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2009 Chicago Underground Film Festival: Official Lineup

Chicago Underground Film Festival

The Chicago Underground Film Festival will launch its annual cinematic assault from the Gene Siskel Film Center when it celebrates its 16th annual edition on Sept. 10-17. So, after 16 years, how has the “elder statesman” of underground film festivals evolved?

In a recent interview, CUFF’s Artistic Director, Bryan Wendorf stated that “programming this year has more subtlety and nuance,” which is readily apparent when one peruses the full festival lineup below. As far as features go, they run the gamut from longtime CUFF participant Todd Verow‘s latest film, The Boy With the Sun in His Eyes, to experimental documentaries like Lucy Raven’s China Town to the recently restored 1968 psychedelic flick Gold to the political documentary American Radical. That runs a pretty wide gamut of cinema.

But the film I am most personally excited about and would kill to fly out to the Windy City to finally see is It Came From Kuchar, Jennifer M. Kroot‘s documentary about legendary underground filmmakers, George and Mike Kuchar. The film will be making its Midwest premiere with Kroot in attendance. I’m such a huge fan of particularly Mike’s sci-fi classic Sins of the Fleshapoids that this doc just sounds like it’d be fascinating and a ton of fun.

As for special Underground Film Journal shout-outs, I only have a few short film recommendations. First, Chicago transgressive filmmaker Usama Alshaibi gets artistic with his equally arty and spooky My Third Painting. Then, there are two films from Mike Plante’s fantastic Lunchfilm series screening separately. I highly recommend both Ben Russell‘s masked ethnographic film Trypps #6 (Malobi) and Martha Colburn‘s swirling animated swoosh through history Myth Labs.

Here’s the full lineup:

Sept. 10
8:00 p.m.: It Came From Kuchar, dir. Jennifer M. Kroot. A documentary on the life of twin pioneering underground filmmakers, George and Mike Kuchar, who directed such classics as Hold Me When I’m Naked and Sins of the Fleshapoids. (Watch online)

Sept. 11
6:00 p.m.: “An Open Relationship with Vannevar Bush”
A New Ecology For The Citizen of the Digital Age, dir. Nick Briz
Model Homes, dir. Nick O’Brien
Somewhere Only We Know, dir. Jesse Mclean
The Return Of The Black Tower, dir. Jennet Thomas
es/ Synch Up Elements (Version Five), dir. Stom Sogo
Mistake of a Hedge Monster, dir. Harvey Benschoter
MEHOH (VR1a), dir. Jon Satrom
Untitled (2 Axes), dir. Timothy McConville
What-If?, dir. Torsten Zenas Burns & Darren Martin

6:15 p.m.: The Boy With the Sun in His Eyes, dir. Todd Verow. A gay man distraught by the death of his lover travels to Europe with a former B-movie scream queen while she shoots a pilot for a new travel show.

8:00 p.m.: Impolex, dir. Alex Ross Perry. A WWII GI goes on a lonely mission to find undetonated German V-2 rockets. (Read the underground movie review)

8:00 p.m.: “Breaking the Bank”
Paying Tax Is Sexy, dir. Eva Linder
Payroll: From the Passive Aggressive Series, dir. Noah Klersfeld
A Necessary Music, dir. Beatrice Gibson and Alex Waterman
Dropping Furniture, dir. Harald Hund & Paul Horn
Resonance, dir. Karel De Cock

Sept. 12
3:00 p.m.: “This Must Be the Place”
Trypps #6 (Malobi), dir. Ben Russell (Read the review)
Developer, dir. Karthik Pandian
Arcadia, Downtown, dir. Yaron Lapid
Wound Footage, dir. Thorsten Fleisch
American Dreams # 4, dir. Moira Tierney
Transmissions, dir. Grey Gerstein
Dick Cheney in a Cold Dark Cell, dir. Jim Finn
Dogs of Straw, dir. Yin-Ju Chen & James T. Hong

5:00 p.m.: The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, dir. Julian Nitzberg. A portrait of the infamous family that lives in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.

5:00 p.m.: “The Watchful Eye”
Freude (Delight), dir. Thomas Draschen
The Citizens, dir. Kevin Jerome Everson
The Image World, dir. Adele Horne
San Quentin, CA 94964, dir. Katherin McInnis
Boy/Analysis: An Abridgement of Melanie Klein’s “Narrative of a Child Analysis”, dir. Steve Reinke
Behind the Walls and Under the Stairs, dir. Christina Battle
The Book of Salt: Chapter 1: Mary’s Garden, dir. Andrew Busti
Groundplay, dir. Robert Todd
1-9, dir. Mary Billyou
The Body Parlor, dir. Frédéric Moffet, Katrina Chamberlin and James Kubie

7:00 p.m.: Cellar, dir. Steve Staso. Three separate stories about residents of NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, including a Lebanese immigrant chef, a Colombian manicurist and a lesbian African-American veteran of the Iraq war.

