In a bit of a coup, School of the Art Institute alumnus Bradley Rust Gray's second feature as director, the highly acclaimed microdrama The Exploding Girl, has its local premiere Saturday in the fledgling Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival.
Zoe Kazan (Revolutionary Road, granddaughter of Elia Kazan) stars in The Exploding Girl as a Brooklyn college student with epilepsy embarking on a tentative romantic friendship with a young man (Mark Rendall, 30 Days of Night).
Gray directed the 2003 Iceland-set drama Salt, and produced his wife and fellow SAIC alum So Yong Kim's films Treeless Mountain and In Between Days. The couple is at work on the girls-in-love story Jack & Diane, starring Juno Temple (Greenberg) and Riley Keough (The Runaways).
The Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival, which opens Wednesday, is the brainchild of prolific local filmmaker Michael P. Noens (Coasting, Darren & Abbey) of CNGM Pictures.
Also on the bill: Scott Smith and John Fromstein's documentary about the UW Madison mascot, Being Bucky; Trust Us, This Is All Made Up, Alex Karpovsky's concert film of improv duo Pasquesi & Jagodowski; Amy S. Weber's Michigan drama Annabel & Bear; and Todd Berger's LA serial killer mockumentary The Scenesters.
The Exploding Girl screens Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center, 150 E. Wood St., Palatine.