The Western: How It Was Never One

August 31 - December 11

Lecturer: Jon Cates

Jon Cates is an Associate Professor of Film, Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

While the Western genre is quintessentially American, filmmakers across the world inspire, interpret and respond to this form of storytelling. Set in symbolic landscapes with iconic characters drawn from both imagined pasts and lived histories, this series focuses on how the Western cinematic genre explicitly expresses politics and ideologies. From First Nations perspectives to African diasporic feminist narrative, these films present critical readings of an ever-elusive frontier which has and continues to define national identities. Many different Westerns co-exist, and, taken together, these films question the borders and boundaries of mythic American experiences.

— Jon Cates

For nearly forty years, the Gene Siskel Film Center has collaborated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism to provide a unique experience for Chicago filmgoers. Each fall and spring, we present a themed Screening/Lecture series that is both a course taken for credit by enrolled SAIC students, and a weekly series of public screenings open to all ticket-buyers without need of enrollment or registration. A lecturer is chosen for each series from among the leading film scholars and critics in our region.

On each Tuesday during the series, that week's film is briefly introduced by the lecturer and then screened in its entirety. Following the screening, members of the public are welcome to stay for the lecture and participate in the discussion. The films usually have an additional screening, without the lecture and discussion, on Friday or Saturday. Click here to learn more about this program.

Admission to all Lecture/Screening programs is $5 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members.


Tuesday lectures by Jon Cates!

The Man With The Iron Fists

2012, RZA, USA/Hong Kong, 95 min. With RZA, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu.


  • Fri, Oct 26th 4:00pm
  • Tue, Oct 30th 6:00pm

Tuesday lectures by Jon Cates!

3:10 To Yuma

1957, Delmer Daves, USA, 92 min. With Van Heflin, Glenn Ford


  • Sat, Nov 3rd 4:45pm
  • Tue, Nov 6th 6:00pm