7:15 p.m.: Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, dir. Jessica Oreck. An examination into Japan’s obsession with insects. (Read the review)
Screening with The Sound of Crickets, dir. Justin Chouinard.

9:00 p.m.: Gold, dir. Bob Levis. A 35mm, digitally-restored print of the trippy 1968 film set in a really wild Old West mining town.

9:15 p.m.: “Magic Hands”
Peeks, dir. Jo Dery
Twilight Spirit, dir. Jodie Mack
Launderman, dir. Scott Cummings
Elfmädchen, dir. Mirka Morales
All Ghost Women Play the Theremin, dir. Jerzy Rose
Peaches, dir. Anders Nelson
Faust, dir. Steve Emmons

Sept. 13
3:00 p.m.: “The Entire Cycle”
Simultaneous Contrast, dir. Chris Kennedy
Honorable Mention, dir. Kevin Jerome Everson
The Shutdown, dir. Adam Stafford
Earl, dir. Nick Harvey
We Began By Measuring Distance, dir. Basma Al-Sharif
Kalendar (from The Ukranian Time Machine Project), dir. Naomi Uman
Me Broni Ba (My White Baby), dir. Akosua Adoma Owusa

3:15 p.m.: China Town, dir. Lucy Raven. This experimental documentary using still photos and ambient sound traces the evolution of copper from a mine in Nevada to a smelter in China.
Screening with Between the Sheets, dir. Warren Cockerham; and 12 Explosions, dir. Johann Lurf.

5:00 p.m.: American Radical, dir. David Ridgen and Nicolas Rossier. A documentary about the controversial author and academic Norman Finkelstein.

5:15 p.m.: “Coconuts and Cocaine”
Untitled RPG, dir. JD Walsh
Jaws, dir. Sabine Gruffat
My Third Painting, dir. Usama Alshaibi (Watch online)
Papal Broken Dance, dir. Marie Losier
Myth Labs, dir. Martha Colburn (Read the review)
Constant Craving, dir. Shana Moulton
Blondes in the Jungle, dir. Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn (Read the review)

7:00 p.m.: The Time Machine, dir. Bill Brown and Sabine Gruffat. Live performance piece.
Screening with In the Jungle, dir. Stephanie Barber. Live performance piece.

Sept. 14
6:00 p.m.: Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, dir. Jessica Oreck. An examination into Japan’s obsession with insects. (Read the review)
Screening with The Sound of Crickets, dir. Justin Chouinard

8:00 p.m.: “Magic Hands”
Peeks, dir. Jo Dery
Twilight Spirit, dir. Jodie Mack
Launderman, dir. Scott Cummings
Elfmädchen, dir. Mirka Morales
All Ghost Women Play the Theremin, dir. Jerzy Rose
Peaches, dir. Anders Nelson
Faust, dir. Steve Emmons

Sept. 15
6:00 p.m.: “Coconuts and Cocaine”
Untitled RPG, dir. JD Walsh
Jaws, dir. Sabine Gruffat
My Third Painting, dir. Usama Alshaibi (Watch online)
Papal Broken Dance, dir. Marie Losier
Myth Labs, dir. Martha Colburn (Read the review)
Constant Craving, dir. Shana Moulton
Blondes in the Jungle, dir. Lev Kalman & Whitney Horn (Read the review)

8:00 p.m.: Gold, dir. Bob Levis. A 35mm, digitally-restored print of the trippy 1968 film set in a really wild Old West mining town.

Sept. 16
8:00 p.m.: American Radical, dir. David Ridgen and Nicolas Rossier. A documentary about the controversial author and academic Norman Finkelstein.

Sept. 17
6:00 p.m.: The Boy With the Sun in His Eyes, dir. Todd Verow. A gay man distraught by the death of his lover travels to Europe with a former B-movie scream queen while she shoots a pilot for a new travel show.

8:00 p.m.: “The Watchful Eye”
Freude (Delight), dir. Thomas Draschen
The Citizens, dir. Kevin Jerome Everson
The Image World, dir. Adele Horne
San Quentin, CA 94964, dir. Katherin McInnis
Boy/Analysis: An Abridgement of Melanie Klein’s “Narrative of a Child Analysis”, dir. Steve Reinke
Behind the Walls and Under the Stairs, dir. Christina Battle
The Book of Salt: Chapter 1: Mary’s Garden, dir. Andrew Busti
Groundplay, dir. Robert Todd
1-9, dir. Mary Billyou
The Body Parlor, dir. Frédéric Moffet, Katrina Chamberlin and James Kubie

For more info, please visit the official CUFF website.


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