AfterImage Film Festival returning to St. Charles this month

Festival will be held Oct. 21-24 at Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18

After making its debut in 2019 at Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18 in St. Charles, the AfterImage Film Festival had to go on hiatus last year because of the pandemic.

“It was really a shame,” AfterImage Director Andrew Carlin said. “We felt like we had done something really special in 2019 and we had a lot of really great momentum coming off of that year. It was a little bit heartbreaking to have to cancel in 2020 and lose all that great momentum and goodwill that we felt we established in 2019.”

Carlin and his family now live in St. Charles after previously living in Geneva.

More than 500 people attended the festival during its four-day run in 2019. The festival plans to build on its goal of becoming one of the premier film festivals in the Midwest when it returns to Charlestowne 18 this month. The AfterImage Film Festival will be held Oct. 21-24.

Those who attend this year’s festival will be able to see movies that have been shown at major film festivals.

“We are selecting kind of the cream of the crop of films that premiered at other international festivals over the last year,” Carlin said. “We’re screening films that premiered at Cannes, at Sundance, at Telluride. We have a documentary called “Becoming Cousteau” about Jacques Cousteau and that’s a film that premiered literally just three weeks ago at Telluride.”

A full schedule is at the festival’s website, Tickets for opening night – which include an open bar and a selection of small bites courtesy courtesy of top local restaurants – are $50. A screening of the Opening Night film, “Man in the Field,” will be presented following the party. Local musician Dennis O’Brien will also perform as part of the opening night festivities.

“It’s just going to be a really fun evening I think, as it was in 2019,” Carlin said.

Dennis O’Brien’s son, Eian O’Brien, made a short musical film about his father called “Bird’s Blue Pantoum” that will screen at the festival. There will be a Q&A with Eian O’Brien following both screenings at 3:15 p.m. Oct. 23 and 4:15 p.m. Oct. 24.

To keep everyone safe, those who attend the festival will need to show proof of being vaccinated for COVID-19. Masks must be worn at all times inside the auditorium and auditorium capacity will be capped at 70%.

Carlin said they want to make sure people feel safe while attending the festival.

“We don’t want to put on an event and then find out that people didn’t feel safe coming,” he said. “I think our audience skews slightly older. We tend to cater to a 50 and older crowd. This is an audience that may have not been back to a theater yet because there is no vaccination mandate.”

Organizers sent out surveys to people asking them what would make them feel safe.

“We sort of listened to that feedback and designed these safety protocols around that feedback,” Carlin said.

Patrons will be asked to social distance to the best of their ability while inside the auditorium.

“If at any point, if anyone does feel uncomfortable sitting next to someone, there should always be a seat in the theater to move to,” Carlin said.

Three auditoriums will be used for the festival. Carlin was happy about the impact the festival made when it debuted in 2019.

“The festival really solidified in our minds that there is a need for this festival,” he said. “People really enjoyed it and really wanted it to come back. We felt really heartened that we were really filling a need for this type of cultural event in the Fox Valley.”

More information about the festival is available at

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.