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Directed by Deborah Stratman

United States 2016 60 mins.

Stratman’s latest feature—following such crucial works as O’er the Land (2009)—is an 11-part historical compendium, comprised of discrete stories of power, struggle, landscape, technology, and ideology. Entirely structured around and through the varied Illinois landscape, the tales on offer here range from the utopian to the oppressive: from the murder of Fred Hampton in Chicago, 1969, to indigenous histories, to nuclear physicists forming a utopian community. What links these disparate parts is both the Illinois that has a long and turbulent history, in addition to Stratman’s laser focus on the unexpected that crops up all around us, every day, and how a sense of place strongly shapes our lives. “A film like The Illinois Parables, whose only agenda is inquiry and discovery, feels necessary right now. There’s something calming and liberating in Stratman’s approach, a feeling that there’s solace to be found for those tuned in. Especially in this moment when so many took easy refuge in a facile idea of our country, its traditions, its problems, and its future, it is warming to come into contact with fellow travelers still reveling in the weird and wild of America, insistent on letting it roam free, and finding forms that fight actively against tamping it down.”—Jeff Reichert, Reverse Shot. “Stratman has produced one of the most quietly radiant movies of recent memory.”—Nick Pinkerton, Film Comment.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.