Admiring the attire—glamorous gowns, quirky bow ties, and plenty of stilettos in the mix—it’s easy to see why guests attending Hollywood On State: Where You’re the Star, enjoy the fashion show and red-carpet photo opportunities at this event.
We were there to experience the 90th Academy Awards excitement reach a bubbling point. Guests sashayed about, posing for celebrity-style shots on the “red carpet,” admiring one another’s outfits and co-mingling at the bar. The mood was high, and the dress, well, on the dressy side. With ample pomp and spectacle, the event organizers did their utmost to inject a whiff of Hollywood into this Chicago event. As to be expected, the highlights were the fashion show and opportunity to see and be seen as a celebrity, for just one night.
Sharon and Peter Exley are elegant and intellectual—you’d think she was an actress with her film director husband—but in fact Peter is an Adjunct Professor in Architecture at SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Sharon is a double graduate of the school. Exuding old Hollywood, Sharon wears a strapless black gown with a plunging neckline and black satin elbow-length gloves. As a finishing touch, Sharon’s red lipstick is as plucky as her husband’s pink bowtie and blue spectacles. Sharon insists that Frances McDormand will win the Oscar for Best Actress. While Peter quips, “that is just so predictable,” he’s nevertheless confident “they will give the Oscars to the right people.”
Gene Siskel Film Center Board Members on Hand
Kyle Curry and Josh Yates are enjoying margaritas and conversation during this pre-Oscar party. Curry, a “film enthusiast” wearing an unassuming brown suit jacket over a black sweater, jokes that “he has a feeling that tonight’s going to be a good, good night.” Yates, a member of the Gene Siskel Film Center Board, is dapper in a pin-striped navy suit jacket, and no less enthusiastic about the festivities ahead. “Tonight, will be good,” Yates said.
Barbara Scharres, Director of Programming at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and her friend, Sophia Wong Boccio, Founder & Director of Asian Pop-Up Cinema, exemplify the creative style of film industry professionals. Scharres wears a faux white stole over a black dress, and Wong Boccio’s gray dress is punctuated by a glittery tie around her neck. Scharres can’t wait to introduce us to Wong Boccio, who gushes about Close Knit, a Japanese film that will screen Monday, March 5 at the Siskel Center in cooperation with Asian Pop-Up Cinema. In high spirits and all smiles, the ladies don’t hesitate to network and promote the Siskel Center, while at the same time, clearly having a ball.
Dressed Oscar ready in a tux, actor Harold Dennis predicts that Get Out will win the Oscar for Best Picture, and “will be an Oscar upset.”
Jean de St. Aubin, Executive Director of the Gene Siskel Film Center, and Eda Davidman, Co-Chair of Hollywood on State: Where You’re the Star, are in full Oscar Party mode, posing on the red carpet and gushing about who will win. “Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Sally Hawkins, and Gary Oldman,” to name a few of the predictions mentioned by these upbeat women.
Bianca Price and Rabeal Faiz are here “just for fun,” enjoying the opportunity to bask in Chicago-Hollywood glamour for a night.
Likewise, for Masumi Patel, Katie Ripp, Katie Teml, and Peter Kaufman, who make a handsome group of Oscar party goers in red, black, and gold.
And last, but certainly making a statement, Todd Toborg, the self-professed “selfie man,” admires himself in a tux on the red carpet while taking a selfie on his phone.
Mark your calendar for Gene Siskel Film Center Oscar Celebration Next Year!
Hollywood on State: Where You’re the Star was charming and lighthearted, it was a whiff of Hollywood in Chicago, it was a party that got us in a good mood, and excited about watching the Oscars! It’s not often you get to be a celebrity for a night. Mark your calendar for next year so you soak up every second of it!
The Gene Siskel Film Center has ongoing film screenings and other events celebrating cinema. To find out more visit the Gene Siskel Film Center website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Originally from Chicago, Marla Seidell has lived in Amsterdam, Washington D.C., and Olympia, WA. Marla graduated from Hofstra University and received her master’s degree from the University of Amsterdam, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Her writing credits include The Daily Herald, New York Post, and Timeout Chicago. She has been fortunate enough to be acting for over eight years, and has performed in over 30 short and feature films. She was nominated for Best Actress at the 2015 Laugh or Die Comedy Film Festival.