Micheal Glover Smith wasn’t unused to film festivals and awards when he submitted his third film, Rendezvous in Chicago, to the 2018 Shenandoah Film Festival. His first movie, Cool Apocalypse (2015) traveled several film festivals across the US, and the second film Mercury in Retrograde won top prizes in the 2018 Tallahassee Film Festival and 2017 Full Bloom Festival in North Carolina, his birth state. Moving to Chicago in 1993, it’s clear he’s grown into his new home there, spending a whole segment in Rendezvous dedicated to functional love, and sets that functioning relationship outside, alongside long dedications to their city.
Like much of his work, Rendezvous in Chicago is about relationships. Three of them, in this case, but according to Smith, depict an arc of a full single relationship—from dubious beginning to idyllic calm, and riotous ending and rebounding.
It’s also about voyeurism.
What was that comment from around the time of La La Land? That there’s nothing filmmakers like more than films about film? It’s not exactly untrue. Much like how Hitchock’s Rear Window is also about the camera, and being exposed in the open, Smith’s films all are a little bit about the lense they’re shot through.
”I think voyeurism is an interesting subject in film because sight is the primary sense we use to experience movies,” says Smith. “Any time you make a film about someone “spying” it automatically becomes a multi-layered experience because the character is a surrogate for the viewer.”
“Any time you make a film about someone “spying” it automatically becomes a multi-layered experience because the character is a surrogate for the viewer.”
From creepy men in bars watching a woman trying to just do her thesis work (and eventually being stripped naked in Strip Literary Trivia to become ogled himself) to cats watching the world go by from high-up windows where they themselves are nearly invisible, Rendezvous lets us watch people watching people, until at the very end, we are the ones watched ourselves.
Smith says don’t think too deep about it, he just thought it would be funny if a character fell in love with the viewer. That is a lot of what he hopes for in his films, at least for Rendezvous—to make people laugh first, but also to think more about their own lives and relationships. The ones in the film are just the mirrors to hold up to the viewer’s own lives. For many of the questions I had about Rendezvous, that was his answer; he thought it would be funny, and he wanted to make people laugh.
The film was produced by a female filmmaking collective, Women of the Now, and the crew was mostly female. He plans to continue to live and make independent films in Chicago for the foreseeable future.