Summer Soiree with Gwyneth Paltrow

The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) hosts its annual benefit “Summer Soirée with Gwyneth Paltrow” on Saturday, June 15, at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago.

The Summer Soirée will be co-hosted by Gene Siskel Film Center Advisory Board Members Melissa Sage Fadim and Eda Davidman. The Gene Siskel Film Center will present the Renaissance Award to Oscar Award-Winning Actress Gwyneth Paltrow. SAIC President Dr. Walter E. Massey will have the honor of presenting the award. The evening’s event will feature cocktails and dinner followed by a Q&A with Ms. Paltrow led by Amanda de Cadenet, host of The Conversation, which airs on Lifetime. The discussion will include Ms. Paltrow’s entire acting career including film clips.

I sat down with Mrs. Fadim and Mrs. Davidman to discuss their involvement with the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Ms. Fadim became involved with the Gene Siskel Film Center in 2001 right around the time the new center was erected on State Street. Ms. Fadim’s interest was piqued after attending a black tie for the SAIC. What drew Ms. Fadim in the most was that the films being shown at the film center were not commercial nor mass produced. Not only is Ms. Fadim a supporter of the film center, but she also created the SAIC Fashion department’s first endowed chair position while funding the Sage Studios in the Sullivan Center, next to the Fashion Resource Center.

After almost 25 years of service to the SAIC, Ms. Fadim was recently awarded the “Heart of Fashion Award” at the SAIC fashion show “The Walk.” Why did Ms. Fadim choose the arts? She explains, “I am not an artist myself, but I love creativity along with individuality – I always have.”

Former lawyer and hedge fund manager Ms. Davidman spends her days serving on charitable boards, competing in triathlons, and raising her children. Ms. Davidman joined the Advisory Board of the film center almost 10 years ago. After joining the board, Ms. Davidman made a vow: “I promised to stay on the board until I stopped having fun, and guess what, I am still here.” And fun she has had…

Her favorite memory is when Chicago-based director Bob Balaban was honored, along with actor Jeff Goldblum. Ms. Davidman explains what makes the film center board so much fun: “Working with movie stars is exciting because we get to see the other side of them. When the actors come to Chicago, they are real people  who are very honored to receive the achievement award.” She continues, “The audience takes something away from the frank, open discussion listening to the actors talk about themselves and answering questions. Including questions from the audience. The best question to date was asked by a board member’s five year-old son who asked Ms. Witherspoon whether or not she liked to eat Reese’s Pieces.” Ms. Davidman shares, “My involvement with the film center has been amazing. The board is full of wonderful people  working well together, everyone cares.” Down time also allows Ms. Davidman to serve on the boards of the Green City Market and the Primo Center for Women and Children in Chicago.

Tickets for the Summer Soirée with Gwyneth Paltrow start at $400. All proceeds benefit the excellent film programming and educational initiatives of the Gene Siskel Film Center.

To purchase tickets and for more information about the event, please contact:
Dionne Nicole Smith

Connie Dickey Photograph



About Cindy Burns

Currently writing for TCW's 'Woman About Town' column, Cindy Burns covers Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, and interviews women and men who are making a difference in the world. With an M.A. in American History from DePaul University, Ms. Burns is an author, freelance writer, avid reader and researcher. Ms. Burns has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She is also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. When Ms. Burns isn't running around Chicago covering current events, you can find her biking, on the tennis courts, or hiking in a mountainous region of her choice.