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Eleva Singleton, left, featured Bill Williams in her documentary, "Shinemen." 1

Bill Williams shines in short documentary

February 1st, 2017

A short documentary about the shoe-shine business in Chicago airs Feb. 3 and 5 on WTTW-Channel 11.

“Shinemen” features Bill Williams, owner of two Chicago shoe-shine shops. For years he juggled his business while also working in the tourism industry. Mayor Rahm Emanuel pops up in the film to honor Williams at his retirement from other city leaders upon his retirement from Choose Chicago, where he was vice president of diversity and sales.

Williams is a self-described people-lover and a character, making the film fun to watch. But it’s the thoughtful comments from historians that enrich the film.

On shoe-shining, George Bailey, an associate professor at Columbia College says: “It’s in the jazz of it. It’s in the soul of it. Two people conversing. The back and forth of it.”

The film is the brainchild of Eleva Singleton, an up-and-coming filmmaker who worked for a time in Los Angeles as an actress before returning to Chicago to help care for her mother. She’s the film’s producer, director and writer.

Singleton is passionate about film-making, and like Williams, she’s for years juggled another career, working in high-end retail on Rush Street.

“Shinemen” has screened at the Black Harvest Film Festival.

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One Response to Bill Williams shines in short documentary

  1. Linda Peters says:

    Great to see Chicago treasures like Bill Williams get the ‘shine’ they deserve! And to see up-and-coming directors like Eleva Singleton give this subject the respect and dignity it deserves.

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