Wilmette, Community

Locally filmed and inspired movie will screen at Midwest Film Festival on Monday, June 24

All roads lead back home.

Two years after filming in Chicagoland, including in Wilmette and Highland Park, New Trier High School alumnus and Director Cory Wexler Grant will present his film, “Screams from the Tower,” at the Midwest Film Festival at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 24, at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

Tickets for the evening, which includes a preshow reception and post-showing Q&A with Wexler, are available online.

Director Cory Wexler Grant leads filming of “Screams from the Towner” at The Wilmette Theatre in 2022.

Filming for “Screams” wrapped last year, and post production was complete in January. Since, Wexler Grant and his team have been submitting it to film festivals across the globe. The movie screened in April at the LGBTQ+ Toronto Film Festival, where it took home the audience award for Best Feature Film.

“It’s such a weird thing,” Wexler Grant said of completing a film. “From a producorial point of view, it’s great to feel the accomplishment of being done — years of work in the can — and to get the response we seem to be getting. From a writer-director point of view …. you go through this kind of depression, almost like sending your kid off to college, out into the world to suffer the slings and arrows and hopefully compliments and validation.”

A comedy, “Screams From the Tower” was inspired by the formative experiences of Wexler Grant and friend Jon Runnfeldt, one of the movie’s producers, on the North Shore. It follows the two main characters, Julien (Richie Fusco) and Cary (David Bloom), as they navigate the struggles of stardom and public scrutiny that are byproducts of their popular high school radio show.

The main characters are gay and in the closet, and when one of them comes out, both must respond in a less-tolerant 1990s environment. Julien also struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder, and he must find a way to handle the newfound notoriety while also trying to live up to expectations.

Parts of the film were shot at the Wilmette Theatre, a location Wexler Grant and Runnfeldt visited often in their teenage years.

“It’s definitely a love letter to the area and growing up here,” Wexler Grant said.

Proud to showcase the film at the Midwest Film Festival, Wexler Grant said he is awaiting word from up to 15 other festivals. The film also has a fresh Instagram page and a new website is forthcoming, he said.

Through the festival circuit and marketing, Wexler Grant and company are hoping to get more eyes on the film and make connections that could lead to a distribution deal, whether in theaters or on a streaming service.

“You wait for magic to slap you in the face,” Wexler Grant said. “There’s something about when you make a movie or play, you need momentum and something ephemeral that happens to the project. The right people get involved and everything falls into place. We’ve been really lucky. There’s been a little magic surrounding this movie since the beginning.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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