Reel Midwest


Illinois Public Media is proud to announce the launch of Reel Midwest, a new independent film series that hopes to find and broadcast the best feature, documentary, and short films from Illinois and across the Midwest.

Season One debuts in January 2019 on WILL-TV - here are the films:

a nun wearing her habit

Inquiring Nuns

Thursday, January 3, 9 PM

Two young nuns explore Chicago—from a supermarket to the Art Institute to the front of churches on Sunday—to confront people with the crucial question, "Are you happy?" The answers they get range in sincerity and depth.

a man walking into a True Value hardware store

Diverse Voices

Thursday, January 10, 9 PM

This collection of short films follow the life and times of a variety of everyday people, including a shoeshine technician, a magician, a skateboarder, a mom-and-pop hardware store owner, and more. Films include: Shinemen, The Amazing Mr. Ash, and Parts and Labor.

men riding bicycles past young Vietnamese children

Vietnam, Long Time Coming

Thursday, January 17, 9 PM

Back in 1998, the World T.E.A.M. (The Exceptional Athlete Matters) took a 16-day, 1,100 mile bicycle expedition through once war-torn Northern and Southern Vietnam. For the veteran athletes, the ride is more of an exorcism than a race.

two children on rollerskates

Now We Live on Clifton

Thursday, January 24, 9 PM

10-year-old Pam Taylor and her 12-year-old brother Scott grew up in a multiracial Chicago neighborhood, but they worry that they'll be forced out of the neighborhood by the gentrification following the expansion of DePaul University.

Winnie Wright holding a magazine

Winnie Wright – Age 11

Thursday, January 24, 9 PM

Winnie, the daughter of a steel worker and a teacher, lives in a Chicago neighborhood that is changing from white to black. As her family struggles with racism, inflation, and a threatened strike, she learns what it means to grow up white, working class, and female.

a young girl exercising on a balance beam

My Sister Hali

Thursday, January 31, 9 PM

After 50 years of burying the past, Paul Sheriff returns to his childhood hometown of Blue Mound, Illinois to reconstruct the pieces of his extraordinary childhood filled with Olympic dreams and catastrophic loss.

a woman looking toward the camera

The Gun Shop

Thursday, February 7, 9 PM

Go behind the scenes at a gun shop in Michigan where customers come to get advice, handle the weapons, and practice at the on-site shooting range. Each has their own rationale for wanting to own a gun, some thoughtful, and some shocking. All are thought-provoking.

a woman with a birthmark on her face

On Beauty

Thursday, February 14, 9 PM

In hopes to change the way we see and experience beauty, fashion photographer Rick Guidotti refocuses his lens on those too often relegated to the shadows. His photos challenge our narrow scope of beauty and the dehumanizing black-bar convention of medical textbooks.

a male coach and a number of young girls in a sports huddle

In the Game

Thursday, February 21, 9 PM

This Kartemquin documentary film, directed by Peabody award-winner Maria Finitzo, follows the ups and downs of a girls’ soccer team on Chicago’s South side, and reveals the very real obstacles that low-income students face in their quest for higher education.

woman and young man looking at sheet music while seated at a table

The Way to Andina

Thursday, February 28, 9 PM

A witty personal documentary about the discovery of a long lost opera written by a pioneering Colombian-American immigrant composer, and his great-grandson’s comical attempt to put the show on for a world premiere 80 years after it was written.


If you're a Midwestern filmmaker and would like more information about our submission process or the series in general, you can use this form, or email us at