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article imageChicago Underground Film Festival Will Unspool 18 New Features

By Digital Journal Staff     Aug 14, 2000 in Lifestyle
Chicago - The Chicago Underground Film Festival will unspool 18 features, 12 documentaries and more than 150 shorts over seven days at the historic Fine Arts Theatre (418 S. Michigan Ave.) at its seventh annual event. In addition to its celluloid slate, CUFF 2000 will feature an appearance by legendary director, Alejandro Jodorowsky, who will receive the festival's annual Lifetime Achievement Award.
In the wake of deadly indiewood fallout, CUFF strives to represent the underground's vitality, programming films from the avant-garde of experimentalism to the edge of transgressive media making. "This is the largest and most diverse line-up we've ever presented, featuring films ranging from fine art experimentalism to over-the-top cult films and everything in between. The growth of underground festivals like CUFF has created a vibrant, artistically and culturally important community that is keeping the true independent spirit alive even as the 'indiewood' mainstream becomes more and more indistinguishable from Hollywood product." say CUFF co-directors Bryan Wendorf and Jay Bliznick.
As part of this spirit, CUFF 2000 will honor the godfather of the midnight movie, Alejandro Jodorowsky, with its lifetime achievement award. The now-legendary Chilean director first captured the attentions of New York's late night set with his mystical surrealist parable, EL TOPO Unfortunately, due to the graphic and often blasphemous nature of his work, most of Jodorowsky's films have seen limited release, at times drastically edited by the producers or distributors. CUFF will present uncensored versions of three of the director's most notorious and rarely screened films, EL TOPO, HOLY MOUNTAIN, and SANTA SANGRE, none of which are available on video.
The largest underground film festival in the U.S., CUFF is an invaluable stop on the underground tour. Not only does the festival continually showcases significant and subversive work from around the globe, it has also become the ideological and financial spawning ground for some of the scene's best and most important works. For the second year in a row, CUFF will feature works partially funded by its annual Film Fund, including its opening and closing night films, STRAIGHTMAN by Chicago director Ben Berkowitz, and SUPERSTARLET A.D. underground maverick John Michael McCarthy. Additionally, filmmakers like McCarthy and Peter Hall (DELINQUENT) cite the festival as a creative ground zero for collaborations and future projects. Peter Hall has stated "At CUFF I have communed with filmmakers I merely encountered at other festivals."
OPENING AND CLOSING NIGHT
CUFF 2000 kicks off with the Midwest premiere of the Chicago-made STRAIGHTMAN. The first feature film to be completed with a grant from the Chicago Underground Film Fund, the film is an unfussy, refreshingly direct exploration of the friendship between two men when one of them comes out of the closet.
Afterwards, award-winning audio experimentalist, DJ, and gender-bender Terry Thaemlitz will spin in the Fine Arts Ballroom at the fest's annual opening night party.
The World premiere of John Michael McCarthy's SUPERSTARLET A.D. closes the festival. Another CUFF fund recipient, SSA.D. is a wild romp through the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the next millennium, packed with all the sex and violence of a classic exploitation film. "If McCarthy weren't so marginalized, many filmmakers could be modeling their work on his layered lyricism instead of Tarantino's canned vacousness." Said Lisa Allspector of the Chicago Reader after seeing McCarthy's THE SORE LOSERS at CUFF in 1997.
Following the film is CUFF's closing night party and awards ceremony at the Empty Bottle, featuring performances by Competitorr (helmed by filmmakers Stephanie Barber and Sarah Price) and the Demolition Doll Rods.
CUFF 2000 FEATURE SLATE
  • The World premiere of IN THE DARK-Chicago filmmaker Clifton Holmes' frightening DV feature is a cat and mouse game between a bored librarian and a mysterious game master.
  • The World premiere of F**KED IN THE FACE-CUFF 99's Best of Chicago winner Shawn Durr's first feature tracks one man's obsession with a serial killer and the overly sensitive, acutely insecure, compulsive clean-freak he ends up with instead.
  • The Midwest premiere of EXISTO-Coke Sam' musical romp through an America where justice has been trampled under the wing-tips of the extreme right and moral questions have been reduced to bumper stickers.
  • The Midwest premiere of METAL-a stripped-down, straightforward "hood" film and tribute to African-American working poor from Christopher E. Brown.
  • The Midwest premiere of LOST IN THE PERSHING POINT HOTEL-Julia Pierrepont II's screen adaptation of Leslie Jordan's award-winning play. A quirky, funny look at the lives of three mismatched runaways who lose themselves through the crumbling hallways of Atlanta's Pershing Point Hotel.
