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Old-school paper-and-ink animator Don Hertzfeldt has won a cult following with demented shorts like the Oscar nominee Rejected (2000), and in the past few years he's opened up new creative vistas for himself, crafting more ambitious narratives and experimenting with colorful optical effects. For these two programs he'll present some of his best work—Rejected, Billy's Balloon (1998), and the misanthropic, obsessively drawn The Meaning of Life (2005), whose creation he once compared to “etching a novel into a rock one letter at a time with your fingernails.” But the highlight is bound to be the double whammy of his moving Everything Will Be OK (2006) and its sequel, I Am So Proud of You, making its Chicago premiere. Together they tell the story of Bill, a stick-figure everyman who stoically endures the pain, uncertainty, and excruciating beauty of life. Hertzfeldt's work is sometimes elusive in its simplicity, but it can be profound as well; with his humor, darkness, philosophical yearning, and insistence on drawing every line himself, he may be the only legitimate successor to Charles M. Schulz. Except for all the money, of course.

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