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Underground Film Rewind: The 2000 NYUFF

Film festival logo featuring a screaming monkey on a green sunburst background

I’m working on another big, site-wide project that I haven’t come up with a snappy name for yet, but it’s another type of project I can work on in mini-chunks that will eventually add up to a major positive development for the site. (Knock on wood.)

The project involves making the Underground Film Journal’s archives more accessible and search friendly, as well as better spotlighting more filmmakers. This doesn’t involve creating new pages. Instead it’s making the filmmaker index pages more useful with more detailed information.

For any filmmaker that’s covered in-depth on the Underground Film Journal, I create a “tag page” for them, which is a handy index linking to every article that mentions that filmmaker’s name, including film reviews, embedded videos, film festival lineups and more. An example of this would be for James Fotopoulos, which if you click his name there you’ll see what I’m talking about.

I’m calling this type of page an enhanced index page that includes a brief bio, a partial filmography and, in the middle of the page, the list of all the posts in which Fotopoulos’ name appears. That middle part of the page is generated automatically — as long as I tag things properly anyway — but I have to write the bio and filmography separately.

I’m also linking films in the filmography to reviews that I’ve written, i.e. if I’ve written any, which provides an alternate access to the Underground Film Journal review archives. For Fotopoulos, the first review I wrote of his work was his second feature film Migrating Forms that screened at the 2000 New York Underground Film Festival.

So, for this project I’m working backwards chronologically, that’s why I’m working on the 2000 NYUFF reviews. If you’re interested in scrolling through them, you can start with my first “preview” post and keep going. They’re a little embarrassing to read for myself as I was totally writing in a goofy punk attitude. Plus, there are one or two anecdotes I probably shouldn’t have posted for the world to read. Well, it seemed to fit the time period, I guess.

But, what I do like seeing going through those old reviews is the names of filmmakers I would eventually become very familiar to me and hopefully to the Underground Film Journal’s readers, but were absolutely new to me at the time. One of them was Fotopoulos. Others were Nick Zedd (Ecstasy in Entropy), Carey Burtt (The Death of Sex), Martha Colburn (Spiders in Love), Animal Charm (Target), Bill Plympton (Surprise Cinema) and Jeff Krulik (Obsessed With Jews).

One thing to keep in mind if you do read those old posts, those were in the days before WiFi and Internet cell phones and mobile blogging. Heck, it was before blogs were all that big. So, although those look like live blog posts, I actually wrote them into a paper notebook, then typed my notes up on the computer when I got home every night. That’s old school, baby!

Well, actually I didn’t write them every night I got home. Between working all day and going to the fest all night, I was completely exhausted after about three days — and the festival would go on for seven. I think the last couple of reviews went up a week or two after the festival was over.

It was a brutal schedule, but that was the fun of it, to see if I could actually do it. My main impetus was just to attend as many screenings as possible. The idea to write all those reviews came second. But, I’m glad I did so I have a good record of the event and not just have to rely on my bad memory. It would take me six years to eventually realize to devote the entire website to underground film, but this was the basis for that.

After 2000, I would attend two more NYUFFs and one Chicago Underground Film Festival. I might do another rewind article like this one about those events. But, even if I don’t, I’m going to keep on with the filmmaker index page project, amongst the other projects I’m trying to manage.


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