The film is a colorful trip through Chicago’s Occupy and Anti-War protests, Critical Mass bike rides, and more, as you learn about a real American patriot who believed that art, thought, and free speech were worth fighting for.
Note: The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the Ill Eavesdropping Law, March 2014.[/pullquote]

The film includes interviews with his lawyers and with all kinds of people who worked with Chris from the American Indian Center and elsewhere, and those that knew him, including lawmaker Rep. Elaine Nekritz, who got involved in the struggle to overturn the draconian Illinois Eavesdropping Law.

Nancy Bechtol, an award winning photographer and artist, has been documenting social justice and Chicago street artists for 30 years. This film is a departure from anything she has ever done, evolved over five years and was shot on five different formats, including DSLR to cellphones.

Featured throughout is the Indie music, courtesy of Hey Now Records, by Behind the Sun, Andy Alton and David Mansfield.

Chris Drew, who passed away 2012, was the longtime executive director of The Uptown Multi-Cultural Arts Center (UM-CAC) located in the American Indian Center.
Trailer is on listed on IMDb

Music in the film courtesy of Hey Now Records. “Paper Airplane” Behind the Sun. Andy Alton /David Mansfield
Contact information:

Contact for Tickets/Screening information: Logan Theatre 2646 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 773.342.5555. at the box office and online.

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