Cinema/Chicago News

Celebrating the Work of Ken Nordine, Voice of the Chicago International Film Festival

Ken Nordine passes away at the age of 98. Photo by Victor Skrebneski.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Ken Nordine, a dear friend and the voice of the Chicago International Film Festival. One of the most distinctive voices in the aural landscape, Ken lent his extraordinary talent and unsurpassed creativity through his visually and sonically stimulating Festival trailers for five decades. We awarded Ken with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, recognizing his immeasurable contributions to the Chicago creative community. We will miss his generous spirit, good humor and undeniable originality.

Among his many achievements, Nordine created Word Jazz, his long running radio show on WBEZ. As described by WBEZ,

Word Jazz is a mix of spoken word, poetry and sound design. In a 2000 interview with Nordine, WBEZ’s Steve Edwards described the show as a “delicious buffet of sound portraits, mind-altering moodscapes and irregular riffs.”

In that 2000 interview, Nordine told Edwards the idea for the show started when he would read memorized poetry live twice a week at a club on Chicago’s North Side. Musicians played jazz behind him.

We celebrate Ken Nordine’s legacy with some of our favorite trailers he created for the Chicago International Film Festival, going all the way back to the earliest Festival editions in the 1960s.

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