Chicago filmmaker explores beauty's ugly side

Filmmaker Darryl Roberts sees something a little bit ugly in America's obsession with beauty.

The Chicago native, who has shot two feature films in Chicago previously, says the idea for his latest film came to him after reading about the murder of a model whose killer had declared his victim so beautiful that if he could not have her, no one would.

Roberts says the case led him to think about his own follies under the intoxication of female beauty and to wonder how American culture became so preoccupied with the pursuit of beauty.

The result was the film "America the Beautiful," which will be screened tomorrow at the monthly Midwest Independent Film Festival at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema at 2828 N. Clark Street.

The film includes appearances by celebrities Paris Hilton, Martin Short and Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Roberts was also fortunate in being able to bring two high-profile editors to the project. Inspired by Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," he succeeded in persuading the film's editor, Kurt Engfehr, to come aboard as a supervisor.

He got "Super Size Me" editor Stela Georgieva to edit the film.

Roberts says he shot the film in Chicago because the cityscape lends a nice texture to films.

"America the Beautiful" debuted at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival last March and won a special jury prize for best director at the Chicago International Film Festival.

The Midwest Independent Film Festival, which showcases locally and regionally-created  films, is held every first Tuesday of the month, beginning with a 6 p.m. cocktail reception and 6:30 p.m. script reading.

The film program begins at 7:30 p.m.

The event concludes with an after party and question and answer session with the filmmaker at Cousin's, at 2833 N. Broadway.