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2011 Calls For Entry: Chicago Underground, 100 Dollar Film Festivals

Two very different underground film festivals of size, scope and types of films screened are currently open for submission. Plus, one has a final deadline that’s very close — which I’m listing second — and one that has a final deadline a few months away — which I’m listing first.

I’m listing the one with the longer deadline first because it’s the granddaddy of all currently running underground film festivals: The 18th annual Chicago Underground Film Festival will be running in the Windy City next June. (Exact dates TBA.)

The fest will be returning to its new — seemingly permanent at this point — home at the Gene Siskel Film Center. The early deadline is really just a few weeks away, but the final deadline is next year. The dates are:

Early Deadline
Dec. 1
Feature: $40
Short: $30

Regular Deadline:
Feb. 1
Feature: $50
Short: $40

Late Deadline:
March 15
Feature: $55
Short: $45

As for what kinds of films CUFF is looking, that’s always been hard to pin down — in a great, diverse, always surprising kind of way. I couldn’t tell you what the through-line is on CUFF year to year and that’s really saying something for an institution that’s been around for so long and headed up by the same dude, Bryan Wendorff.

One way to try to get a feel for the fest is to look over last year’s lineup, which included lots of political documentaries and experimental narrative features. Plus, there’s always CUFF’s great description of what they’re looking for:

The Chicago Underground Film Festival exists to showcase the defiantly independent filmmaker. Our mission is to promote films and videos that dissent radically in form, technique, or content from the “indie” mainstream and to present adventurous works that challenge and transcend commercial and audience expectations…if you suspect your film is “underground,” it probably is.

CUFF does prefer to receive entries via Withoutabox, but you might also want to check out their official submission guidelines.

In a different vein, the $100 Film Festival in Calgary, Canada is a shorts-only fest that will run for three days on March 3-5, 2011. Coincidentally, this is also the $100 Film Festival’s 18th year.

But, don’t let the fest’s name fool you! It did away with the $100 budgetary rule for submissions awhile ago. But they are looking for super low budget short films under 22 minutes long, preferably of an experimental nature. And there’s one very serious, unbreakable rule about submissions:

The final screening version of your film has to be on film, either Super 8 or 16mm!

Your submission entry can be on video, but your film has to be projected on film for the actual festival. (Also, it needs to have been produced after 2008.)

Another unique thing about the $100 Film Festival is that they don’t charge an entry fee. Ok, that isn’t so unique. But, in addition to no fees, the festival also pays screening honorariums to accepted filmmakers. Plus, cash prizes and awards designed by local artists are given out.

The final deadline for this fest is coming up fast:

Final Deadline
Dec. 1
No entry fees

The fest doesn’t really quite say what types of films it’s looking for. I think they’re pretty wide open. However, looking through last year’s catalog that they have archived on their website, I see lots of familiar names to the Underground Film Journal: Jaimz Asmundson, Clint Enns, Kerry Laitala, Ben Popp and Leslie Supnet. On the other hand, though, last year the fest screened a ton of films by filmmakers I’m not familiar with. So, I think they’re just looking for creative, short, on-film films.

For more info and for an entry form, please visit the official $100 Film Festival website.


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