  • The Midwest premiere of ROCK OPERA-Bob Ray's genuinely warped, drug-addled, and scathingly hilarious parody of the day-to-day existence of Austin's double-crossing, back-stabbing music world.
  • The Midwest premiere of MIGRATING FORMS-Chicago director James Fotopoulis' unnerving and tawdry tale of sexual obsession, disease, and carnal power.
  • The Midwest premiere of WIRED ANGEL-Sam Wells' provocative and unusual look at the life of Joan of Arc distills the saint's story into silvery nocturnal landscape shot through with post-industrial waste and medieval iconography.
  • The Midwest premiere of JUNK-Roddy Bogawa's Godardian future vision pits a routine-obsessed trash collector against a chaos-loving wanderer in a doomed love affair.
  • The Midwest premiere of SYSTEM NOISE -Josh Ferrazzano's feedback-saturated slow dive into insanity.
  • The Midwest premiere of ZONA - Pierre Desir's vision of the near future delves into the elusiveness of memory and perception by way of hallucination, dreams, and desire.
  • The Midwest premiere of ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN - underground superstar Todd Verow's latest digital masterpiece features the charismatic Philly in the role of her life.
  • The Midwest premiere of WAITING - Patrick Hasson's comedy about the seamy underbelly of the restaurant industry as told through the eyes of Sean McNutt, a waiter trying to muster the ambition to move on in life.
  • The Midwest premiere of SLIDIN' BRIGHT AND SHINY WORLD-weaving its way through the warehouse parties, underground clubs and shopping malls of Vienna, filmmakers Reinhard Sud, Barbara Albert and Michael Brim trace a group of acquaintances recklessly sliding from ennui to ecstasy.
  • The Chicago premiere of GODASS-Set during the era of Reaganomics and punk rock, Esther Bell's dark, coming-of-age-comedy suggests that having a gay father can be the least of a girl's problems.
CUFF 2000 FEATURE DOCUMENTARY LINE-UP
  • The World premiere of 30 FRAMES A SECOND: THE WTO IN SEATTLE-Former freelance network news cameraman Rustin Thompson walks into the fray of tear gas, pepper spray, and police brutality to capture the confusion, anger, and courageousness of the WTO protests in Seattle.
  • The Midwest premiere of LIVE! NUDE! GIRLS! UNITE!-- Julia Query's raucous first-person account of her efforts to organize the only union of strippers in the United States while at the same time coming-out as a sex worker to her activist mother, Dr. Joyce Wallace.
  • The Midwest premiere of SONGS FOR CASSEVETES-Justin Mitchell's 4-years-in -the making look at the do-it-yourself world of underground music from the perspective of those who make it happen-including Sleater Kinney, the Make-Up, Unwound, Henry's Dress, Further, Tylly Craft, Dub Narcotic Sound System, and the Hi-Fives.
  • The Midwest premiere of BORN TO LOSE - the life and death of rock 'n' roll great, Johnny Thunders by Lech Kowalski.
  • The Midwest premiere of WESTWAY TO THE WORLD-Don Lett's long-anticipated, 30-years-in-making documentary about the last great British rock-n-roll band, The Clash.
  • The Midwest premiere of BENJAMIN SMOKE-equally a mediation on the traditions of punk and folk and the grace of one individual in the face of artistic and cultural hardship, Jem Cohen's extraordinary documentary traces the last days of pioneering musician, Benjamin.
  • The Midwest premiere of THE SEEDLING-a timeless documentation of traditional longboard riding and a glimpse into a log riding tribe of young Californians from Thomas Campbell.
  • The Midwest premiere of SEARCHING FOR ROGER TAYLOR-director Aaron Barnett's search for the elusive singer and a documentation of punk's evolution into New Wave, New Romanticism and beyond
  • The Midwest premiere of FREESTYLE-Shot on the streets and back-alley open mikes of New York, Kevin Fitzgerald's rhythmic montage is a startlingly new look at the history of underground hip-hop.
  • The Midwest premiere of RUINS- Jesse Lerner's experimental documentary which looks at the cultural colonialism of Mexico and Central America and the recontextualization of Mayan and Aztec archeological finds as art.
  • The Midwest premiere of SHADOW BOXERS-Kataya Banowsky's powerful and inspiring film follows the exhilarating rise of Dutch boxing sensation Lucia Rijker as she pursues the world championship.
  • WE ARE TRAFFIC-Ted White's chronicle of the history and development of the Critical Mass bicycle movement from its beginnings in San Francisco 1992 to its spread to over 100 cities in 14 countries across the globe.
