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Friday 11/16 - Thursday 11/22

NOVEMBER

16 FRIDAY Last year Iranian writer, lawyer, and women's rights advocate Mehrangiz Kar and two others were arrested by the Iranian government and charged with "acting against national security" after they attended an academic conference in Berlin. Kar, who's fighting breast cancer, was sentenced to four years in prison. She was recently released from jail in response to intense international pressure and is making her first trip to Chicago to take part in tonight's free panel discussion, Iranian Women: The Legal Structure of Family and the Quest for Identity. She'll be joined by Ziba Mir-Hosseini, the London-based codirector of the documentary Divorce Iranian Style (portions of which will be screened tonight), and Women Make Movies executive director Debra Zimmerman. Independent filmmaker and Columbia College professor Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa will moderate. It starts at 6 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan. Call 312-344-6708 for more information.

17 SATURDAY Filmmakers Rose Troche (Go Fish), John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men, Nurse Betty), and George Hickenlooper (The Man From Elysian Fields) will discuss their work and the state of the independent film industry tonight at an event called "75 Minutes With...," part of this weekend's Independent Feature Project/Midwest-hosted Independent Filmmakers Conference, which started Friday and runs through Sunday. The discussion begins at 7 at the Biograph, 2533 N. Lincoln, and will be followed by the Flyover Zone Short Film Festival. Admission is $10; call 312-435-1825 for more information and complete festival schedule.

Sharon Woodhouse got into the publishing business in 1994 after she realized that existing Chicago guidebooks were aimed at tourists with cash to burn; she wrote Know More, Spend Less: A Native's Guide to Chicago as a penny-pinching alternative. Since then her north-side Lake Claremont Press has flourished by focusing on Chicago-area guidebooks and regional histories (including ghost stories) written by locals. The press will hold a free open house today and tomorrow from 10 to 3 at which visitors can meet staff and authors, including Libby Hill (The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History), Marilyn Pocius (A Cook's Guide to Chicago), and David Cowan (Great Chicago Fires: Historic Blazes that Shaped a City). It's at 4650 N. Rockwell; call 773-583-7800 for more information.

18 SUNDAY There are some 400,000 Muslims in the Chicago area, and the idea behind today's free Chicagoans and Islam event is to bring residents of all faiths together to "build neighbor to neighbor relations" and "learn more about the true teachings of Islam in regards to violence, suicide and terrorism." It's sponsored by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Chicago and United Power for Action and Justice, a citizens' organization created by nine religious denominations and three public-employee unions. It's from 1:30 to 3 (doors open at 1) in Navy Pier's Festival Hall, 600 E. Grand; call 312-464-1803 for more information.

19 MONDAY The more than 25 stuffed cats on display at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum's Cats! Wild to Mild exhibit died of natural causes "and were not specifically collected for the exhibit." Other items on display include a giant model of a cat tongue that visitors can touch and Catwoman's mask from Batman Returns. The ongoing exhibit also features educational messages about responsible cat care and predicts that most of the 36 species of wild cats that currently exist will become extinct within the next 25 years. It runs through January 6 at the museum at 2430 N. Cannon, where "Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body" is also up until the same date. The museum is open today from 9 to 4:30; admission is $6, $4 for students and seniors, and $3 for kids under 12. For more, call 773-871-2668.

Last year members of Voices in the Wilderness--a group dedicated to ending economic sanctions against Iraq--went to live with several families in Basra who survive on the UN's "oil for food" program. They wanted to see firsthand the effects of ten years of deprivation and U.S. bombings, and were asked by their host families to convey their stories to the West because "they believe that if the American people knew of their struggle, they would not want it to continue." Greetings From Missile Street, the resulting 39-minute documentary, will be screened tonight at 5 in the video theater of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. It's free; call 312-747-4600.

20 TUESDAY Blues pianist and singer Aaron Moore came to Chicago from Mississippi in 1951 and played with the best of 'em--Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter--but only on weekends. He refused to tour because of his day job with the Department of Streets and Sanitation. After retiring from his post as deputy commissioner in 1988, Moore took up music full-time. His life and work are the focus of the latest presentation of the Chicago Public Library's "Speakin' of the Blues" oral history project, hosted by Living Blues magazine's Justin O'Brien and featuring a performance by Moore. It's today at 12:15 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State, and it's free (312-747-4850).

21 WEDNESDAY Caryl Churchill's 1982 play Top Girls is set in Thatcher-era England and throws five famous females from history together at a dinner party to examine the toll that success takes on women. Tonight the Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, which recently wrapped up a production of Harold Pinter's No Man's Land, opens its interpretation of the Churchill classic in previews. "Both plays are about power--how we handle it, what we do when it wanes, and how our relationship to power affects the way we meet the world," says James Bohnen, director of both productions. Previews are tonight at 7:30, Friday at 2:30 and 7:30, and Saturday at 4:30 and 8 (the play officially opens on Sunday) at Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $15; call 773-871-3000.

22 THURSDAY Today's 74th Annual Interfaith Community Thanksgiving Service will be held in memory of Werner Heymann, who was the executive director of the Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council for a quarter of a century before dying of a heart attack last year. "He oversaw the growth of the Interfaith Council from a small organization doing the Thanksgiving service through the inception of our food pantry and open kitchen," says his longtime friend Barbara Krell. The free service includes an invocation by Rabbi Elliot Gertel of Congregation Rodfei Zedek and performances by the Chicago Children's Choir, saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, and organist Thomas Weisflog. It starts at 11 AM at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn; call 773-752-1911.

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