"Spectacular and original."
                                    Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune

A collaborative film project created by Chicago's theatrical, musical and visual artists.

Based on the stories of Ben Hecht's One Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago.


The following clip is a sample from the film of one of the three stories, Dapper Pete and the Sucker Play.

We want the film to do many things at once. To be a document of new artistic interpretations of the stories, to convey how the city links artists of the past and present, and to visualize the duality of Hecht's city, its gritty textures alongside its soaring inspirations. So just as the stories blurred the lines between journalism and literature, I decided the film could similarly blurs the lines between traditional documentary and narrative.

Dave Less, Director

Produced by Half King Productions, the film presents three of the stories from 1001 Afternoons in Chicago: Grass Figures, Don Quixote and The Last Windmill and Dapper Pete and the Sucker Play, through the blending of four types of footage.

  1. The Straw Dog actors and the Access Contemporay Musicians performing their adaptations and interpretations of the stories. Their voices and music are the audio bed for the entire film.
  2. Archival footage of Chicago from the 1920s through the present.
  3. New Chicago footage filmed in the present day.
  4. Illustrations and animation.

The blending of these elements cinematically conveys the idea that through the conduit of the city itself, these stories are constantly being reborn and re-imagined by the next generation of artists that they inspire.


Chicago. 1921. A writer at the Chicago Daily News comes to his editor with a big idea. The writer was Ben Hecht. The big idea was

just under the edge of the news as commonly understood, the news often flatly and unimaginatively told, lay life; that in this urban life there dwelt the stuff of literature, not hidden in remote places, either, but walking the downtown streets, peering from the windows of skyscrapers, sunning itself in the parks and boulevards. He was going to be its interpreter. He was to be the lens throwing city life into new colors, his the microscope revealing its contortions in life and death. It was no newspaper dream at all, in fact. It was an artist's dream.

Henry Justin Smith, 1921

Hecht's dream was to join hard journalism and fiction in order to capture the authentic fabric of our city, in all it's darkness and splendor. He went on to write ground-breaking short stories about everyday life in Chicago. First published as a daily column for the Chicago Daily News, sixty-four of his stories were later collected together and published as book entitled 1001 Afternoons in Chicago.

Nearly a century after their publication, the stories continue to inspire. In the spring of 2013, Seth Boustead of Access Contemporary Music decided to reimagine the stories in a radio play format featuring brand new original music scores. Collaborating with Andersen Lawfer and Mike Dailey of the Strawdog Theatre Company for the radio voices, Seth and Amos Gillespie composed musical scores for six of the stories from 1001 Afternoons in Chicago.

The project premiered with more than 20 actors and musicians performing live summer of 2013.

While the performance project was just beginning, filmmaker Dave Less was struck by how the stories were inspiring interpretations into new and different art forms.

Screenings& Contact

Click here for Rick Kogan's article about the film in the Chicago Tribune

Every now and then I see a show with the kind of innovative approach to music, theater and movement that makes me think two things. First: This is really, really exciting stuff. And second: oh MAN I wish I’d thought of this! ‘1001 Afternoons' is fresh, smart, evocative and invitational stuff. I’m lucky I saw it and I’m happy for everyone else who does, too.

Scott Silberstein, multi-Emmy winning executive producer

Click here for an article about the making of the film by Chicago journalist Paul Dailing

1001 Afternoons in Chicago is currently under consideration for screenings and exhibition.

If you have an interest in screening, distributing or writing about the film, please contact the filmmakers at 1001chicagofilm@gmail.com

The full film is 26 minutes in duration.

If you'd like to join our mailing list to get the latest news on screenings and other happenings around the film, please contact the filmmakers at 1001chicagofilm@gmail.com.


November 17th 2015 - Chopin Theature - Chicago IL
November 19th 2015 - WTTW Chicago PBS
November 20th 2015 - WTTW Chicago PBS
November 21st 2015 - WTTW Chicago PBS
April 17th 2016 - Chicago International Music and Movies Festival

1001 Afternoons in Chicago is a true passion project. All of the many people involved volunteered their time and talents to bring this extraordinary vision to life.


Dave Less


Jen Howard
Dave Less


Ian Wilcox


Mike Fernandez


Dave Less

Music Composition

Seth Boustead
Amos Gillespie


Francesco Milioto


Alyson Berger - cello
Douglas Johnson - double bass
Christie Miller - clarinets
Trevor Patrick Watkin - flute
Jeff Yang - violin and viola

Voice Acting Direction

Anderson Lawfler

Voice Acting Script Supervisor

Michael Dailey

Voice Adaptation Writers

Anita Deely
Anderson Lawfer
Allison Greaves Amidei
Sean Mallary
Michael Dailey

Voice Actors

Hecht- James Anthony Zoccoli
Newsman- Brian Amidei
Sherwood Anderson- BF Helman
Waiter- Caleb Probst
Sklarz- Conor Burke
Dapper Pete- Steve Herson

B-roll Actors

Dapper Pete & the Sucker Play
David Cottrell
Artur Shmihelskyy
Dan King
Alan Dennison
Yev Meister
Don Quixote & The Last Windmill
Steve Alvey
Robert Weber
Benjamin Keane
Ben Taylor
Seth Boustead
Shane Draper
David Keller
Andy Crestodina
Ray Araldi

Introduction City Walkers

Jen Howard
Chris Flores
Tiffany Green
BF Helman
Delbert Hunt III
Jason Toy
Bonny Lee Hardgrove
Starr Hardgrove

Camera Operators

Josh Stroud
Robby Barnett
Alan Dennison
Dan King
Chris Flores
Spencer Parks


Ray Araldi
Derrick Katzer
Alan Ramirez

Special Thanks

Scott Silberstein
Yev Meister
Vitus Wong
Jeff Umbricht
Kevin Carr
Kiri Torgler
Scott Stiffler
John Leineweber
Bernadette Burke
Mark Mallchok

Costuming & Props

Jen Howard

Make Up Artist

Alma Lucero Acosta


Yev Meister

Co-Produced by

Brella Productions

Dedicated to

Brian Hollingsworth


Half King Productions, LLC