SPECIAL NOTICE:
  • PLANET KRULIK 2000: A potpourri of bizarre delights curated by the director of the legendary HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT, Jeff Krulick.
  • JEFF KRULICK PRESENTS A TRIBUTE TO THE SCOTT AND GARY SHOW: A retrospective of one of the most bizarre and innovative public access shows in the U.S.
  • DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA SHORTS PROGRAM: Early underground work by some of the Guild's best known members, including John Waters' THE DIANE LINKLETTER STORY and Martin Scorsese's THE BIG SHAVE.
  • SCRATCHING THE SURFACE: FILMS FROM THE AVANT-GARDE: A program of experimental films which look at, beyond, and beneath the surface of things curated by Chicago Filmmakers Program Director Patrick Friel.
  • SKATE AND CREATE: Three films on the world of skateboarding, from parking lot hand-plants to swimming pool rides, and corporate sponsorship.
  • SIX EASY PIECES: Experimental filmmaker Jon Jost's lyrical commentary on aesthetic history and its impact on today's world.
  • LARGE TURN-OUT BY CHICAGO MAKERS Including: Heather McAdams, Jim Sikora, Mark Hejner , Shawn Durr, Martin Sorrendeguy, James Fotopoulos Ken Eisenstein, Christopher Bravo, Jeff Economy, Darren Hacker, Ray Harmon, Mike Finch, Clifton Holmes, John Tagamoilila, Pin Pin Tan, Benjamin Meyers, Usama Alashaibi, Janice Inskeep, Jamie Schenck, Frank Zirbel, Joaquin de la Puente, John Tagamoilila, and more!
  • CUFF 2000 ROCKS: Music and film collide in Jim Sikora's punk reminiscence MY CHAR BROILED BURGER WITH BREWER, Jeff Economy and Darren Hacker's ode to tribute bands, …AN INCREDIBLE SIMULATION; Martin Sorrendeguy's look at the Latino punk scene, BEYOND THE SCREAMS, and more with titles like: NAYSAYER, ED'S JUKE JOINT, LOOK BACK, DON'T LOOK BACK, ROCK OPERA SONGS FOR CASSEVETES, THE FLAMING LIPS HAVE LANDED, EL REY DE ROCK N ROLL, BORN TO LOSE: THE LAST GREAT ROCK N ROLL MOVIE, WESTWAY TO THE WORLD, BENJAMIN SMOKE, SEARCHING FOR ROGER TAYLOR.
  • Pre-eminent experimentalist Jay Rosenblatt's (HUMAN REMAINS) meditation on Judaism, Christianity, and anti-Semitism, KING OF THE JEWS.
  • Nick Zedd's CUFF Fund recipient, ECSTASY IN ENTROPY.
  • Underground animator Jim Trainor's (THE FETISHIST) prehistoric meditation THE MOSCHOPS.
  • London's Exploding Cinema makers Paul Terrago and Janet Thomas' films WHY THE CANARY SINGS NO MORE, SHARONY, and 4 WAYS HE TRIED TO TELL YOU.
  • The Institute for True Purpose Technology's A COLD HEARTED LOOK AT YOUR LAST 60,000,000-a 'film-strip' revealing the secret cosmology of the Church of Scientology usually restricted to upper-level initiates.
PANELS:
  • ALTERNATIVE MUSIC / ALTERNATIVE FILM: A discussion on the long standing relationship between independent film and independent music.
  • EXILE UNDER GUYVILLE: WOMEN IN THE UNDERGROUND: For all of its "cutting edge" and "progressive" stances are women still given short shrift in the underground?
  • DIGITAL FILMMAKING: THE NEW UNDERGROUND. Is the digital revolution a blessing or a curse?
  • DOES SIZE MATTER? THE SHORT FILM: Are shorts just calling cards designed to get funding for features? Or are they a vital art form in their own right?
  • DOT.COM OR DIE: What can streaming video sites really do for independent filmmakers?
Tickets are $7.00 per program and are available at the Festival Box Office the day of show only. The Box Office opens at 12:30 p.m. daily and is located at the Fine Arts Theater, 418 South Michigan Ave.
A five-admission punch-pass is available for $30 (save$5.00) and 10 admission passes are $55 (save $15). There is no complete festival pass this year.
CUFF information is available on the official website or by calling the Festival Hotline: 773-866-8660.
Many films are available for review both prior and during the festival. Press kits and photos are available on request. For more information please contact Jay Bliznick at 773-862-4182 or Amy Beste at 773-784-7493 or amy@cuff.org.
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