Things to do in Chicago: Japanese Film Festival, National Tap Day and more

Films from Japan

The inauguration Japanese Film Festival, presented by the Chicago Japan Film Collective and billed as the first of its kind in the Midwest, presents nine contemporary Japanese films: “Our festival is designed to bring the American Midwest into conversation with Japanese culture,” said co-founder Sakamoto Yuki . Films include Hayashi Kaizo’s “Bolt,” an earthquake drama that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster; “All About Chiaki Mayumura (Provisional)”, a drama about a musical celebrity that is much more than it looks; “Videophobia”, a cyber-thriller; “Alone Again in Fukushima”, a documentary about a man left behind after the disaster and the evacuation to care for abandoned animals, and “The House of Seasons”, a family drama about a teenager overcoming health problems. Mental Health. The festival runs from May 25 to 31. Tickets: $ 10 for a film; $ 15 access to all movies. Visit

A writer’s life

Ray bradbury
AP file

The American Writers Museum has reopened with a new exhibit, “Ray Bradbury: inextinguishable” a retrospective that explores the writings and influence of the legendary science fiction author. The exhibit includes books, letters, Bradbury’s desk and typewriter, and more on loan from the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University. Bradbury grew up in the suburbs of Waukegan and his childhood in the Midwest has remained central to his life. Armed with a vivid imagination, he would perform in the ravine near his home, frequent the local cinema, peruse visiting carnivals and hang out in the library. “These were the things at the center of my life,” he told the Sun-Times in 2006. “It was the start of everything.” The exhibition continues until May 2022. Admission: $ 14 ($ 4 off until May 31). Visit

Find connections

“Half of us”
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago wraps up virtual season with Robyn Mineko Williams’ “Half of us.” The filmed piece is a 16 minute meditation on human connection and the many ways we experience it. The original music is by OHMME, an eclectic experimental rock duo from Chicago composed of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart. The film airs for free at 7:30 p.m. on May 20, 22 and 2 p.m. on May 23. Visit

forever Young

Bettye Lavette
Marc Seliger

Celebrate Bob Dylan’s 80th Birthday (May 24) with “May your song always be sung” an event broadcast live at 7 p.m. on May 20 that also benefits The Human Needs Food Pantry in Montclair, New Jersey. The lineup includes live performances of Dylan’s music by Bettye LaVette, Richard Thompson, Nils Lofgren, Robyn Hitchcock, Lucy Kaplansky, Amy Helm, Bill Frisell, Low Cut Connie and many more. Free, donations encouraged. Visit … Steve Dawson and Michael Miles are also joining forces to “Tribute concert for the 80th birthday of Bob Dylan” streaming at 8 p.m. on May 23 via The Hideout. Tickets: $ 5 to $ 20. Visit

Press it

Chicago Tap Theater

Chicago Tap Theater and MADD Rhythms team up to celebrate National Tap Day May 22. The full-day online event (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) includes intermediate and advanced tap lessons, a tap dance history lecture and a Chicago Tap All-Stars performance featuring Billy Siegenfeld, Chicago Tap Theater, Jenai Cutcher, Jimmy Payne Jr., Kendra Jorstad, Marty and Jessica Bronson, MADD Rhythms, Matt Crowle, Nico Rubio, Patti Vickerman, Rich Ashworth, Stephen Spanopoulos and Tre Dumas. Tickets: $ 15, $ 25 for the show; $ 55, $ 95 for classes. Visit chicagotathéâ

Indoor / outdoor shows

Tuli Bera (left) and Kinnari Vola from the Ishti collective.
Michelle reid

The adventurer Pivot Arts Festival returns with live events from May 21 to June 6 in the Edgewater neighborhood. Entitled “Reimagining Utopia”, the ninth annual event features performances in indoor and outdoor spaces. Twelve artists and companies have been selected to create small works of theater, dance or music as well as video installations responding to the global health crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement. Performers include SoIAR *, Propelled Animals, Ishti Collective, Christin Eve Cato, Danielle Ross, Puppet Wonder Wagon, KAIA String Quartet and Laksha Dantran. Tickets: $ 5 to $ 30. For a full program of performances, visit

Virtual stage

Lauren Kennedy and Norbert Leo Butz in “The Last Five Years” in 2001.
Northlight Theater

Northlight Theater presents a celebration of the 20th anniversary reunion of “The last five years”, Jason Robert Brown’s musical that made its theatrical debut in 2001. The original creative team – Brown, director Daisy Prince and cast members Norbert Leo Butz and Lauren Kennedy – come together to talk about the historic musical with artistic director BJ Jones. Free broadcasts at 6.30 p.m. on May 23. Visit theater au … “We are over there”, a digital prologue to the new musical “It Came from Outer Space”, which will debut next year at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, streaming free from May 24 to June 20. Visit … Ensemble Noir Theater broadcasts its eighth annual fundraiser, Jackie Taylor’s “The soul of a powerful woman (her to save the world)” at 6 p.m. on May 23. Free, donations encouraged. Visit

Mary Houlihan is a freelance writer from Chicago.

Marie A. Evans